Summer and blockbuster, superhero movies go hand in hand like PB and J. Though outside the sun shines, the birds sing and the water beckons, Marvel works it’s magic and somehow manages to coax viewers into a Friday matinee showing of its latest flick, “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” Even though the superhero craze is getting a little tired out, especially given that the majority of said films follow an identical plotline, the concept of supernatural forces saving the world clearly still continues to fascinate.
In this respect, the sequel to the 2015 flick, “Ant-Man” is no different. Director Peyton Reed follows the superhero-film-framework, presenting viewers with impressive CGI, magically stretchy, yet durable costumes, ridiculously overblown car-chases and inevitable destruction to a city setting. However, though holding onto the witty banter and reasonably likeable characters from its origin film, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” doesn’t really introduce us to anything we didn’t already see in theaters three years prior.
Set on the winding San Francisco streets (ideal for the car drifting sequences to come later in the film) “Ant-Man and the Wasp” plops audiences back down right where “Ant-Man” left us. Under house arrest for the past two years, Scott Lang/Ant-Man has been trying to stay busy and keep out of trouble by entertaining his ten-year-old daughter Cassie through amateur magic tricks and involved games of make-believe. Meanwhile, the brilliant father-daughter duo Hope/Wasp (Evangeline Lilly “The Hurt Locker”) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas “Wonder Boys”) have constructed a scientifically savvy vehicle to retrieve their long-lost, previously presumed-dead mother/wife from the quantum realm. Despite their personal, slightly petty grievances (fully explained in “Captain America: Civil War”), Hope and Hank solicit the help of Scott, who hesitantly accepts, putting his parole and future with Cassie in jeopardy.
After the introduction of the plot, the film plugs into the anticipated Marvel roadmap (i.e. back and forth fight sequences between heroes and villains, size-changing stunts and mild sexual tension between Rudd and Lilly’s characters). Roadmap aside, there are a few notable nuggets of flavor, one brought on by the buddy-buddy relationship between Scott and business partner and best-friend, Luis (Michael Peña “Crash”). Though by no means turning the film into a comedy, Peña’s hyper, puppy-dog-ish attitude and brotherly bond with Rudd adds a touch of humor without trying too hard. Additionally, props must be given to rising star Abby Ryder Fortson, who plays Scott’s imaginative, yet mature daughter. Fortson truly owns her role, building her character throughout the film and by extension strengthening Rudd’s by crafting such a believable and wholesome father-daughter connection with him.
Of course, the best part of the film is Paul Rudd. No matter what role he plays, Rudd is an actor who is nearly impossible not to like. Perhaps it is his perplexing ageless-ness or his ability to make humor organic and un-obnoxious. Whatever it is, Rudd is fitting for this role of superhero meets super-parent, which is part of what makes us willing to let the little flaws and overall generic-ness of “Ant-Man and the Wasp” slide. More than other major Marvel movies, there is a distinctive family-friendly vibe given off by the “Ant-Man” franchise. It is doubtful that “Ant Man and the Wasp” will leave you stunned by a profound message, wowed by insane special effects or intrigued by a unique super-hero/villain rivalry. But it will leave you with a smile on your face, which might just be enough.