Blu-ray Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp

By , Contributor
Love, not like. That's how I feel about Marvel Studios' Ant-Man franchise and Ant-Man and the Wasp (on Blu-ray, also 4K UltraHD, October 16) is even better than the big-hearted (and hilarious) original film. Director Peyton Reed returns with everything that worked in his first one (released 2015), plus a lot more action. And, if you somehow missed this in the film's ad campaign (not to mention its very title), Scott Reed (Paul Rudd) has a kickass partner this time in Hope van Dyne (Evangiline Lilly), aka Wasp. Hope was, of course, a big part of Ant-Man part one, but here she steps up with full-fledged, co-lead status.

Black Panther got 2018 off to a rousing bang for Marvel, eventually topping the first Avengers to become the biggest MCU hit to date. But it was an overly-serious, wildly overpraised origin story. Black Panther, for all of director Ryan Coogler's ambition, felt burdened by the weight of its self-imposed social significance. It wound up feeling like something too far removed from the pure escapism of the overall MCU. (Unfortunately, it's a sign of our times that merely expressing a tough-minded opinion of Panther and its storytelling shortcomings is enough to inspire absurd accusations of "racism." The irony is, Panther's ooga-booga tribal rituals are themselves a seemingly subconscious throwback to the days of the 1930s Tarzan series and other films of a bygone era that grossly stereotyped African "otherness.") 

Ant Man and the Wasp feat2.jpg At any rate, Avengers: Infinity War rocked the MCU right back on track with an epically bodacious adventure that boasted all the best elements of the series: kinetic action, genuinely effective humor, camaraderie among its heroes, and just enough thoughtfulness to give viewers something to chew on without tipping the proceedings into cornball silliness (looking at you, Venom, thankfully not a Marvel Studios production).

Ant-Man and the Wasp has all of that as well, plus a surprisingly effective emotion/character-based storyline involving the search for Hope's mother, Janet (Ms. White Gold herself, Michelle Pfeiffer, making a grand return to the comic book movie realm long after her legendary turn as Catwoman in Tim Burton's masterful Batman Returns).

Hope's dad Hank Pym (Michael Douglas, who seems to be having a blast in these movies) is back, too. Both Hank and Hope are highly optimistic that Scott's visit to (and successful return from) the quantum realm might be the key to rescuing Janet at long last. Meanwhile there's a mysterious new villain in the form of the quantum-shifting Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a young woman whose powers are a direct result of her intense (and possibly incurable) physical pain. John-Kamen makes Ghost a villain to be feared but also pitied.

Michael Peña, T.I. Harris, and David Dastmalchian are all back, too, as Scott's security business partners. Crossing over from the DC Expanded Universe is MCU-newcomer Laurence Fishbourne as Hank's associate Bill Foster. Sure, the movie is quite fluffy coming after Infinity War's mass-extinction weightiness and Black Panther social allegory. But all the ingredients combine for a truly fun, fast-paced experience nonetheless. Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly make for a fantastic team, both bringing humor and romantic chemistry to their roles.

Special features on Disney's Ant-Man and the Wasp Blu-ray edition: four behind-the-scenes "making of" featurettes, a gag reel and specific Stan Lee cameo outtakes and Tim Heidecker cameo outtakes. There are also a couple of deleted scenes. For whatever reason, it feels a bit light in terms of substantial bonus material.

Ant Man and the Wasp BD.jpg

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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