Movie review: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp'

Brad Keefe

If Ant-Man is a lesser superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and sorry, ant-bro, but you are — his sequel again confirms that sometimes less is more.

Midway through 2018, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is the third release of the year in the MCU, and it feels small in the massive shadow of “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” It doesn't approach their scope, almost feeling like a quaint indie in comparison.

But it's also a big-budget summer popcorn flick that's a fun ride throughout with a wry sense of humor — even if it's not exactly memorable. I'll take that over another superhero movie that feels too weighty (I'm looking at you, D.C.).

Cliff's Notes recap to get you caught up: Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) was a thief with a heart of gold who found himself embroiled in intrigue when he stole a suit that can make its wearer really, really small. What is this? A superhero for ants?

This is also a sort-of sequel to “Captain America: Civil War,” as Scott, who vowed not to use the suit under penalty of law, is now on house arrest after donning it during that film's big battle.

While imprisoned at home, Scott finds himself reconnecting with the suit's inventor, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and his daughter, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly). They're hoping to find Hope's mother (Michelle Pfeiffer), who is lost in another quantum dimension or some such.

Original “Ant-Man” director Peyton Reed returns and continues to carve out a niche for this superhero, with playful, fun action sequences and humor built around the shrinking superhero (who also can, at times, get really, really big).

This big/little playground does again lead to some inventive action sequences that don't feel like every other superhero flick. Have I mentioned I'm a little tired of superhero flicks?

Add in the charm and comedic timing of Rudd, who seems to take some humble glee in his second-tier MCU status.

This is not on the level of my current favorite Marvel movie superhero, but it's similar to how Ryan Reynolds embraced his inner Deadpool. I move Rudd and Ant-Man up the list.

Reed keeps things well-paced and peppers the action with humor (including the returning Michael Peña and T.I. as Scott's security business partners).

Not everything clicks, as the story of the tragic anti-villain, Ghost, and Pfeiffer's lost mom character don't do as much to move the emotional needle.

And while, yes, there's a post-credit scene that's a must-see, this is still ultimately kinda forgettable summer fluff. But I say buy your popcorn, sit in the air-conditioning and enjoy the ride.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp”

Opens Thursday

3 stars out of 5