Premiere Of Disney And Marvel's "Ant-Man And The Wasp" held at El Capitan Theatre.

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Movie review: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp'

Not only is the protagonist small, but so are the stakes, relatively speaking.

July 06, 2018 - 8:00 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —  Put down that can of Raid: The smiles and chuckles that the endearing "Ant-Man and the Wasp" delivers get the job done.

The tongue-in-cheek, light-and-breezy sequel to 2015's "Ant-Man," "Ant-Man and the Wasp" revisits ex-convict and ex-cat burglar (in Robin Hood mode) Scott Lang, played once again by Paul Rudd.

He was recruited in the original by scientist Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, to wear a suit that allows the inadvertent superhero to shrink, gain super-strength, and then re-enlarge whenever he needs or wants to.

And he is coming to the end of his two-year house-arrest sentence.

So, yes, this is an adaptation of — wait for it — a Marvel comic, with Ant-Man in a more playfully broad comedic vein than most of the Marvel-ous superheroes.

It joins the "Guardians of the Galaxy" franchise and the "Deadpool" franchise in bringing welcome levity to the Marvel comic book-inspired universe. 

Director Peyton Reed ("Bring It On," "Down With Love," "The Break-Up," "Yes Man"), who directed the enjoyable original, returns in the director's chair and once again concentrates on wit and charm rather than special effects pyrotechnics, approaching but not quite matching the fun of the original.

Not that the Honey-I-Shrunk-the-Superhero effects are infrequent or subpar — they're still in evidence and skillfully executed. But they're there in the service of  the story, the characters, and the relationships, especially the three — count 'em, three — father-daughter storylines.

Rudd is a fine everyman, an ordinary guy with extraordinary superpowers, struggling to balance Lang's size-shifting persona with his responsibilities as a dad, when he's confronted by Pym, played again by Douglas, and his daughter Hope, played again by Evangeline Lilly, who have a new mission for him that explains the film's title and brings his wife/her mother, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, presumably gone, back into the picture.

With Rudd, who also co-wrote the screenplay along with Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Andrew Barrer, and Gabriel Ferrari, director Reed adroitly juggles shifting perspective, slapstick bits, familial bonds, action set pieces, and an emotional reunion.

But what's probably the most appealing aspect of the sequel is how unpretentious and low-key it is compared to its brethren. Grandiose it is not. 

Just the opposite, in fact, as it resists the temptation to indulge in summer blockbuster excessiveness.

Not only is the protagonist small, but so are the stakes, relatively speaking. And that's refreshing — a mid-summer respite from all the hoo-ha explosiveness.

So we'll shrink 2 1/2 stars out if 4 for the funny, friendly, family-focused "Ant-Man and the Wasp." No big deal — well, a little deal — but one nicely dealt.