The second Avengers film made it standard to have both a giant and a tiny Ant-Man. So, this iteration of Ant-Man does all that and also introduces a second flying tiny superhero called “The Wasp”. All this to impress an audience that is already fazed after the events of Infinity War.
The movie begins with a socially awkward FBI agent inflicting what is a thinly veneered monologue on Scott Lang’s daughter in order to explain why the Ant-Man has been under house arrest for the past two years. We find out that fraternizing with Captain America is a punishable offense and that both Hank Pym and his daughter Hope are also on the FBI’s wanted list. Scott then has a weird dream where it appears as though he is Pym’s wife. He secretly contacts Hank and Hope to inform him of this. They then set out on an adventure to recover Pym’s wife from what is dubbed the “quantum realm’. They do this while constantly trying to evade a series of foes which includes a phase shifting kung-fu master, an underworld illegal arms supplier and also the FBI. The laboratory-in-a-suitcase gag serves as a recurring MacGuffin, the possession of which is the primary source of contention in the plot.
In the usual Marvel fashion the action is well choreographed, replete with humorous contrast and witty one-liners. The idea of Ant-Man becoming becoming a giant, swimming and intercepting a ferry is possibly the largest and most amusing set piece in the film. The overarching plot manages to be coherent though it risks over-stretching towards the end of its run time.
The primary antagonist is one Ava Starr who is also called the “Ghost” and has phase-shifting capabilities that allow her to walk through walls and other solid objects. Her father dies in a fatal laboratory accident after an apparent betrayal by Hank Pym, early in his career. Thus she wants revenge on Pym and to fix her own situation in the process. The problem with her backstory is that all of it is completely new to the audience and needs to be covered within the already long run time of the film. Her current father figure and guide is another one of Pym’s disgruntled assistants, named Bill Foster. Foster’s attempt to convey her backstory is a drawn out expository affair interspersed with bland flashbacks. It seems that the movie is also aware of this issue and liberally sprinkles random jokes over the scene to ensure the audience is hooked. This entire subplot is a check mark on a larger list, without any real attachment for the audience. Later on, what should’ve been a poignant parting moment between Foster and Ava, actually ends up being a very flat series of actions with no real meaning. It is hard to take these emotional moments seriously, when the film itself never wants to.
The other pursuants have far more conventional reasons for acquiring the suitcase ranging from following the law to making huge amounts of money. This causes the other problem of the film, having no true antagonist. One could argue that a MacGuffin chase isn’t always about the villains. But introducing villains and then doing a shoddy job of integrating their motivations into the plot is unacceptable.
Overall, the CGI business is the only aspect that holds up. Avoid this one, as you won’t remember it anyway.