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‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ may be small, but the laughs are huge

After soul-crushing ‘Infinity War,’ this film is a breath of fresh and exhilarating air.

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‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ may be small, but the laughs are huge

"Ant-Man and the Wasp" premiered in the US on July 6, 2018.

Photo courtesy of IMBD

"Ant-Man and the Wasp" premiered in the US on July 6, 2018.

Photo courtesy of IMBD

Photo courtesy of IMBD

"Ant-Man and the Wasp" premiered in the US on July 6, 2018.

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“Well, the ‘60s were fun, but now I’m paying for it!”

It only took 30 appearances for Stan Lee to finally find his best cameo yet, in the long-awaited “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” which was not only hilarious, but was more proof of the lighter atmosphere felt in the sequel.

The follow-up to the surprise 2015 hit was a breath of fresh air for fans of both the superhero genre and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), given the emotionally destructive ending from this year’s “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The film takes place following the events of “Captain America: Civil War,” where Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has been placed on house arrest by the FBI for two years for aiding the fugitive Captain America in the Leipzig/Halle Airport fight. As he nears the end of his sentence, he must risk his freedom to help Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) save Hope’s mom, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has been trapped in the quantum realm for 30 years.

Scott and Hope, finally donning the new Wasp suit, try to save Janet; however, they come across Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a mysterious woman with the ability to phase through objects, who has another plan for the quantum realm technology.

The arrival of Hope in the Wasp suit marks a rare instance for the MCU, as she is the first female superhero to be featured in the title and have a lead role in a film.

The story itself moves at an even brisker and smoother pace than the first, doing well to set up Scott, Hope and Hank’s troubles with the law before jumping into a story that puts its pedal to the metal and never lets go.

It ditches the heist movie feel of its predecessor, and replaces it with a heart tugging story with enjoyable humor from start-to-finish, topping even some of the most outrageous moments from the first.

One of the most clever and laugh-so-hard-you-can’t-breathe sequences in the film comes when Scott and Hope must infiltrate his daughter’s school to get something he hid in a trophy she gifted to him.

The issue appears in the new suit Hank gave him, which refractors cause Scott to constantly grow and shrink in uncontrollable fashion, leaving him either too big or just small enough to pass for a student without his hall pass.

When shrunk to child-size, the expert use of visual effects and camera angles not only make it believable to see Scott as a child, but raises every joke made at his expense to new levels of hilarity.

The sequel also brilliantly brings back Scott’s best friend Luis (Michael Pena)’s penchant for long-winded storytelling, even in the most life-threatening of situations.

The film has more fun with the shrinking and growing effects that make up Ant Man, featuring many larger scale set-pieces such as a destructive car chase through the San Francisco suburbs and downtown The visual effects are much more beautiful and incredibly detailed than in the first.

The most impressive visual effects featured are not in the action scenes, but in the de-aging process used for the flashbacks involving Hank (who previously had this done for the first film), Janet and Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne).

Watching these flashbacks, it’s easy to think they were filmed 30 years ago with the actors’ younger selves thanks to stellar de-aging effects, which Marvel will be taking a larger risk with in next year’s “Captain Marvel,” in which Samuel L. Jackson portrays a younger Nick Fury in a prominent role.

Aside from a gut-wrenching mid-credits scene that makes the wait for “Avengers 4” all the more unbearable, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” does well to stand on its own thanks to wonderful humor, charming performances from Rudd, Lily and Pena and thrilling action.

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