Ant-Man and the Wasp (4 stars)

Ant-Man and the Wasp

Paul Rudd makes a triumphant return as Marvel's miniature superhero

It is with size jokes, insect jokes and joke jokes that Ant-Man and the Wasp grabs you by the snout and makes you like it even more than its predecessor. Few didn't rate the 2015 hit but we held our breath for the next instalment because, really, how often do sequels live up to their mommas?

The eternally youthful Paul Rudd returns as Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, dad to adorable daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson), who knows how to charm without making you want to throw up. Post-prison, Lang is trapped at his own home by an annoying ankle sensor and an equally effective detective (the exquisite Randall Park). And so this man-child spends his days playing the drums, practicing his indoor basketball and tobogganing down the exterior staircase.

But the fun soon stops when fugitives Dr Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope (probably the best Evangeline Lilly we've seen) appear to seek Lang's help. Hope's mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) is lost in a quantum realm and only Lang's unique skills (and hapless luck) can get her back. But no one anticipates the scary white vibrating molecules of Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), a peril unknown to Lang or Pym. And do we really expect Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) to supply Hope with those vital scientific parts for the subatomic tunnel? Not with that haircut, he won't.

Although decried by some as over-plotted, this follow-up (directed by returnee helmer Peyton Reed) is by turns silly, subtle and scintillating. It's brimming with chemistry: between the leads, supports, and especially Lang's ex-con co-workers played by Michael Peña, TI, and David Dastmalchian – three people you could watch all day. Want a tightly packed bundle of fast dialogue, heady danger and speculation as to which stars are coming back for a third film? Ant-Man and the Wasp is that ticket.

General release from Thu 2 Aug.

Ant-Man and the Wasp

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 58min
  • Directed by: Peyton Reed
  • Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Peña, Tip "T.I." Harris, Judy Greer, David Dastmalchian, Michael Douglas, Randall Park, Hannah John-Kamen, Walton Goggins, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne
  • UK release: 3 August 2018

Sequel to Marvel's 2015 superhero flick Ant-Man, which sees the eponymous shrinking hero (Rudd) joining forces with the Wasp (Lilly) to rescue her long-lost mother (Pfeiffer) from a quantum realm. Silly yet also subtle, the film brims with chemistry from its strong cast.