The first Marvel Cinematic Universe film since the portentous Avengers: Infinity War is a welcome return to a more grounded superhero movie that positively overflows with charm and wit.

Under house arrest since the events of Captain America: Civil War, reformed thief-turned-haphazard superhero Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) must become Ant-Man once again to assist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man, and Hank's daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), now hero-ing up a storm as the Wasp, in their efforts to retrieve Hank's wife (and Hope's mother) Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) from the Quantum Realm, the miniature universe that exists inside molecules.

Their task brings them into conflict with a quantum-powered villain known as Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and a nefarious arms-dealer named Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins).

Unquestionably the most light-hearted franchise from the House of Marvel, that quality is in full swing in this consistently laugh-out-loud funny sci-fi adventure.

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Rudd, Lilly and Douglas make for a fantastic central trifecta, and many of the funniest moments are borne out of their three-way dynamic. Michael Pena provides even more supporting laughs than in the first film as Luis, Lang's partner-in-crime turned partner-in-business who can really tell an anecdote.

As Ghost, John-Kamen (Ready Player One) provides one of the most reasonably-motivated Marvel villains ever seen, but it would've been nice to see a bit more of Goggins (Vice Principals).

The film's light-heartedness is embodied in its visuals as well – the set-pieces here easily outdo those in the first film in terms of inventiveness. Indeed, the 80s sci-fi adventures of director Joe Dante (Gremlins) are evoked by the film's sunny tone, spry wit and aesthetic dazzle.

Ant-Man and the Wasp may ultimately feel a little inconsequential, but again, in light of Infinity War, which was seemingly nothing but consequence, that is more than okay.

Star rating:

Four out of Five.

Cast:

Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly

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Director:

Peyton Reed

Running time:

118 minutes

Rating:

PG (Violence and coarse language)

Verdict:

A hilarious high-tech lark