The brilliance of Marvel is even though they keep cranking out superhero movie after superhero movie, they keep things fresh by allowing each film to have its own tone and style.
Operating in the breezy, low-stakes corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Ant-Man. Coming along after the apocalyptic overload of “Avengers: Infinity War,” Ant-Man’s second standalone feature “Ant-Man and the Wasp” feels like more of a palate cleanser than anything else.
It’s silly fun and not much else, but that’s OK because the fate of the entire universe hanging in the balance every time out tends to get exhausting.
Much of how you feel about Ant-Man has to do with how you feel about Paul Rudd, who plays Scott Lang, the hero with a special suit that allows him to change his relative size at will and gives him the ability to command ants to boot.
Rudd has a goofy charm and it permeates the entire movie. Ant-Man gets equal billing with the Wasp, a hero with similar powers played by Evangeline Lilly, who returns as Hope Van Dyne, scientist and daughter of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), creator of the suit and the original Ant-Man.
We catch up with Scott as he is on house arrest for his role in helping out Captain America in “Captain America: Civil War.” Scott’s actions make Hope and Hank criminal accessories and the two are on the lam and estranged from Scott when the movie begins.
But, that can’t last for long as the driving action in “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is driven by the hunt for Hope’s mother Janet (played by the on-the-sidelines-too-long Michelle Pfeiffer), who disappeared in the “Quantum Realm” some 30 years ago.
Mixed into all of the clever action set-pieces built around big things becoming small and small things becoming big is an outstanding supporting cast who help make it pretty easy to look past the film’s shortcomings.
Sidekick Hall-of-Famer and motor-mouthed ex-con Luis (Michael Pena) returns (his “truth serum” scene is worth the price of admission), along with his two flunkies Dave (T.I.) and Kurt (David Dastmalchian).
Also joining the mix is the great Walton Goggins as a low-level crime boss up to no good and Randall Park as Agent Woo, Scott’s comedic foil who’s always trying to catch him in the Ant-Man act.
Also floating around, but with less of an impact are the physically unstable Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) and an old rival of Dr. Pym played by Laurence Fishburne.
When it all comes together, wisecracks are made, Pez dispensers grow 10 feet tall and nobody gets hurt (well, at least too bad). That checks all the boxes for a fine summer flick.
Ultimately, “Ant-Man and the Wasp” is an enjoyable enough movie as long as you’re able to keep your expectations miniaturized.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is rated PG-13 for some sci-fi action and violence.