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Reviews » Ultra HD Reviews » Ant-Man and the Wasp
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG-13 // October 16, 2018 // Region 0
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted October 15, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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"Do you guys just put the word 'quantum' in front of everything?"

Let's see here.

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::peers down at clipboard, then looks up at this screenshot again:: Ant-Man. The Wasp. Yup, the title checks out.

Ant-Man and the Wasp is, of course, a followup to 2015's Ant-Man, but just as importantly, it also serves as a sequel to Captain America: Civil War. After that whole thing with Ant-ManGiant-Man squaring off against half of the Avengers in Berlin, in defiance of the Sokovian Accords, pretty much everyone's peeved with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is miffed with him because Scott swiped his suit, put him and his daughter on the FBI's radar, and have left 'em on the run. Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is miffed with Scott because he didn't ask her to march with him into battle. C'mon, she and her dad have been working on a fancy new Wasp suit and everything! And the Feds are miffed because...y'know, international incident. Despite trashing Leipzig/Halle Airport, Scott somehow managed to walk away with a slap on the wrist. Two years house arrest, five years probation, gotta swear off Pym particles and avoid contact with any unsavory characters...namely, Hank or Hope. Violation of any of the above gets Scott locked in the clink for twenty years.

It's been a drag not being able to so much as step outside for the past couple of years, but hey, Scott's managed to set up a security consulting company – X-Con! – with Luis (Michael Peña) and his pals. He's able to stay closer to his beloved daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). And hey, only a couple more days until he's a free(ish) man!

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And then he has that vision.

Scott somehow sees through the eyes of Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the wife and mother that Hank and Hope had feared dead for decades. Maybe it's just a kooky dream, Scott says in the voicemail he leaves, but ::blowdart sound::

So, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a series of ticking clocks. Hank and Hope temporarily liberate Scott from house arrest, but he's gotta get back in a couple of days before Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) realizes he's slinked out and tosses him in the pokey. The idea is that something in Scott's brain may hold the key to pinpointing where in the Quantum Realm, precisely, Janet is...but even if they get a fix, they only have a brief window to retrieve her before that whole deck of cards is shuffled again. The mysterious, incorporeal Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) is after Pym's conveniently mobile lab, having dire need for all that quantum tech before her time runs out. Oh, and just for good measure, black market dealer-slash-restaurateur Sonny Burch (Walton Goggins) has made some hefty promises to some very unpleasant people about being able to deliver Pym's lab as well. All the while, the Feds are doggedly running down every last sighting of Pym. Even if you can shrink down to a millimeter in height, it's tough to stay hidden when that many people are after you, there's still so much left to do, and next to no time in which to do it.

"Who are you, and why do you know so much about car wash protocol?"

One of the things I love so much about all those ticking clocks is that the true nemesis in Ant-Man and the Wasp is, ultimately, time. There isn't some cacklingly malevolent supervillain to vanquish. Flies in the ointment, sure, but no costumed megalomaniacs bent on world domination or psychopathic murderers. All these countdowns ensure that the stakes feel real and the threats imminent, despite a body count of zero. At least outside of flashbacks and stuff, no one dies. No one is gravely injured. There isn't so much as a bloody nose. Ant-Man and the Wasp is, both literally and figuratively, a family movie. It's a howlingly funny adrenaline rush with spectacular action sequences you could watch with your little ones. And it is indeed a movie about familial bonds (blood or otherwise), about fathers and their children, and about banding together in the toughest of times. Yes, the likes of Black Panther and, certainly, Infinity War demand a certain level of death and dismemberment from a narrative standpoint, and I'm hardly trying to suggest that those films are worse for it. Still, it's a refreshing change of pace for a movie like Ant-Man and the Wasp to be given license to just be fun.

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And, ooooohhhh, what fun it is! Director Peyton Reed and the half-battalion of credited writers strike a perfect balance all around. Lesser sequels like Deadpool 2 have a nasty habit of heaping on more for the sake of more...of saying "hey, remember that thing you liked in the first movie? Here it is again: the same thing in pretty much the exact same way!" Ant-Man and the Wasp tears off in a different direction. The original Ant-Man was a heist movie; this time, what Scott, Hope, and Hank are trying to retrieve is all part of a rescue mission. The closest they come to a heist is trying to avoid being on the receiving end.

With the even greater emphasis on family comes robust characterization. Even an antagonist like Ghost feels layered and nuanced, rather than moustache-twirling "mwah-hah-hah, your tech is mine now, Pym!" The same can't quite be said for Sonny Burch and his flunkies, but he at least continually advances the plot, even if he himself is only of so much consequence. But hey, Walton Goggins! The performances are terrific across the board. Fortson shines even more brightly than before as Cassie Lang, Ready Player One's Hannah John-Kamen turns in a powerful performance that ensures that Ghost's arc is all the more compelling, and Lawrence Fishburne as Bill Foster exudes his traditional gravity, authority, intelligence, and, here, parental love and responsibility.

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The size and scale – errr, so to speak – of the action throughout Ant-Man and the Wasp continually left my jaw scraping the ground. Mixed in with this beautifully choreographed ballet of punches, blasts, and swerving automobiles is extensive, inventive utilization of this franchise's distinctive powerset. The movie relishes in rapidly fiddling with sizes, shrinking to the tiniest fraction of an inch and bursting to a larger-than-life size over and over. It's such a sight to behold: say, an insect-sized Wasp flying into an SUV and restoring to full-size between two bad guys, they each wind up a punch, and then they end up slugging each other when their target shrinks down again. In the proudest Bullitt tradition, a massive chunk of the third act is devoted to breakneck chases down the streets of San Francisco. Even if it had just been a straightahead, old school car chase, I would've gawked at how expertly it was staged, photographed, and edited. Now imagine one of the vehicles is at that 1:64 scale or whatever of a Hot Wheels toy, the SUV that was in hot pursuit all of a sudden is perched directly overhead, and then the switch is flipped to return to full size. You got it: whoosh! Everyday household objects your kid could hold in the palm of his hand all of a sudden become massive roadblocks. Shrinking, growing, intangibility used in such rapid and entrancing effect...like I said! Fun.

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Ant-Man and the Wasp dashes along at a perfect pace. The storytelling has plenty going on but isn't overstuffed. It's not trying to scream through such an excess of ideas that things become jumbled or difficult to follow. The next big action setpiece is never too far away. The performances and characterization are engaging enough to maintain my interest even whenever something isn't shrinking down to microscopic size or blown up to colossal proportions. And it all comes in under two hours – the shortest Marvel release since Doctor Strange.

This lifelong comic book fanatic excitedly watches every single superhero movie that comes down the pike, and I wind up at least liking and generally loving pretty much all of 'em*. It's been a long while since one brought out this kind of childlike wonder and wide-eyed excitement. Ant-Man and the Wasp isn't just another superhero flick. It's able to balance being ridiculous, funny, sugary sweet, and thrilling in a way that most franchises simply can't. Its stakes come without stone-faced seriousness, exactly. The reception among friends and, sure, forums like DVD Talk has been all over the place, but for me, personally, Ant-Man and the Wasp ranks as one of my very favorite Marvel releases, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

If you were keeping your fingers crossed for Dolby Vision, at least you get that with the digital copy riding shotgun with this set. As for the disc itself, it's straightahead HDR10. Still looks dynamite, though. 2K digital intermediate or not, Ant-Man and the Wasp is sharp as a tack and sumptuously detailed. Directly comparing this Ultra HD presentation with the Blu-ray disc also included in this combo pack, I couldn't spot anything I'd begin to consider a flaw on either of them. With a completely digital pipeline, it comes as little surprise that the presentation is immaculate. I couldn't spot any missteps in either encode in the sections I sampled on Blu-ray or throughout the entirety of the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc.

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Its visuals by design aren't candy-colored or hypersaturated, by and large; as director Peyton Reed points out repeatedly throughout the set's extras, he wanted Ant-Man and the Wasp to feel rooted in the real world. Even with that more grounded palette, I'm struck by how much more immediate and vivacious the film's colors are in UHD. While there's certainly more to HDR than eyeball-searing bursts of light, those that crave these sorts of standout moments won't walk away disappointed, whether it's Vintage Ant-Man's wrist blaster, the propulsive boosters of the Quantum Pod, the way the sun beams into Scott's apartment, or the neon of X-Con's signage. There are kind of a bunch of people waving flashlights directly at the camera, which I know is HDR 101, but damned if it doesn't make me smile every time. I can't get enough of the way the light catches the metal of its titular heroes' suits either.

The advantage of a visual design heavily oriented around the real world we know and love is that the world we don't know – the Quantum Realm – feels all the more alien by comparison. Its dazzling prism of color is nothing short of spectacular, courtesy of HDR. Heck, even when there's no color to speak of in the all-consuming darkness of The Void, the Pod's headlights still manage to leave me awestruck.

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This is, simply put, an outstanding presentation, and those in a position to choose will undoubtedly find it worth the extra few bucks to experience Ant-Man and the Wasp in Ultra HD. Beyond the considerable benefits of HDR, I repeatedly found myself impressed by this disc's improved definition and clarity, particularly in more panoramic shots. Look at the establishing shots of the San Francisco skyline or a certain voyager who's barely a speck on the screen when stepping out of the Pod into the Quantum Realm, and the Blu-ray presentation is wholly outclassed.

The same as The Avengers shifted aspect ratios when its first sequel rolled around, Ant-Man and the Wasp has leapt from the confines of 1.85:1 to the more expansive 2.39:1. In keeping with Marvel's other Ultra HD Blu-ray releases, the aspect ratio remains constant; no 1.90:1 IMAX imagery this time around either. The Ultra HD Blu-ray disc is a BD-66, and its Blu-ray counterpart is dual-layer as well.

Hey, I'm with you. I've been let down by many of the Dolby Atmos tracks that Disney has issued on Ultra HD Blu-ray, with low volume levels, flattened dynamics, and less in the way than there ought to be in object-based audio. When I plopped in Ant-Man and the Wasp, I set my receiver to my usual reference volume with the certainty that I'd have to crank it up moments later. Almost immediately, I was sonically smacked upside the head with a missile launch unleashing colossal, foundation-rattling waves of bass. So, maybe it's time to retire all those "Atmouse" quips; while still not quite a full five-star effort, Ant-Man and the Wasp comes the closest yet to the Atmos experience I've been aching for from Marvel and Disney.

Every element in the mix is, of course, startlingly clean, clear, and perfectly balanced. The LFE keeps the subwoofer pounding and punishing for a healthy percentage of the film's two hour runtime, whether it's something of the scale of a sixty-someodd foot giant stomping around, the thunderous roar of a garbage truck passing over a wee Matchbox-sized car, or even just a pop and his daughter sliding down the stairs on a cardboard box. Not every effect is as huge as I would expect – Pym's lab unexpectedly bursting to full size in a less-than-inconspicuous place, in particular – but generally, bass response is pretty much where I'd hoped it would be.

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The audio is wonderfully immersive as well. The sheer volume of things in flight ensure that there's no shortage of activity in the heights: The Wasp buzzing around, bullets blasting away at a turn-of-the-century chandelier, hundreds of thousands of ants serving as a flying GPS, Ghost dashing atop the roof of a van, and a certain someone soaring through the Quantum Realm, to list but a few. Oh, what's the fun in stopping now, though? I'll rattle off some more: haunting voices that encircle from every direction, an immersive dive into the Bay following Giant-Man's Nestea plunge* , an all-out assault with geysers of windshield wiper fluid, sparks and insectoid skittering inside Hank's lab, and the endless amount of shrinking and growing in an epic car chase – sending the badniks' fleet and all manner of debris soaring dozens of feet above the streets of San Francisco – rank among the audio's other standout moments, from above, behind, and all the way up front. Though less dazzling than the reference-quality likes of, say, Man of Steel or Blade Runner 2049, I'm still thrilled with what Marvel and Disney have delivered here, building upon the improvements we heard on Infinity War.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray disc also includes a pair of French dubs (one traditional, one dubbed in Québec) as well as tracks in Spanish, German, and Italian. The list of subtitles is so exhaustive that I'll just say whatever language you're hoping for, the smart money says it's included. The audio options are more limited on Blu-ray. You're looking at 24-bit, 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio in English, a stereo descriptive audio track, and Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Subtitles are similarly limited to English (SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Per usual, the Ultra HD Blu-ray disc itself doesn't include any extras whatsoever – not even Peyton Reed's audio commentary. That track and around a half hour's worth of other bonus features can instead be found on the regular Blu-ray disc in this set. It's worth pointing out that these extras, commentary included, feature optional subtitles as well.

  • Audio Commentary: Far and away the best of Ant-Man and the Wasp's extras is this commentary with Peyton Reed. Among the director's favorite talking points is his many sources of inspiration, rattling off a list that includes the cover art for The Police's "Ghost in the Machine", The Raid 2, a stack of Elmore Leonard novels, What's Up Doc?, Midnight Run, and – wow! – Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin's largely forgotten All of Me. The look of the film, its emphasis on characterization and familial relationships, and how to best approach a sequel are other key topics. You get to hear about everything from creating the largest physical set of any Marvel production so far to an all-Latino Smiths cover band. And if you're hoping for a tease at what the fourth Avengers flick, the next Ant-Man sequel, and...oh, why not?...a bunch of other fan-favorite franchises will soon have to offer, stick around through the end credits.
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  • Making-of Featurettes (23 min.; HD): Most of the disc's behind the scenes featurettes are love letters addressed to Ant-Man and the Wasp's four hero-types. "Back in the Suit" (6 min.) marvels at Paul Rudd's sense of humor, sprinkling all sorts of outtakes and improvised zingers throughout. Pretty much everyone on both sides of the camera chat about his Bill Murray-esque way of dealing with bizarre situations with a smirk, how game Marvel is for off-the-wall experimentation, and how the fun they're having on-set translates to the big screen.

    Hope pretty much stole every scene in the original Ant-Man, and "A Suit of Her Own" (5 min.) charts how her promise as a superhero has been officially fulfilled here. Along with an examination of Hope as a character and how Evangeline Lilly has brought her to life, we get a peek at the grueling training, extensive fight choreography, and the hyper-elaborate "gilver" Wasp suit that's worlds removed from the prototype we first saw a few years back.

    Sorry, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas; you have to share your Valentine of a featurette. "Subatomic Super Heroes" (4 min.) quickly touches on a rare venture into fantasy for Michael Douglas, the delicate line few actors could walk with a character as complicated as Hank Pym, Janet Van Dyne doubling as both a brilliant scientist and a hell of a warrior, and that Pfeiffer was always Evangeline Lilly's top draft pick to play her on-screen mom.

    Last up is "Quantum Perspective: The VFX and Production Design of Ant-Man and the Wasp" (7 min.), which explores...well, I guess the part after the colon already gives you the 20,000 foot view. Discussed here are more inventively embracing shrinking and growing in this sequel, playing with different scales and this whole macrophotography thing, tours of the shrinking lab set and Ghost's lair, the allure of filming in and around Atlanta, and lugging their cameras all the way from the Southeast to San Francisco. "Quantum Perspective" covers a tremendous amount of territory in its lean runtime, and I especially enjoyed how it points out all these background details in Pym's lab with regards to scale that I feel ridiculous for not having noticed myself.
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  • Gag Reels & Outtakes (4 min.; HD): Hey, there are three of 'em! First up are flubbed lines, all sorts of mugging for the camera, blown takes, prop mishaps, impromptu dancing, which...yup! It's a gag reel, alright. Next up is a Line-O-Rama with Stan Lee lobbing out a slew of different punchlines, and I swear that every single one of them is brilliant, cracking me up the entire time. That's a tough act to follow, but Tim Heidecker is, as ever, up to the challenge, riffing as a whale-watching cruise tour guide who has absolutely no idea what he's talking about.

  • Deleted Scenes (2 min.; HD): Thrill to a pair of additional scenes, clocking in at just over a minute and a half combined. "Worlds Upon Worlds" teases what we may see of the MicroverseQuantum Realm to come, featuring a short exchange with one of its native inhabitants. "Sonny's on the Trail" features a brief appearance by your hero and mine, Dave "Gruber" Allen, as a bookstore owner whose security camera caught Pym shrinking his lab. Peyton Reed offers optional commentary for these two scenes, but they're so short that there really isn't the runway to offer all that much insight.

This Ultra HD Blu-ray release includes a terrific lenticular slipcover, and a digital copy code for Movies Anywhere has been lovingly tucked inside the case. And, yes, it redeems in 4K. The Ultra HD Blu-ray disc isn't region coded because...y'know, Ultra HD Blu-ray, and its accompanying Blu-ray disc is all-region.

The Final Word
No, Ant-Man and the Wasp doesn't offer the moral complexity and expansive worldbuilding of Black Panther. It doesn't showcase the staggering scale or gut-wrenching emotions of Infinity War. And, y'know, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ant-Man and the Wasp is precisely the movie it sets out to be: endlessly funny, visually inventive, tugging just enough on the ol' heartstrings, delivering no shortage of uniquely spectacular action sequences that no other superhero franchise could ever match, and dropping the curtain before overstaying its welcome. It's a crowd-pleaser that successfully pleases crowds. It's a bear hug on a BD-66 disc. It's...well, Highly Recommended.
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