Film review: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ provides all humor, no tension

Film review: 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' provides all humor, no tension

Off of the heels of “Avengers: Infinity War”, the Marvel cinematic universe needed something lighthearted. However, it would appear that this emphasis on a fun, feel-good movie, may be the reason that “Ant-Man and the Wasp” feels so flat. That’s not to say it’s impossible to enjoy – there are certainly some enjoyable moments – but more often than not, attempts at tension and humor feel forced and simplistic.

“Ant-Man and the Wasp” is a follow up to 2015’s “Ant-Man,” yet watching the first film is not essential to the plot. It follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), formerly “Ant-Man,”  who currently is under house arrest due to his involvement with Captain America in “Captain America: Civil War.” The day before his house arrest ends, Scott has a vision of Janet Van-Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), wife of his former boss Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and mother of Scott’s former love-interest, Hope Van-Dyne (Evangeline Lily), who has been stuck in the “Quantum Realm” for 30 years.

Despite having a falling out with Hank and Janet, Scott informs them of his vision, and Scott must don the “Ant-Man” suit once again, now with Hope as “The Wasp,” as they attempt to find a way to bring Janet out of the Quantum Realm. However, things are quickly complicated further as a mysterious woman who can phase through solid matter, known only as “Ghost,” attempts to foil their plans. In addition to that, the police and FBI begin to track them down, as Hank and Hope are both fugitives.

The problem with this movie lies not in the performances. Each performance is fine, if not great. Paul Rudd is incredibly lovable as the part time superhero, part time father, and Evangeline Lily does great as the more stern, more experienced fighter of the duo. However, while both are great separately, the chemistry between them is lacking. Saying this is their fault is a stretch, as there is no point in the writing where any chemistry feels as if it could have been inserted.

The action sequences are fun as well. Since both heroes can shrink, this adds a new layer of intricacy and ingenuity to the fight sequences that is refreshing to see in a climate where lots of superhero movie fight scenes look the same.

The real problem lies in the movies lack of tension and horrid pacing. The movie starts abruptly, without any real introduction. Similarly, the end of the movie feels rushed as well – almost anticlimactic.

There is no final fight or huge twist. Things just resolve themselves, leaving the audience feeling unsatisfied. There’s no tension to begin with, and the lack of tension in the climax only amplifies and reminds the audience of this unfortunate fact.

The lack of tension derives most likely from the objective of the heroes: saving The Wasp’s mother. It certainly is heroic, but it feels like small fry compared to other superhero movies. Perhaps that’s what Marvel was going for after the harrowing stakes of “Infinity War,” but in the end you don’t feel as if the heroes made the world a better place. Nothing seems to be at stake.

Even the conflict with the villain is second to the heroes’ ultimate objective. In fact, there is really never any real push to stop the villain. The heroes only really begin to care when the villain gets in the way of their objective.

The fact that the heroes are fugitives as well makes their journey less sympathetic. In the end, the journey of the protagonists feels almost selfish; their cause is to save someone only they wish to see, they barely stop to fight the villain, and on top of it all, they’re doing it all illegally. The lack of stakes and lack of empathy for our protagonists leads to a near tensionless film, with a bland finale to round it out. Instead of a movie that feels like a balance between comedy, action, and drama, it feels as if the writers went all in on cheesy jokes and one-liners, taking the “super” out of the “superhero movie” genre.

“Ant-man and the Wasp” is not the worst movie. There are some genuinely enjoyable parts to the film. However, one would be hard pressed to tell you what those parts were after the credits rolled. There are moments that garner a laugh, but nothing that really sticks with you. The end product feels like a rushed story with no real tension or grand, full circle character arcs to be found.

There is fun to had with “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” but maybe not for everyone. If you’re looking for one-liners and some fun jokes here and there, then maybe give this one a go. But if the lack of an exciting story turns you away, you won’t miss out on much by passing on this one.