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REVIEW: While a lot of fun, ‘Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ lacks an emotional punch to make it memorable

While ‘Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ is an enjoyable movie – a good number of action sequences, a big, new world to discover, and a lot of nice thrilling super-hero moments, and funny one-liners – the movie feels hollow by the end of it all.

Despite the fact that one has to shrink to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Quantum Realm, everything about Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania is large in proportion and scale. The movie throws a relatively simple adventure story at its heroes in the aforementioned location and then proceeds to delve into the backstory of two characters, namely the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) and the film’s villain, Kang (played by Jonathan Majors). If one were to really look into the narrative structure of ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,’ while we are following Scott Lang’s perspective (played by Paul Rudd), the ones with any real emotional depth and character work are those played by Pfeiffer and Majors. In fact, the film would have been more honest if it was called ‘Kang and the Wasp: Quantumania.’

The issue is that Scott Lang’s Ant-Man is not a very complex character. All he ever wanted was to go legit after his stint in prison and to have a relationship with his daughter Cassie (played by Kathryn Newton in this movie). Now, in his third movie (fifth if you include his appearances in ‘Captain America: Civil War’ and ‘Avengers: Endgame’), Lang has gotten all that he could ever want: a family and redemption from his past. After all, he helped save the world as an Avenger.

With nowhere to go character-wise, the movie tries to create a sort of friction between him and Cassie. He has missed out on so much time and they seem to be on opposite ends of things: he wants her to grow up safe and “normal” while she wants to help people. We even begin the film with her in jail for having been at a protest. Their relationship, throughout the movie, is tested by Scott Lang’s preference for a quieter life while Cassie is in a rush to change the world. It’s never strong enough or deep enough to push the story forward, though.

Photo: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania trailer

Instead, as the five protagonists – Scott Lang, Cassie, Hope Van Dyne (played by Evangeline Lilly), Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) – find themselves in the Quantum Realm, we learn more about Janet and the mysterious Kang and the story really revolves around the both of them.

Photo: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania trailer

While we discover Kang’s backstory (as a villain) and Janet’s life in the Quantum Realm, which makes up most of the movie, as the film reaches its climax, what is missing are key narrative relationships that are completely left underdeveloped. For the ending to hit with any sort of emotional depth, we needed to see them build more of Scott and Cassie’s storyline (than the surface-level father-daughter disagreement), Hope and Janet (their storyline is left to one or two lines of dialogue and then left at that), and Scott and Hope. ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ relies heavily on these three relationships for the movie to have any sort of emotional weight but they are only lightly explored, if at all. There are choices near the end that hinge on their dynamics but it doesn’t land its punches because the film hardly spends time on it.

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In fact, Hope makes a big choice near the end of the film and its crux is her feelings for Scott that are never reinforced in this movie. It is just something we take for granted.

Photo: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania trailer

Instead, we are being brought into the world of the Quantum Realm, a green-screen, CGI-heavy world that needs exploring as well. They introduce new characters from that world as well but none are given enough screen time or story beats to be interesting. The CGI world can be very distracting, and in my opinion, it is only Michelle Pfeiffer who never ever feels swallowed by all that special effects. She’s such a presence that she is unfazed at all by the sheer excessiveness of it all.

Photo: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania trailer

While the story is low on emotional punch, there are moments of pure comic book enjoyment. A whole sequence (hinted at in the trailer) of Ant-Man in the middle of a “probability storm” has him interacting with hundreds and thousands of different Ant-Mans. It is such a huge scene that director Peyton Reed creates marvelous visuals with that imagery. In a way, it resembles an army of ants and the meta-ness of that is quite thrilling,

So while ‘Ant-man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ is an enjoyable movie – a good number of action sequences, a big, new world to discover, and a lot of nice thrilling super-hero moments, and funny one-liners – the movie feels hollow by the end of it all. After the movie ended, I felt more interested in Kang and Janet Van Dyne than I did about the two heroes whose names are on the title.

Photo: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania trailer

After the nth comic book movie after the past decade of comic book movies, they really need to do more to keep this interesting. I’m excited for Jonathan Majors as he is such an exciting talent but there’s nothing else to really hold on to. Just another movie in the larger scheme of the MCU.

My Rating:

5 stars - Don't Look Up review

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Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania is now showing in cinemas nationwide. Buy your tickets here.

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Movie Info

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction
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