Film Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania
Director: Peyton Reed
In Theaters: 02.17
The Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are divided into different “phases,” each one advancing the larger narrative. Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is the beginning of phase five, and the key to enjoying it rests on whether your interest lies more in jumping into this next phase or in seeing a satisfying Ant-Man movie.
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), A.K.A. Ant-Man, is basking in the glow of his newfound fame as an Avenger who helped save the universe from the diabolical Thanos. He’s also enjoying his romance with scientist Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), who is also his partner, “The Wasp.” What Scott is not enjoying is seeing his activist daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton, Freaky), getting herself arrested as it reminds him a bit too much of his own criminal past and worries him about her future.
Scott soon finds that there are more pressing problems: It seems that science wiz Cassie, along with her grandpa Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), have been working on a way to explore the mysterious Quantum Realm. When they send a signal into that world, the entire family are whisked away into inner space. It’s up to Hope’s mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who already spent 30 years trapped there, to guide them, and to warn them of a deadly foe with a serious grudge against her.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is eye-popping sci-fi that evokes Jules Verne by way of Luc Besson, and it’s a spectacular, if cheesy, effects showcase. It doesn’t evoke much of the previous Ant-Man films, which were fun, lighthearted comedy adventures that rank among my favorite Marvel entries. There are surprisingly few laughs to be had here, and the sweet, family-movie vibe is replaced by “a throw everything at the screen and see what sticks” approach. It’s not without entertainment value, especially if you have a high tolerance for noisy, frenetic nonsense and favor special effects over characters and story. It’s a wild ride that refuses to slow down.
The big selling point for comic book aficionados is the true introduction of the villainous Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors, The Harder They Fall, Devotion), who is being touted as the next Thanos. The weak script focuses on building the pomp and circumstance of his unveiling and that of the Quantum Realm. This comes at the expense of giving our heroes character arcs or any interesting moments together. The elements of comedy and heart have always been where director Peyton Reed shone brightest in the previous Ant-Man films, and he’s floundering here.
Rudd is reliable as ever, though it’s by far his least memorable appearance in the role, and perennially weakest link Lilly neither adds or detracts. Pfieffer, one of the great movie stars of the past 40 years, owns this movie and brings magnetism, timeless beauty and intensity. Majors gives it his all, though Kang is not a particularly interesting character, with his background remaining vague, his motivations virtually non existent and his potential for evil talked about but never effectively demonstrated. Corey Stoll (West Side Story) as the bizarre baddie M.O.D.O.K. is too wacky to be taken seriously and too pathetic to be funny.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a lackluster entry in the MCU canon by any standard and left me feeling like I’d just watched a commercial rather than an event movie. It provides just enough comic book fan service and effects for devoted die hards. If you’re looking for your Marvel fix, Quantumania will suffice. After all, you never have to wait long for the next one.
Read more reviews of Marvel films:
Film Review: Captain Marvel
Film Review: Thor: Love and Thunder
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