Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Well, here we are. It is time for the first Marvel movie of a new year. That means we can expect articles about how these are all the same, they expend too much energy focusing on setting things up for the future, these aren’t really cinema, oh and how critics of them are totally out of touch with what general audiences are looking for from their entertainment. I will refrain from dipping into the usual, though I will say that Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (113 minutes, plus mid/post-credit scenes) has its setups baked into its story. Otherwise, yeah, it’s the MCU.
The charm of Ant-Man and especially Ant-Man and the Wasp is that they lean into their humor and don’t take themselves as seriously as most of the MCU does. The second is a comedy that happens to have some action in it and serves as a break from these world-threatening plots.
Quantumania throws these characters into just another Marvel movie. There is humor in it; however, it is the normal “jokes to lighten a serious situation” stuff, as opposed to the character-based gags that made the first two actually funny. The comedy here feels out of place considering that our heroes are facing an enemy who could lead to the end of all life. Or something.
Say what you want about the MCU, but the individual movies know what they are. They know what genres they want to splice in with the formula. Quantumania is a mish-mash of concepts that don’t work. It is action, comedy, adventure, fantasy and world-building. All of it is dull and arbitrary. This comes off as a movie that was only made because they had to tell this part of the larger story somewhere.
The stakes are definitely meant to be higher (the alleged danger of what they are dealing with is beaten into the ground repeatedly), yet the pacing and uneven mixture of tones do not reflect that. The visuals, which are the highlight, are a victim of this, too. The majority of Quantumania takes place in the Quantum Realm, a magical world within our world. It is filled with strange creatures, killer robots, incredible flying machines and other amazing sights. There is no wonder, no sense of spectacle, no creativity in how anything is used. The characters and everything around them have been swallowed up by a production that never takes the time to be entertaining. This is no fun.
The plot is super-thin: Scott’s now twenty-something daughter Cassie has built a device that ends up sucking the two of them, Hope, Janet and Hank down to the Quantum Realm where they must face an enemy who wants to use them to escape so he can blah blah blah. Most of this consists of the characters talking about how horrible this guy is while the movie goes through the motions.
The villain is Kang (as foreshadowed in the Disney+ series Loki) and viewers should get used to him because he is the new big bad. Jonathan Majors projects a sense of menace in the role that is completely missing from the screenplay. Kang is no different from any other murderous villain an Avenger has fought. The screenplay by Jeff Loveness gives him no life, personality or genuine emotion (besides anger, I suppose). Any second where the character is interesting is entirely due to the talent of Jonathan Majors.
Peyton Reed has directed all three Ant-Mans and, previously, comedies like Bring It On and The Break-Up. He is obviously comfortable working in that genre. Unfortunately, he wasn’t asked to do so here. Instead, it is a fantasy epic that isn’t epic and doesn’t know what to do with its fantasy elements. Next up is Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3 in May. Hopefully, that one knows what it is.
2¼ out of 5
Paul Rudd as Scott Lang
Jonathan Majors as Kang
Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang
Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne
Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet Van Dyne
Michael Douglas as Dr. Hank Pym
Directed by Peyton Reed
Screenplay by Jeff Loveness