Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
MOVIE | Marvel’s new Ant-Man adventure in the quantum realm is formulaic but fun
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➤ Rated PG-13
➤ S1 / V5 / L4 *
Ready for a big movie with a tiny hero? Phase 5 of the long-running Marvel Cinematic Universe begins with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The franchise is heading toward a massive multiversal war scheduled to take place a few years from now, but this movie gives us a preview of the big baddie, Kang the Conqueror.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania begins with Ant-Man Scott Lang (once again played by the eminently likable Paul Rudd) settling into his new life after helping save half the universe in Avengers: Endgame. The littlest Avenger has become a minor celebrity in his neighborhood, but he’s still struggling to make up for the five years he lost with his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) during the Infinity War. Cassie, for her part, has started using Ant-Man’s shrinking technology to become something of an activist.
Cassie has also been working with Scott’s girlfriend Hope (Evangeline Lilly), aka The Wasp, and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to study the quantum realm—the timey-wimey space beneath our universe where Scott was stuck for five years. But the person who knows the most about the quantum realm is Hope’s mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who spent decades down there and refuses to talk about what she experienced.
Science is never safe in a Marvel movie, and much to Janet’s displeasure the whole family gets sucked into the quantum realm.
What they find is an entire micro universe complete with myriad strange sentient beings. The quantum realm feels like a cross between Star Wars and Avatar—everything has an organic galactic texture. But this colorful sub-cosmos is ruled by the oppressive Kang (Jonathan Majors)—an evil tyrant who needs Scott’s help to escape the subatomic universe so he can get back to wreaking havoc in the multiverse.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania offers audiences an enjoyable adventure with fun characters. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Michael Douglas give solid enough performances. Douglas looks like he’s having a good time. But Jonathan Majors as Kang is the highlight. Majors imbues the character with a mix of weariness and menace, and his Kang possesses a restrained physicality.
The best superhero stories involve villains with an interesting justification for their villainy. Kang is a villain who’s primarily at war with himself, which, to my mind, qualifies as interesting.
The script doesn’t break much new ground with its somewhat formulaic plot about outsiders showing up to free people from oppression. The movie tries to weave in some themes of family conflict. Scott tries to understand Cassie’s youthful enthusiasm for getting involved. Cassie can’t understand why her father wants to play it safe. Janet keeps secrets for no apparent reason, which causes Hope pain. The message: Family members need to trust each other. But the stakes to these conflicts are pretty small, which keeps the audience from being invested.
Despite the return of director Peyton Reed, Quantumania abandons the heist genre that made the earlier Ant-Man films feel different from generic superhero movies. This movie pays lip service to that heritage, but it’s more of a space-opera action comedy. Quantumania pushes us further into Marvel’s new multiverse arc. Also, I keenly felt the absence of Michael Peña, who played a scene-stealing ex-con in those earlier films.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania doesn’t feel like an Ant-Man movie, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had. The movie has sweeping computer-generated imagery, quirky new characters (I was pleased to see William Jackson Harper make an appearance), and an old-fashioned triumph of good over evil. It’s not a complicated or challenging film. It’s a crowd-pleasing popcorn flick that stays in its lane.
*Ratings from kids-in-mind.com, with quantity of sexual (S), violent (V), and foul-language (L) content on a 0-10 scale, with 10 high
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