ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA (2023)
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Scott Lang aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is enjoying his post Thanos life, having written a bestselling book and being recognized as a world saving Avenger. He is dismayed to find his activist daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) not only now has a superhero suit too but is working on sending signals into the quantum realm. An attempt to shut it all down gets Scott, Cassie, Hope (Evangeline Lily), Hank (Michael Douglas) and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) sucked into the realm where Janet is forced to tell them the truth about why she fears it so much. A powerful, timeline destroying being knows as Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) has been imprisoned there and Pym technology is the key to his escape.
Peyton Reed returns again to direct and seems to be in over his head with Jeff Loveness’ messy and fantasy heavy script. It’s a visual and design heavy installment that plods along for the first two-thirds before finally picking up steam for an action/battle heavy last act. Reed seems out of his element with all the fantasy worlds and bizarre characters which are constantly thrown at the audience, till Kang is introduced and the film settles down somewhat. Kang is a strong villain, and the film only starts to gain some intensity when he arrives onscreen. The movie and director seem a bit lost till then and a lot of it doesn’t seem to serve a purpose. Even an extended cameo by Bill Murray seems like a waste of the actor’s presence, talent and time. Anyone could have played the part, which also seemed to accomplish little, as does the inclusion of Kang’s “hunter” M.O.D.O.K. who turns into a bit of a joke. In fact, it is a very character heavy flick and at barely over two hours, not many characters get enough time to be fully developed, like woman warrior Jentorra (Katy O’Brian), unless established in a previous film. The FX and quantum world design is spectacular, but lack a sense of wonder, while the story is week, and it takes a while till we feel like the film is actually accomplishing something. It also lacks the feel of the previous two Ant-Man flicks and barely feels like part of the MCU, for that matter.
The cast is good. Rudd is still charming and fun as Lang/Ant-Man, but one gets a hint he is tiring of the role. His enthusiasm is not quite the same in his fifth appearance. Evangeline Lilly isn’t given all that much to do as Hope/Wasp despite sharing title billing. She and Rudd still have nice chemistry but aren’t together all that much. Douglas is still charming as the grumpy Hank Pym with Pfeiffer having a lot more to do here than in the last flick as Janet. She makes a good action heroine. Jonathan Majors steals the film as Kang, a very good villain and one wonders if an Ant-Man film was really the proper way to introduce the multiverse destroying bad guy. Newton is fine as superhero in the making Cassie and Bill Murray makes the best of his weakly written and brief role. Katy O’Brian is also solid as freedom fighter Jentorra while the actor portraying Kang henchman M.O.D.O.K. will stay a surprise here.
In conclusion, there was a lot of potential here with a good cast and very strong villain, but once again a weak Ant-Man series screenplay keeps this more in the realm of mediocre than Quantum. Reed seems a bit lost with such a sci-fi/fantasy heavy script and the film seems to meander about till Kang shows up around halfway through—at least it felt that long—and the story started to take shape. The climax is spectacular, but it never really feels like part of the Ant-Man series nor the MCU we know. Stay through the credits for two additional sequences.
Rated 2 and 1/2 ants.