Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the first movie in Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, promising a grand adventure through the Quantum Realm and an introduction to the next “big bad” of the MCU. Though the previous Ant-Man movies have tackled problems with lowers stakes and a more comedic tone, Quantumania is selling itself on a multiversal threat and a more dramatic tone.
Unfortunately, not a single aspect of this movie works completely well. Sarcastic and sincere tones clash while the move’s scope never feels appropriate. As a trilogy capper, the journeys of our main characters fail to end in a satisfying place. Ultimately, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a disappointment for Marvel and Ant-Man fans alike.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now playing in theaters.
Story – Heist and Seek
After brief visits to the Quantum Realm in the first two Ant-Man movies, Quantumania shrinks the Ant-Man crew for an extended journey in the Quantum Realm. Scott Lang and his grown up daughter Cassie team up for a large part of the move while Hank, Janet, and Hope travel to find them. Meanwhile, the villainous Kang the Conqueror manipulates our heroes in an attempt to escape the Quantum Realm.
Into the Quantum Realm
As already mentioned, we have seen glimpses of the Quantum Realm, but we are seeing it in its fullest breadth here. It looks totally different with a ton of living beings and civilization. Apparently, the civilization had hidden behind some sort of “quantum field”, so now we get a chance to see Ant-Man have an epic, Star Wars-like world and adventure. However, this doesn’t work for Ant-Man.
While the world of Star Wars sweeps many viewers off their feet with the compelling characters and a cohesive world, the Quantum Realm is confusing, unexplained, and brings up so many questions that are left unanswered. We are given shot after shot of strange quantum beings with nothing to tether them to the world. What do they do? Do they have families? Why is that one shaped like broccoli? All these questions and more will go unanswered about the Quantum Realm.
The same goes for physical space. Each location or (admittedly) stunning vista is untethered the rest of the world. While our heroes race to find each other and hide from Kang, we’ve no idea how near they are to each other or how close to danger anyone is. Adding in the rampant and noticeable green screen, you have a sci-fi adventure that does not take the audience away to another world like it wants to.
Characters & Performances – Old Guard and New Guard
Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly return to their titular roles as Ant-Man (Scott Lang) and the Wasp (Hope Van Dyne), while Kathryn Newton plays the older Cassie Lang and Jonathan Majors plays Kang the Conqueror. Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer also return as Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne. Unfortunately, Michael Peña does not return as Luis.
Everyone is good in their roles, but the script ultimately lets them down. Paul Rudd continues to be compelling as he works to save his daughter, but he’s hard to take seriously when angry and fighting King. Kathryn Newton is fine in the role and, and unlike other recent MCU sidekicks like America Chavez or Riri Williams, Cassie gets ample screen time. Still, she is saddled with some of the worst dialogue and unbelievable character moments in this movie. Michael Douglass is a highlight as Hank Pym – a man who simply continues to love ants. He is central to the climax in an incredible and ant-filled way.
The stand-out character and performance here is Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror. Majors brings terror and weight to every scene he’s in. You believe every threat and want to know more about him. His presence on screen is compelling, but his motivations are so obfuscated it is hard to care. It is like Major’s performance begs for a better character.
And while the new characters feel shallow, even the old characters have little to do. For the third movie in a trilogy, Scott and Hope make little progress as characters. Hope is barely in the movie! After separated for 30 years, Hank and Janet do not act like a married couple in this movie. After spending all of Ant-Man and the Wasp (the previous film) looking for her, their sidelined relationship is a disappointment.
Finally, Scott’s thief and security friends Luis, Dave, and Kurt from the last two movies are absent – as well as Cassie’s mom and step-dad. Overall, considering how many staple characters are absent or majorly sidelined, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania feels like a shallow and illegitimate Ant-Man movie.
Cinematography & Sound – Green Screens Galore
As usual in marvel movies these days, you are constantly aware of the visual effects, even if they are good. For every highly detailed set piece, there is going to be a lower-resolution character walking in the background to remind you that nothing is real. Shots outside of the Quantum Realm feel like a different movie not just because of physical location, but because it feels like a real world vs fake world dichotomy. Also, the sound track is not memorable.
Editing & Pacing – Falling Slowly into the Quantum Realm
This movie is frustratingly slow for more than the first half hour. The main reason is that it lays too much pipe – meaning the plot doesn’t begin until quite late. For a long time, we follow the Ant-Man crew meeting different characters somewhat aimlessly while each new character refers to someone dangerous as “him”. Janet, who seems to know everything important, refuses to talk about her Quantum Realm experiences to her family. Before Kang (“him”) finally shows his face, we are slung along with no purpose for the first act. The rest of the movie does a better job. The climax is appropriately exciting as we watch characters lead different battles in the last fight.
For news on Quantumania‘s Rotten Tomatoes score, you can click here. What did you think of the movie?