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Movie Review - Marvel's Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Witness the beginning of a new dynasty.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a 2023 science fiction superhero adventure film directed by Peyton Reed, written by Jeff Loveness, produced by Marvel Studios, and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The film is based off of various Ant-Man comics by Marvel Comics. It stars Paul Rudd and Jonathan Majors. This is the forty-first entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being the thirty-first film. It acts as the seventeenth entry in the Multiverse Saga, being the first of Phase Five. It's also the third film in the Ant-Man franchise. It was preceded by Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Endgame, Loki, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. It will be followed by season two of Loki, Secret Invasion, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.


"You're out of your league, Ant-Man." - Kang the Conqueror

Plot


When an experiment goes wrong, Scott Lang, Hope van Dyne, and their families are sucked into the Quantum Realm where they meet strange creatures and interact with new environments. As they continue to explore, they eventually come face-to-face with the evil Kang the Conqueror.


The Sweet


I think this movie is better than most of the reviews are giving it credit for.


My expectations for Quantumania quickly dropped when early buzz surrounding the film was very mixed. The film is on track to have the worst Rotten Tomatoes score of any MCU movie, and I don't think it's deserving of that at all. Sure, it's not great, but if you go in with the proper expectations, I think you can have fun with this.


The one thing that this film nails is the most important thing. Kang is, by far, the best part of the movie. Jonathan Majors plays an incredibly different villain than he did in Loki. He makes this version of the character feel much more aggressive and menacing, but he does it subtly. He has this calm demeanor that can be terrifying because there are moments where he just explodes. The movie spends about the first third building up to his eventual entrance, so you feel his presence even before he's on screen. They don't give you his backstory directly, but they hint at things that can give you enough context and make you more interested for what the future of this character holds. If you're going to try and match Thanos in terms of great big bads for the MCU, Kang is a great way to do it.


The movie also feels very much like a big, sci-fi adventure. A lot of people have compared it to Star Wars, and that is true. It has elements of the cantina scene while also having the epic feel of the Empire-Rebellion storyline. It's also just weird and wacky with all of these alien creatures and strange concepts. The highlight of these creative new things is a scene involving a probability storm. I can't say much else about that, but it was very cool.


I also think that the movie didn't lose the comedy that the other two Ant-Man movies had. This film still has tons of laugh-out-loud moments. Paul Rudd is still a comedic actor. Despite it's epic nature and Kang being the villain, this movie still feels like a lighter MCU comedy like the other Ant-Man films. It's grander and higher-stakes, but it still feels like it maintains the core of the Ant-Man franchise by being really funny.


This film also quickly resolves a bunch of my issues with Phase Four. Phase Four was directionless. There wasn't anything that felt like it connected. Besides Loki, none of the projects felt like they were actually building to something. As the beginning of Phase Five, Quantumania needed to change that. And it did. There is now a threat. There is now a clear direction for the Multiverse Saga. It feels like this movie builds towards the grander narrative of the MCU, which I very much appreciate.


I also loved the last five minutes of this movie. It has the goofiness of the Ant-Man movies while also having this feeling of impending doom. It's really funny while also being incredibly, incredibly ominous. Everything seems fine. Nothing bad actually happens. But the way that certain things play out, you know something is wrong. It was a great way to close out this movie and make you feel the imminent threat that Kang poses.


Also, there are two post-credits scenes. Both are important and great. I will probably have an after-credits explained post sometime this weekend.


The Sour


I think this movie will work better in the grander narrative of the MCU than as an actual movie.


My dad said this right after we walked out of the theater, and I completely agree. He said that this film feels like it only exists to set up Kang. And I think that's true. As the third film in the Ant-Man franchise, it makes no sense. Those movies have always been palate-cleansers that are small stakes. They are light-hearted and fun while having little impact on the grander MCU. And that's obviously not what Quantumania is. They don't try to make it feel like an Ant-Man movie. It feels like it's just here to set up Kang, which works for the grander MCU, but doesn't work when you look at this as an individual story. The main characters aren't even given much to do. Wasp feels like an afterthought in this film. And her name is in the title of the movie. That just shows how much it's focused on setting up Kang and how much it isn't focused on being a good Ant-Man movie.


One reason that it doesn't feel as much like an Ant-Man movie is the lack of great supporting characters. Both Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp have a hilarious supporting cast. The standout in both of those films is Michael Peña's Luis, who is not in Quantumania. His presence is severely missed. Randall Park's Jimmy Woo makes a quick cameo, but he isn't really in it either. These fun, comedic side characters are replaced by these weird Quantum Realm people that are either way too serious or way too goofy. They aren't really memorable or entertaining like Luis or Jimmy, and it just makes the film feel less fun.


I also think there's a little bit too much CG in this movie. The movie is almost exactly two hours long, and I'd say one hour and fifty-two minutes takes place in the Quantum Realm. The Quantum Realm is basically all CGI, and, while it looks good most of the time, it just feels like too much at one point. It feels like every single shot in this film has a green screen. In a way, it felt like the Star Wars prequels with the amount of computer-generated imagery. Once again, most of the CGI isn't necessarily bad, but there's just too much of it.


I am also very frustrated with the usage of Janet van Dyne in this movie. She spent thirty years in the Quantum Realm. She allowed Ant-Man to go into the Quantum Realm in Ant-Man and the Wasp. All the while knowing what she knows in this movie. For plot convenience, she is suddenly terrified of the Quantum Realm and doesn't want to tell her family about what's down there. It feels like a complete character shift, and that's just lazy writing. Even in this movie, she withholds information at crucial times and they never really give a reason why she isn't spilling the beans. It's extremely, extremely frustrating.


The tone is also a disaster. The ultimate example of the tonal issues is with Kang and M.O.D.O.K.. Kang is a genocidal maniac. They go out of their way to make him incredibly menacing, violent, and evil. And who's his sidekick? A giant floating head that is played entirely for laughs. That's why it's so weird to have Kang's introduction be an Ant-Man movie. The film is mostly just to introduce the MCU's new big bad, who should be taken seriously, but the Ant-Man movies aren't serious. That's why this doesn't work as well as it should.


Final Thoughts and Score


Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a fun movie that points to a brighter future for Phases Five and Six, but as an individual story, it can be a pretty big mess.


I will still go Savory here. Age range is 8+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)


"Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania"


Fun Factor: 7.5/10

Acting: 8/10

Story: 6.5/10 Characters: 7.5/10

Quality: 6/10


Directed by Peyton Reed


Rated PG-13 for superhero violence and action, language, frightening themes and images, thematic elements


Released on February 17, 2023


2 hours and 5 minutes


Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man

Jonathan Majors as Nathaniel Richards / Kang the Conqueror

Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne / Wasp

Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang / Stature

Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne

Michael Douglas as Hank Pym

Katy O'Brian as Jentorra

Corey Stoll as Darren Cross / M.O.D.O.K.

William Jackson Harper as Quaz

Bill Murray as Lord Krylar

David Dastmalchian as Veb

Randall Park as Jimmy Woo

Gregg Turkington as Dale

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