Review | Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
“Although the performances are good and the film amusing at times, Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania is a good but not great start to Marvel phase 5.”
It’s here. The 31st film in the MCU and the start of phase five. It also happens to be the third solo movie for the main character. Marvel Studios has presented us with Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania. Paul Rudd once again straps on the suit in another colorful and enjoyable adventure, joined once more by Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne / Wasp, Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet van Dyne, and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym.
Newcomers in this third chapter include the superb Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang and an outstanding performance by Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror, reprising his role from the first season of Loki. Without a doubt, the film is colorful, and exciting at times, and is 100% an entertaining addition to the MCU. But can the film start the fifth phase off with a bang or with a damp squib?
To be honest, it falls in the middle of both. While the film is entertaining enough for the audience, it sadly isn’t the best Marvel movie of them all. The problem lies in many things. Firstly, the look of the film. Take the Star Wars prequels look (CGI, no real sets), The Matrix, Mad Max, Star Wars itself, Disney’s own Tron movies, and a father-daughter story, mix them together and you’d have Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania. It is a good mix and one that is enjoyable, even though it doesn’t quite gel.
Another letdown is M.O.D.O.K, a character that Marvel fans have got themselves excited about. Sorry to burst your bubble but the way he is used will enrage the fanbase. Not only is he a supporting character in the film, but he is the comic relief. This is certainly not the way we envisaged the character hitting the big screen and making his MCU debut. In fact, he is a major distraction in the film. The way he is handled is almost an insult to his creators. Another is the character of Kang The Conqueror himself. Despite a brilliant performance from Jonathan Majors (More on that later), but as the new big bad of the MCU, Thanos he most certainly isn’t.
The cast gives it their all in the film. Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man is once again wonderfully enjoyable. His sheer presence and his grin give the film the lift it desperately needs. Rudd slips back into the costume and character like a glove, giving us yet another winning performance. He also gives an emotional aspect to Scott at times, showing his love for his daughter and doing what it takes to keep her safe. Rudd shines through, even making the gloriously colorful backgrounds he’s working against dim in comparison.
Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne/Wasp has a fair bit to do in the movie but feels as if she is left in the background a bit too much. As a supporting character, she appears, does a few things, vanishes, reappears, and vanishes again before entering the finale. And we feel a bit cheated at times. We have come to love seeing the character play off of Scott. And for the most part, that is sadly missing. Her introduction at the beginning of the film is a great look into Scott and her relationship. And brings a few laughs to be sure. But once the pair are split up, this relationship is reduced to a few scenes before the climax hits us.
MICHAEL DOUGLAS AND MICHELLE PFEIFFER
Michael Douglas as Hank Pym once again gives a restrained but enjoyable performance. Douglas has that mischievous glint in his eye from the start. And we are reminded that he is a great actor. His relationship with his wife, Janet is examined slightly regarding her exploits during her thirty-year absence inside the Quantum Realm, leading to a few genuine laughs along the way. Douglas and Pfieffer play off each other to a wonderful effect and provide a welcome and often funny distraction to the mayhem that is happening all around them.
Michelle Pfieffer has a more rounded part to play here. And it is her character that the main focus of the story is built around. We get to discover more of what Janet was up to in the Quantum Realm during her absence. And it is the crux of what the movie is concerned with. Janet has secrets she really doesn’t want to impart to her family. But is forced to come face-to-face with her past, and face up to the reality of what she has started in the Quantum Realm. Michelle Pfieffer is a tremendous actress and is given the real meat of the film. And she chews on it to great effect.
THE NEW MVPS OF THE MCU
However, nothing or nobody can touch the brand-new MVPs of the MCU. For starters, we have the outstanding Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang. We have seen the character before, as a young girl and as an older teen. Here, we have a Cassie that is making her own way in the world, much to Scott’s displeasure. He is watching his little girl grow up to become a strong-willed woman, one who is brightly intelligent with a strong belief in what she is doing.
The trailers haven’t given away Cassie’s role in the film (nor shall I here), but when it comes, Kathryn Newton shines brightest of all the cast. Her acting style will endear her to the audience from the start, making her one character we are desperate to see again in the MCU going forward. The sheer emotion Kathryn Newton puts into her role is outstanding.
The other MVP of the movie comes in the form of Jonathan Majors as Kang The Conquerer. Fans will remember the character making his debut during the final episodes of the first season of Loki. Here though, the character is unleashed full bore. And Majors makes the character his own. He instills Kang with real hidden menace, showing him to be a force to be reckoned with. And he hardly has to raise his voice to do it.
We believe him when he utters a threat, we believe he has bad intentions for anyone he decides needs to die. And he makes us believe his mission he decides he must fulfill. All this is done by the terrific acting ability of Jonathan Majors. Forget the character we’ve met previously, this is Kang at his most evil. And Majors makes his MCU movie debut to great effect.
THE LOOK OF THE FILM
The look of the film, while gloriously colorful, and amazing in its depth, actually becomes a distraction. George Lucas did this before in the three Star Wars prequels, and at no time do we feel what we are seeing is real. That’s not to say it isn’t impressive. It most certainly is. But we get a strange feeling that we have seen it all before. And that is a shame.
The colors are stunning in their clarity. And the look of the buildings and places we see is amazing. But at one point, I felt I had seen one shot in the 1980 version of Flash Gordon. It’s different but looks very similar to that film. The ideas are there and are executed well. But it’s a case of Deja Vu at times.
THE DIRECTION AND THE MUSIC
Peyton Reed once again returns to direct the threequel. And he does a great job as always. He knows the world that he is playing in off by heart and delivers another exciting Marvel movie. He directs the stars with ease and has wrenched out outstanding performances from Kathryn Newton and Jonathan Majors. And he allows the other actors to run with their roles as they see fit. And they don’t let him down.
Christophe Beck returns to score the film. And here is another problem. Beck’s music is great as always, that is a given. But what the fans expect to hear in the film is hardly presented to us at all. The Ant-Man theme.
While we do get some snippets of it during proceedings, and again during the end credits, at no time do we get a magnificent blast of the theme we are used to. And that is a shame because, during the climax of the film, one blast of the theme would raise the film that much higher. As it is, we are found wanting.
Although the performances are good, the film entertaining, and amusing at times, it is sadly muddled, leading to a good but not great start to Marvel phase 5. And that is a pity. There is much to like and admire here. The problem lies in the story. For something that promised so much, and could have become one of the best Marvel films of them all, it feels like filler material. A stop-gap to a main event at least two years in the coming. Whereas the first phases of the MCU had us gripped to our seats, dying to see and know what happens next, here we see the film, and enjoy it, but it fades from memory not long after the credits have finished rolling.
Of course, we get the traditional stingers during the end credits. The first is interesting and gives us a hint at where the plot threads will eventually lead to. But the second is enough to gain the biggest cheer of the whole film. At the screening I attended, this second stinger got a round of applause and had the audience cheering the theater down. But again, here lies a problem. Although the stingers are supposed to have the audience leaving happy, it is the main film itself that deserves applause and cheers. It is the fact that the main film doesn’t gain this that is troubling. But despite all its faults, Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania still has enough to send the audience home with a smile on their faces.
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania opens on Friday, February 17th from Marvel Studios.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!