PG Score: 6.5/10
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania was released in theaters on 2/17/23
Director Peyton Reed (Yes Man and Bring It On) is back in the saddle for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Thanks to a thin storyline and shallow dialogue, Marvel’s latest big screen offering is devoid of the lasting impact fans had grown accustomed to in films from early phases. Fortunately, it is the most visually ambitious entry in the trilogy and brings a nemesis for the ages into the fold.
The third adventure of everyone’s favorite bite-sized Avenger finds Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) braving the depths of the Quantum Realm. He is joined by Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), her parents, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Scott’s daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton). In exploring their surreal surroundings, they unwittingly begin a journey of multiversal magnitude.
Kang, In All His Glory
As far as superheroes go, Ant-Man is not exactly at the top of the list of household names. So, it may seem odd that he initiates the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s meticulously constructed Phase 5. That is, until you factor in that the main draw is a different character altogether. Enter Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).
The MCU’s new big bad was first introduced in the Disney+ series, Loki but his appearance was a mere appetizer for what is to come. In Quantumania, viewers are given a more comprehensive picture of the intriguing villain, and there is much to unpack. Majors portrays the enigmatic foe with a captivating combination of gravitas and certainty. Kang is a tortured soul who is wholly committed to his mission, and Majors captures every strand of his essence. For those familiar with the Lovecraft Country actor’s body of work, this will come as no surprise.
Bill Pope's Visuals
Majors’ performance is strengthened by an absorbing backdrop filled with otherworldly fauna and eye-popping splendor. After his stellar work on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Director of Photography Bill Pope returns to the MCU to knock it out of the park once again. Known for his expertise on projects such as The Matrix trilogy and Baby Driver, Pope is a force to be reckoned with behind the lens. The stunning cinematography is not only a pretty background to passively bask in either. The thrilling canvas elevates multiple, otherwise mediocre, action sequences.
The fights themselves are rather basic, choreographically speaking. The large-scale battles are aesthetically pleasing, but they feel somewhat empty. Jaw-dropping brawls and electrifying finishers, which are omnipresent in earlier phases of the MCU, are nowhere to be found. Substance takes a backseat to style, and the action is worse off as a result. Quantumania is a “stark” (apologies in advance) reminder that a memorable set piece requires more than a shiny coat of paint.
Lack Of Depth
The narrative also suffers from Reed’s “all flash, no mass” approach. Events move rapidly, and important moments are missing proper attention. Rudd’s Scott Lang, along with his friends and family, undergoes very little character development over the course of the two-hour runtime. Conversations lack deeper meaning, and fans who have grown attached to these characters over the past eight years will be disappointed by the absence of any emotional value in Jeff Loveness’ screenplay. There is frankly too much at stake to justify the rushed method of storytelling. Marvel has traditionally treated its stories with great care and respect. One needs to look no further than the 30 movies that have been building up to this point. It is frustrating to see such a cavalier indifference to the road that paved the way.
A Serviceable Table-Setter
Despite containing several high-quality installments, Phase 4 of the MCU pales in comparison to its predecessors. Still, there is ample evidence to support the idea that Kevin Feige and company can rekindle the magic found in masterpieces like Avengers: Infinity War and Captain America: The Winter Soldier in Phase 5. While Peyton Reed is unable to crack the code, he does roll out the welcome mat for an exciting heavyweight with plenty of promise in Kang. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania provides enough spectacle to head to the theater to root for the little guy.