Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (aka Ant-Man 3 / Ant-Man and the Wasp in Quantumania) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Quantumania throws Ant-Man out of his element in more ways than one. Perhaps that’s for the best to keep this underdog of an Avenger fresh and not just fall into the habit of his classic capers. That said, this third entry in his saga feels far more overwhelmed by the world Scott Lang occupies. As such, this film comes off less like Ant-Man 3 and more like Avengers: The Kang Prologue.
The first act does a decent job setting up how Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has adjusted since the events of Endgame. While many heroes have been befallen with tragedy and pathos, Scott’s life seems pretty…great. He still has a great relationship with his love Hope (Evangeline Lilly), he’s on good terms with his predecessor/mentor Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Hank’s doing swell, having been reunited with his wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), previously thought to have been lost to the quantum realm. Scott still has to work on his teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), who is a bit too much like her old man, who was once a criminal mastermind.
Cassie’s obsession with quantum mechanics leads to her getting her entire family flung into the quantum realm. The realm is not as surreal as it was in the previous movies. Instead of feeling like a chaotic world of unbound terror, here it’s presented like an album cover with all sorts of futuristic buildings, strange alien creatures, and starships of organic controls. We get to meet a few characters of this dimension, including a telepath played by William Jackson Harper, a warrior/freedom-fighter played by Katy O'Brian, a slime creature voiced by David Dastmalchian, and a corrupt elite played by Bill Murray. Don’t get too comfy with these characters. There’s so much else going on that you won’t have time to appreciate Murray’s charm or Harper’s straight-man humor.
In addition to Scott trying to connect with Cassie and Janet trying to divulge her dark history in this realm, the major issue at play is the totalitarian rule and villainous intent of Kang the Conqueror, played to perfection by Jonathan Majors. It can’t be overstated how amazing Majors makes lemonade out of lemons. He’s playing a character who adores conquering and has already accomplished this quite a bit in his many lifetimes. It would seem like a lame introduction to the villain if not for the fact that Majors brings some stellar acting to this role. When issuing weary threats, you can see the seriousness in his eyes. When carrying out those threats, he’s a terrifying force who shouts and grits his teeth with vigor. He’s honestly the best reason to watch this film, offering a solid start for the MCU Phase 5.
As for closing out the Ant-Man trilogy, this movie is a bit of a mixed bag. I liked how the Lang and Pym families come together, but after so much rushed explosion and VFX marveling, the story becomes cohesive. Until the third act, most of the film is an exposition dump with little of that Ant-Man flair for sly dialogue. Bits and pieces of that start to come back with the appearance of MODOK, a ridiculous-looking villain with a vendetta against Scott and Hank. It’s the grand showdown of revolutionaries leading a war against Kang as Ant-Man swats at Kang’s army, making the film more of a sci-fi treat.
Not all of Quantumania works, but some glorious moments are strewn about in this messy sci-fi adventure. It perhaps works better for what is promised for the future of the Avengers next villain than at recapturing the glory of Ant-Man breaking into places and swiping stuff. Here, it feels like he’s locked out of his world, struggling to get back to his usual antics and not stuck in the Marvel machine of promoting other movies. Even Rudd has to remind himself by the epilogue of what kind of movie world he occupies, that Ant-Man is more about hope and shouldn’t be about him fearing what lies ahead in The Kang Dynasty.