Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania | Review


It’s with a weary competency that the latest entry in Marvel’s difficult second era fuels one more trudge through the studio’s now gluttonous cinematic universe. Apologies: multiverse. This is Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. An exposition dump of a film as visually ugly as it is a waste of its A-list talents, who do, at least, bring fine and dandy performances. In further balance, theree is some very funny material to be found within the drudge. After all, Ant-Man always meant breezier fare than the likes of Doctor Strange and the Cap’ in the pre-Endgame days. Those Halcyon days.

To think that a decade has past since Paul Rudd was first cast as Scott ‘Ant-Man’ Lang is enough to send the hair grey. Unless you’re the ageless Rudd himself, of course. What’s changed? Well, Kathryn Newton (Blockers) has now taken on the part of Scott’s now adolescent daughter Cassie, played in childhood by Abby Ryder Fortson and Emma Fuhrmann. Evangelina Lily’s Hope Van Dyke – the titular Wasp – has had a hair cut and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Janet is now a fully fledged part of the furniture in the Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) household. That Janet missed the first Ant-Man – owing to a spell in the so-called ‘Quantum’ realm – finds relevance here. Only she knows what to expect when Cassie’s (logistically pointless) Quantum communicator device inadvertently sucks the quintet into the realm itself.

The adventure that follows is less Jules Verne meets Ant-Man than Journey to the Centre of the Earth meets Star Wars. Certainly, the style and story of the film – which could very well have been gifted to any one of the Avengers – borrows unabashedly from each. While the organically globular scenery and inventive delirium owe debts to the former, the inhabitants of Quantumania’s sub-versal sphere – some admirably physical and present – could easily have walked straight from A New Hope’s cantina.

There are highlights. David Dastmalchian voices a delightful blob and steals the film’s best gag from Rudd, whose response is the epitome of comic timing. The neat realisation of living buildings – sort of concrete cacti – is impressive too. A pity, then, that so little else hits a mark. Katy O’Brian plays an almost obscenely forgettable freedom fighter, while the return of first film baddie Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) as a tottering giant head is just plain obscene. I’m told M.O.D.O.K. works in the comics. Not on screen.

That said screen is so thoroughly drenched in the dreariest of lifeless CGI does the film no favours. What wonders lighter toning and more brilliant hues might have done its story. Not that even this has so much going for it. As penned by Rick and Morty contributor Jeff Loveness, Quantumania recalls Disney’s recent animated odyssey Strange World and drags with a similarly meandering pace. At least that film enjoyed self-contained meaning. The most glaring sin of Quantumania is the pervasive feeling that it’s existence is entirely in service of all that will follow in the post-Thanos grand plan. An exhausting amount of the film’s dialogue serves only to explain all that is going on now and all that will be important next. What’s worse, no ground here is lain that had not already been well laid in Disney+ hit Loki.

To his credit, Jonathan Majors – returning from the Tom Hiddleston helmed series – does at least bring a remarkable dose of charisma to one more iteration of Kang the Conquerer. It’s a layered show of talent and hotly promising for future reprisals. Pleasingly subtle, too, in counterbalance to Rudd’s broader strokes. Even as Kang blasts his opponents with generic blue lightening, there’s a sigh of disappointment in Majors eyes, each time condemning the sequence of events that has led to such violent efforts. It’s magnetic work in a wider whole that’s anything but.

If little else in Marvel’s recent output suggests a bright future for the franchise, how ironic it would be that hope should emerge in the form of a new big bad hell bent on destroying all within it. Based on material like this, it may be hard not to wish him all the best with the task.



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