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Review: Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania

Kicking off Phase 5 of the MCU, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is a mostly fun, visually inventive adventure that sets up the future threat to the Marvel Universe, Kang (Jonathan Majors).

Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) life is going pretty great.  He’s recognized and thanked by everyone on the street, his relationship with Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) is fantastic and he’s written a memoir of his adventures as an Avenger.  The one part of his life that may need a bit of improvement is his relationship with his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), whose childhood Scott missed out on most of when he got stuck in the Quantum Realm during The Snap.  Cassie has been getting in trouble with the police and also working secretly with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) on her own Pym tech, which Scott thinks she’s not ready to use.  Cassie has developed a sort of satellite to map the Quantum Realm but it sends a signal down that is intercepted and a portal opens that sucks Hank, Scott, Cassie, Hope, and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) into the Quantum Realm and they get separated.  While Hope, Hank, and Janet try to meet some of Janet’s old contacts, Cassie and Scott get captured by rebels looking to free themselves of the realm’s ruler, Kang the Conqueror.

Quantumania is visually spectacular and full of creative and interesting visuals and locales, like Kang’s fortress city or a bar/cantina that feels straight out of Star Wars.  There is a seemingly never-ending parade of strange and bizarre residents of the realm and varied and colorful locales, like Kang’s fortress city or a bar straight out of Star Wars.  The residents of the Quantum Realm are fun and add some fun dynamics to the core Ant-Man group, especially Katy O’Brien as the rebel’s leader Jentorra, David Dastmalchian as the sentient goo monster Veb and William Jackson Harper as the telepathic and constantly disgusted Quaz. Jonathan Majors is the main attraction though and he delivers a new Kang that is completely different from the version of the character he played in Loki and oozes menace beneath a mostly calm exterior.  He’s able to barely exert his power and be terrifying and when he fully unleashes his abilities, you can see why he’s the Conqueror. There are some unexpected plot developments that might disappoint some while exciting others and it will be interesting to see how things proceed in future movies in this phase.  The other major villain is the MCU debut of MODOK, who turns out to be a horrifically transformed Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) aka Yellowjacket. Quantumania does the thing a lot of previous MCU movies have done and makes what has been a fairly intimidating villain in the comics into a joke and it’s not helped by the truly bizarre way they stretch Corey Stoll’s face across his new gigantic body.  It feels like kind of a waste of a character that lots of fans have been anticipating seeing in live-action.  As far as the main Ant-Man family, Paul Rudd is still arguably the most charming human alive and most of his jokes and performance are as great and fun as always. Kathryn Newton is fine but doesn’t pop for me as much as other “New Avengers” like Iman Vellani, Hailee Steinfeld, or Florence Pugh.  It’s great to have Michelle Pfeiffer back full-time but some of the plot beats force her to be frustratingly obtuse and not reveal what she knows about the Quantum Realm and Kang, even as her family is in mortal danger and could really use that knowledge.

As mentioned, Quantumania is a visual spectacle and it does things that only the Doctor Strange movies have really matched.  There are some standout sequences, like Scott having to enter a “Probability Storm” after being forced to recover something by Kang and he sees multiple “possibilities” of himself that keep multiplying and lead to some excellent visuals and some fun jokes as well.  Some of the action is a little choppy and there are some sequences and locations that are extremely and bafflingly dark, which muddies some of the action as well.  There’s also not as much of the fun growing/shrinking of random objects as in the previous movies, although the main McGuffin is something affected by enlarging Pym Particles.  Scott does shrink and grow and the movie still makes great use of both sides of his powers and Janet, Hope, Hank and even Cassie get a chance to shine at certain points with their particular skill sets.

Compared to some of the recent MCU movies like Thor: Love and Thunder and Wakanda Forever, Quantumania was, for me, an improvement.  It was nowhere near as cringy goofy as Love and Thunder and, while still featuring setups for future Marvel movies and TV shows, it felt more organic here than in Wakanda Forever.  Paul Rudd is still excellent and the rest of the cast is fun with Jonathan Majors making a big impression in his first MCU movie appearance and I can’t wait to see more of him as we move forward in Phase 5.

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