REVIEW — “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”
While Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is light on story, the first entry in Phase 5 of the MCU is still a giant movie with wild visuals and a Majorly threatening villain.
The film picks up a few years after we last saw Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) during the events of Avengers: Endgame. He has since written an auto-biography, “Look Out For The Little Guy,” about his adventures saving the world while balancing life as a hero/father. The satirical, in-movie memoir is actually available to purchase online.
Scott is trying to make up for lost time with his lost loves. His relationship with Wasp/Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) has endured their five year separation; however, his non-blipped (now) teenage daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) is less than impressed with his heroics and gives her recently reunited dad serious “What Have You Done For Me Lately” vibes.
She is also a chip off the old Lang block with her own tinkering and thievery skills landing her in jail just like her old man. With reformed burglar Scott now a world-famous Avenger, this type of behavior from his daughter causes a disconnect that is only exacerbated by the encouragement of Hope’s parents Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer).
After an exploratory transmitter device designed by Cassie gets hijacked by a mysterious force, the Langs, Pyms, and Van Dynes are sucked back into the Quantum Realm — a place that exists outside of time and space. Since escaping her 30 year imprisonment in the QR, Janet Van Dyne has neglected to tell her family of a growing threat that has taken over the Quantum Realm and its devious plans for multiversal domination. Lost, split up, and hunted down by M.O.D.O.K. (the disturbing face of Corey Stoll), the family must fight to survive this strange, microscopic world in order to protect the rest of the universe from the formidable Kang.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’s main focus is on setting up the MCU’s primary Phase 5 antagonist: Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). In that aspect, the film succeeds. Majors’ Kang is a powerful force that is both intimidating and menacing. He is by far the MCU’s most fearsome baddie yet.
Returning to close his Ant-Man trilogy, director Peyton Reed really gets to explore the bizarre visuals of the Quantum Realm. The result is a very colorful and lush, Star-Warsy atmosphere inhabited by a collection of Mos Eisley Cantina creatures who encourage Scott and Cassie to count their holes and “drink the ooze.”
Unfortunately, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is very light on plot and needs 100% more Michael Peña. His Luis character is sorely missed and could have provided so many laughs in an otherwise serious entry in this usually upbeat corner of the MCU. Heck, I’d even take a few lines from Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) instead of the non-verbal montage cameo he’s given. Instead we get Bill Murray in a brief role as one of Janet’s old flames.
However, as Scott is fond to say, “There is always room to grow.” With Lang’s foreboding final inner monologue and the post credit teasers that follow the film, it is clear that the MCU (and Kang’s revenge) is just getting started.
Side note: Not until seeing the film on the big screen did I realize the name “Ant Man” is hidden within the word Quantumania. Clever.
Rated PG-13 with a running time of 2 hours, 5 minutes, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opens in theaters on Friday, February 17, 2023.