February 16, 2023

CINEMA | 'Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania' Trips Out

"I will burn them out of time!"
Paul Rudd Kathryn Newton Peyton Reed | Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania | Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios
Ant-Man franchise director Peyton Reed closes out his trilogy in the supersized superhero sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Paul Rudd returns for Marvel Studios' expansive take on the trippy, shrunk-down sci-fi micro-versal adventure.

A totally jacked Jonathan Majors steals the uneven film as it sets him up as the ultimate big boss, Kang the Conqueror, of the MCU's next wave of storytelling dubbed "The Multiverse Saga". Gone is the small-scale sense of action-comedy anchored by Rudd's ex-con Scott Lang trying to reform his life and win over his now adult daughter Cassie—recast with Kathryn Newton as an enthusiastic do-gooder who gets into trouble.

Evangeline Lilly as co-headliner Hope plays second fiddle without much of her own arc but does get to flesh out her relationship with superhero parents played once again by the returning Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer, who takes over large portions as the central figure. She's wondrous and illuminating as the original Wasp as her missing thirty years are filled in with a past as a badass shrunken freedom fighter while Douglas relishes in becoming the comic relief.

Paul Rudd Kathryn Newton Peyton Reed | Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania | Marvel Studios

Scripted by another Rick and Morty veteran Jeff Loveness, many of whom have taken over writing duties for this multiversal phase of the MCU, Quantumania continues Marvel's streak of messily jumbled together action largely preoccupied with setting up future interdimensional battles. It's a little more than dizzying just how much is thrown at our characters in what feels like a single day of quantum war.

We spend very little time in the actual real world where Scott gets to momentarily bask in the glow of saving the world post-Avengers: Endgame and is dropped almost immediately into the Quantum Realm where the massively scaled but undercooked world-shattering events are set off surely to be addressed in future films and televisions series. Majors gives a towering, almost Shakespearean performance as an exiled time-travelling king who in his own greatness. However, his power and greater role feel unclear or confusing within this single entry.

It's a little bit more than dispiriting how much Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania strays from the first two comedy-first films where Reed and Rudd, who also co-wrote those films, got to have so much insubstantial adventure while making fun of his place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ironically, the strange acid trip of a threequel might have been served had it been more familiar and low-level dramatic stakes instead of the rushed sense of weird subatomic rebellion that's more than a little reminiscent of Star Wars.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / ScreenCrush

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