For starters, it’s not technically an Ant-Man movie if it doesn’t include a storyline from Luis, Michael Peña’s character. And Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Unfortunately not. But of all the film’s sins, that glaring omission is the least of our concerns.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMMANIA ★★ (2/4 stars)
The 31st movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, setting up Phase 5 and acting as a sequel to 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, is quite entertaining. The villain, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), is captivating and largely believable, even if the viewer remains unsure of his motivation. Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) is a fun teaser of what Young Avengers could become. Paul Rudd does his best Paul Rudd despite being hampered by an overly serious storyline. But Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is ultimately one of Marvel’s most boring and unnecessary films to date.
The plot, if you can follow it, hardly matters. Suffice it to say that Scott Lang (Rudd), Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), Cassie, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) accidentally become trapped in the Quantum Realm. Janet, who spent 30 years there, has concealed the scope of the Empire, which appears to be a mishmash of Star Wars and Dune. While trapped, she prevented Kang from escaping, sparking a protracted conflict between the villain and the realm’s colorful, alien inhabitants. Kang needs Pym particles to facilitate his escape – and to continue conquering worlds and timelines across the multiverse – and Scott’s arrival proves to be the key he’s been waiting for.
The result is a jumbled collection of action and battle scenes that look dark and confused, despite the incredible CGI and visual effects efforts of hundreds of people. The characters living in the Quantum Realm are imaginative and visually impressive, but they are in sequences that are difficult to follow. We meet some interesting new inclusions, like Katy O’Brian’s ferocious Jentorra and Bill Murray’s Krylar, but there’s no explanation for who lives in the Quantum Realm and what their history is there. There is also no explanation of the multiverse and Kang’s role in his raids. If you looked Lokimaybe you have an idea of where this is going, but is there just too much Marvel lore to keep track of at the moment?
Instead of giving Ant man his own story, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania uses the hero as fodder to set up this next phase of the MCU (it continues with the third Guardians of the Universe movie in May). The previous two Ant-Man movies were lively and fun, with plenty of gags. There are some jokes here, but most of them don’t get across (or at my press presentation). Credit to the actors for giving their best in the face of what must have been many, many green screens, but Ant-Man and Rudd deserved a good showcase for the character. Somewhere in the midst of all the CGI and plot chaos, there are some sweet moments between Scott and Cassie. That’s the movie this should have been.
Fans of the MCU – of which I am one – have been devoted to its endless storylines and superheroes for over a decade. We’ve watched hundreds of hours of movies and TV shows and speculated about post-credits scenes. But it’s starting to feel like a sensory overload. Made what Iron Man And Captain America so great was that they were about unique, immersive protagonists in high-stakes situations that felt like augmented reality. Now we need to understand the multiverse, the Quantum Realm, raids and keep track of dozens of characters and how they relate to each other. There will be two more films and possibly five TV series in 2023 alone. It is much. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a fun two-hour diversion, though not essential viewing. If they’d brought in Luis, I might think differently.
Observer Reviews are regular reviews of new and notable movies.