Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania - Review (No Spoilers)


Who in their right mind would’ve thought the world would be getting not just one film centered on the shrinking hero Ant-Man, but a whole trilogy? It certainly speaks to the absolute box office domination of Marvel Studios over the last decade and a half. But whereas the first two entries in this sub-series of the MCU were fairly small scale (no pun intended), the third entry ups the ante, bringing the new big bad to the world and setting the stage for the next phase of the overarching story.

In the end, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a successful start to Phase Five for Marvel, albeit one that falters a bit as an individual story. Much like some of the past MCU entries that became known for being just a part of the puzzle, this film will likely see its appreciation grow over time, but for now, its just a solid entry, destined to be debated in internet discourse until the next one comes and, most likely, makes everyone forget about the stumbles.

Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) find themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that pushes them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.

By now, the principal cast of the Ant-Man franchise have their roles down. Paul Rudd is as charming as ever, and still just as funny in spite of the heavier stakes, even if his character doesn’t get much of an arc here. Evangeline Lilly does a solid job with the material she has, often maintaining the capable and better at this persona that she had in the last outing. 

There are two cast additions, of varying quality. First, there’s the recasting of Cassie Lang, Scott’s daughter. All grown up now and played by Kathryn Newton, Cassie is a budding hero all her own. But while the potential is there, her inclusion here could’ve certainly added more to the story and themes than it did in the final film. However, on the other side, is the remarkable choice of Jonathan Majors as Kang. Those who watched the Disney+ series Loki got a taste of Majors in this role then, but here he gets to fully delve into the menace and terror that is this formidable conqueror. As the next Marvel big bad, Jonathan Majors is more than ready for the challenge, in fact, he might just step up Marvel’s villain game entirely.

The abilities of the titular characters have always made the action visually interesting, with its use of everyday objects as either moments of danger or humor to elevate the fights to something unique. There are no everyday objects here, opting for a venture into the Quantum Realm instead. Comparisons have been made to Disney’s other major franchise (Star Wars) in the way that this world feels alien in all the best ways. The creature designs and general feel of the Quantum Realm is pure comic-booky weirdness dialed to eleven, and its fantastic. The use of shrinking and growing amidst the everyday streets of San Francisco may be slightly missed, but the wackiness of the new setting is enough to make up for it.

Where Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania slips the most is in its story. Sure, the characters are just as enjoyable as before and the conflict is there to push it all forward, but there are no character arcs at all. It very much feels like an extended way to introduce more concepts that’ll come up later. If you know that going in, then you’re likely going to still have a blast watching the craziness 

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