It's time for another Marvel movie and I think it's Ant-Man's turn. Say hello to the little superhero whose greatest superpower is the incredible charm of Paul Rudd and whose greatest weakness is always underestimated by everyone, even his own directors.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania hits theaters on Friday, February 17. It's a wacky new sci-fi adventure in the vein of Thor: Ragnarok, in which familiar faces from the Marvel roster descend upon an alien realm for fun and war before inspiring the natives to rise up and become dictators. It's more relevant to devoted fans and introduces the Marvel Cinematic Universe's new super-villain, Kang, played by Jonathan Majors.
After rescuing Janet Van Dyne from the Quantum Realm in the previous film, Ant-Man and the Wasp (and you'd be forgiven if you remember next to nothing about that film), the Ant Gang is sent back into a violent, multi-layered universe. The atoms of our great earth are falling. Returning director Peyton Reed cast Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas as his parents Hank and Janet. Kathryn Newton plays the now-teenage Cassie Lang, Scott's daughter, and they join William Jackson Harper, Cathy O'Brien and Bill Murray (yes, that Bill Murray) in Quantum Fields.
It's funny to think that Ant-Man's story began in 2015 with a film that was essentially a showdown heist at a daycare center. In this third film, the action expands to the microscopic but gigantic Quantum Realm, a CG subatomic realm with impossible skies populated by insect-inspired creatures, talking creatures and guys with light bulb heads. Mad Max's weird micro-environment makes for some funny gags, brilliant graphics, and some embarrassing details. It's John Carter of Mars in the form of sci-fi comics like Heavy Metal and Saga (or, if those references tell you nothing, Star Wars).
Cassie's signal to the microscopic quantum realm begins the story as a family of ants are absorbed into this strange realm like another planet on the head of a pin. This is particularly bad news for Janet, who has been stuck in microscopic form for 30 years. Old enemies seek him and his family, forcing him to face what he did in exile.
Cassie (Newton) is the focus of the film, Hank (Douglas) does science and Janet (Pfeiffer) is the main focus of the story, whose worst nightmares intertwine with his own. Meanwhile, Rudd's character, Scott Lang… is also, I think, although he's far from the most interesting character. It takes Scott years to do anything worthwhile, while Roode seems confused but always on the verge of a light joke. Even MODOK, a cartoon character too funny for any other film, has more of an emotional journey than the intended hero.
If Quantumania doesn't quite know what to do with Ant-Man, neither does the other title character. Evangeline Lilly's Hope van Dyne, aka "The Wasp," a scientist who changed the world, is mentioned in voiceovers about Lang's coffee trips and selfie requests. Hope spends the movie giving herself the option to go after her mom or save the day (though she never seems to get the credit for it). I'd be surprised if Lily had over 30 lines in Quantummania (most of which were "Go ahead!" and "Scott, I can't do it!").
Much of the play's focus is on the villain, Kang, another little exile from the quantum world, played by Jonathan Majors. He's easily the best part of the movie, a brooding dictator with a gentle charm who casually mentions how many Avengers he's killed in the multiverse.
As Quantummania marks the beginning of a new chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the start of Episode 5, this means Kahn is the new MCU villain who will be tormenting our heroes for years to come (check out to these post-credits scenes).
Fans are gearing up for Kong, who first appeared in the Disney Plus series Loki, and the movie does a good job of introducing the villain to a younger audience. However, whenever the characters refuse to divulge the information necessary to end the palpable darkness ("There's no time to explain!", "Let's eat first…" and "I'm trying to protect you!"), the cute gets boring.
Quantummania creates the future of the MCU and manages to cover other important themes as well. The film opens with Scott marveling at how much he's grown, at least in terms of fame. But he flaunts his Avenger status and enjoys the benefits without worrying about the real problems. Meanwhile, his daughter Cassie loses her complacency, turning into a political flashpoint. And while only a few lines of dialogue here and there, Quantummania takes the most politically charged approach lurking in a Marvel blockbuster. For example, the film begins with a rather scathing criticism of the incompetent police in the fight against homelessness in San Francisco. The larger and more general theme is the power of a little boy, even in the face of overwhelming power.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania is supported by a likable cast of goofy and hilarious characters who enter a weird and wonderful world to face a villain whose exclusivity could change everything. The story may not be groundbreaking, but the cool graphics and subject matter prove that bigger isn't always better.
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