By Marc S. Sanders
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania is a fun frolic through the Quantum Realm, another dimension that was uncovered in previous chapters within the Ant-Man series of films. I’m not watching a potential Best Picture nominee for 2023. I’m watching a glorious kaleidoscope of colors and visual effects with likable characters, and the setup of a new big bad villain for upcoming installments for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not a perfect movie. It’s corny and hokey at times, but I was with the picture the whole way.
I do believe these sci fi superhero franchise films are getting way too diluted. I think there are more Marvel films now, all working within a shared universe, then there are episodes of single seasons of television shows. A lot of these films do not stand apart any longer and hinge on events or hanging threads that occur in prior installments. It makes for a lot of homework and time spent on the consumer to keep track of everything, and where everyone was last left off. With Disney + adding in multiple Marvel streaming series to watch as well, I’m sorry but my days feel like they need to be extended beyond the standard 24 hours. The economic term known as “The Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility” hearkens back to me at this point, all these years later after we first met Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in 2008. Are viewers getting tired of the superhero phenomenon? Superhero movies rule the box office these days. Westerns did it four or five generations ago. How many new westerns do you now see each year?
The blessing of Quantumania is that it does not rely abundantly on other material in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) reintroduces himself in a very adoring Paul Rudd-like way with a voiceover and thereafter, he is unexpectedly sucked into the Quantum Realm, along with his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), his current partner Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), aka The Wasp, and his mentors Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne (Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer). The gang must primarily depend on Janet to navigate them through this world of inconsistency and oddball inhabitants where no two characters seem to look alike. Janet was marooned in the Quantum Realm for thirty years before finally being rescued. What concerns her the most is one who is first referred to as “The Conqueror,” and later identified as the frightening superman known as Kang (Jonathan Majors), who was mysteriously exiled to this place. As Janet describes, Kang has made the prison of the Quantum Realm his empire and now he wants to use the technology that our heroes possess to break free of this dimension and cause all kinds of chaos in the real world and other parallel universes.
The best assets to the film are the scenes between Jonathan Majors and Michelle Pfeiffer. Granted, their dialogue could apply to any other kind of movie. A lot of ping pong arguments between the villain and hero, which if I remember correctly go something like “You don’t understand.” and “I’ll never let that happen.” This verbiage could also be suitable in a Meryl Streep tearjerker or a courtroom drama. It’s pretty standard. We’ve seen discussions like this a million times before. Fortunately, my state of mind was not demanding of thought-provoking conversation. The magnetism of their acting in front of the expansive CGI environment kept me hooked. Jonathan Majors simply looks like a very frightening threat. He’s calm at one point and later raging like a lunatic. The man has levels. If he were reciting the ingredients of chocolate chip cookies, I’d be on pins and needles.
I do not think Quantumania is going to wow most audiences. In fact, it’ll be a divisive film. It’ll go half and half. Though I really do not like to rank films any longer because it feels so pointless, I got into a debate with my wife and daughter about which one was better. Quantumania or Wakanda Forever. Both films have their merits, but I left the latest Black Panther film feeling a little depressed and exhausted. That was a long time to feel morose for a superhero film. The ladies, however, appreciated the story of that film over this one. (I wanted to see the Black Panther suit a lot sooner. I wanted a handful of people to be cut from the film, and I thought the Namor character was very boring. Look for my review on this site.)
With Quantumania, audiences are either going to like the weirdness that is splashed all over the screen. Splashed is not a strong enough word. Try SPLATTERED!!!! Everywhere you look there is something abnormal to see from one corner to the next. On the other hand, viewers will think the Quantum Realm and its inhabitants are just too bizarre, and the Marvel filmmakers are scraping the bottom of the barrel in imagination. Sorry, but I got a kick out of the tall stilt guy with a spot light lamp for a head. I thought the pink goo guy was cute. I also giggled at the fat head henchman, with scrawny arms and legs, known as M.O.D.O.K. (with Corey Stall, making an MCU return). The functionality of this character is deliberately lacking and comes off like Looney Tunes cutting room material, but that’s also why he is here. If there was anything looking remotely normal in the Quantum Realm, well then it isn’t the Quantum Realm, I guess. Bill Murray even shows up, but if you need a bathroom break, this is when you should go. All of this looks way too stupid, yes! Then again, stupid can be entertaining and stupid is often taken with subjectivity. So, I’m just one guy’s opinion.
Quantumania is maybe the most unsophisticated of all the Marvel films. More so than the Guardians movies, or the most recent Thor installment. With a happy go lucky Paul Rudd, an army of ants and some of the most bizarre CGI extras found anywhere it proudly stands tall on that pedestal of ultra, ultra, ULTRA weird. I think director Peyton Reed accomplished what he set out to do with this film. The question is will the film win majority of approval within the nerd land of keyboard warriors like myself, who share their perspectives on the internet. Well, the movie gets my vote at least.