You have seen it all before: From the jokes, the plot beats, to the reveals, the only difference is that it hasn’t looked quite this ugly before.
WRITTEN BY JACK RANSOM / FEBRUARY 20, 2023
The 31st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the beginning of Phase 5. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania sees Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily), along with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), explore the Quantum Realm, where they interact with strange creatures and embark on an adventure that goes beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.
The day before I saw Quantumania, I was seated for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. A film with boundless creativity, stunning animation and a feeling of necessity to its existence, despite being a spin-off sequel releasing over 10 years after its first outing. This was a thought running through my head as the expository jargon, mish-mash plot, horrendous visuals and mind-numbing humour washed over me throughout my time in the Quantum Realm.
After a fairly witty opening 15 minutes or so, where we catch up with Ant-Man post-Avengers: Endgame fame, we are thrust into the CGI hellscape of the Quantum Realm, where the quest to return home meets the necessity of the franchise’s future set-up’s. Combining to make what feels like a stop gap far more concerned with quickly bringing Kang into the fold than telling a fun Ant-Man story. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this was not the original plan, as aiming for (and straight up copying at times) Star Wars level world-building and visual queues aplenty, just doesn’t fit the grounded, small scale heist tone established by the first two films.
The screenplay is just simply not good enough. Barraging the viewer with constant Quantum nonsense, terrible jokes and the irritating snarky quippage that has riddled this series (a particular brief recurring dialogue exchange between M.O.D.O.K. and Cassie made me want to put my fist through my own face) and you can see Michael Douglas thinking of the paycheque as he continually reaffirms his obsession with ants. What’s frustrating is that Kang starts off as an intriguing enigma before being written into another generic galactic warlord (sorry, Conqueror…who does surprisingly little conquering here).
I’m not exaggerating when I say this is one of the ugliest blockbusters I have ever seen. This cost $200 million dollars and we have just seen features such as Everything Everywhere All at Once present the multiverse in wildly creative fashion between $14-25 million. I was half expecting Jar Jar Binks to pop up in the background of the atrocious looking green screen, however I probably wouldn’t have noticed him through the muddy mish-mash of dark brown, orange and purple’s. The film is filled with a host of interesting creature designs and potential to really explore this corner of the universe, but it’s just all so poorly presented. The action set pieces are generic (one trippy multiple Ant-Men set piece) and the editing for the hand to hand brawls are cut to bits.
Paul Rudd is as reliably solid as expected and he does get some more weightier and intense material to work with here as his time as the character. Kathryn Newton brings a lot of Charisma to Cassie, though her angsty snark does grate and Evangeline Lily really feels like a second note here and just feels like she’s here because she has to be. Jonathan Majors has a magnetic presence and effortless gravitas as Kang, but he really just gets morphed into another typical MCU antagonist. Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer obviously don’t need to prove themselves in their careers anymore. Corey Stoll’s cackling return as M.O.D.O.K. is nightmare fuel and not in the way as intended. Also, it is sorely missing Michael Peña.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is probably the worst MCU flick (in my opinion). I have hope for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 (because of James Gunn) but honestly this franchise just feels so tired now. You have seen it all before: From the jokes, the plot beats, to the reveals, the only difference is that it hasn’t looked quite this ugly before. The potential for Kang to be a great threat is there, Jonathan Majors is inspired casting and there are some uniquely wacky creature designs on display. It’s just a shame I didn’t care about any of it.