Despite its less-than stellar reviews compared to Marvel’s usual releases, this film is on par with the studio’s poor quality and is a disappointing follow-up to the previous “Ant-Man” features.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” directed by Peyton Reed, begins with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his family enjoying their down time. As Scott enjoys his newfound fame as Ant-Man, his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) becomes unsatisfied. Cassie and Hope– the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly)– reveal that they have created a way to map the mysterious Quantum realm. They are helped by Hope’s father, Hank (Michael Douglas), while Hope’s mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who also spent time trapped in the realm, has concerns about the technology. Her concerns are realized when they all end up stuck in the realm themselves. As they try to escape, they meet fantastical creatures and characters who help and hinder them along the way – particularly the imposing tyrannical “Conqueror,” known as Kang.
The plot of the film is weak and the jokes didn’t often land, but to be fair, an exception was Paul Rudd’s comedic narrations in the beginning and end of the film. A lot of the plot was tied to the television show “Loki,” so anyone who had not viewed it would have been a bit confused.
Much of it was so over-the-top goofy that it was impossible to have an emotional connection to any of it. None of the characters felt properly fleshed out, the Wasp was barely in her own movie and winds up forgettable, and the Quantum world, while promising, never gets a moment to shine. The CGI, as has been the case with most Marvel films as of late, was distractingly bad in many moments and seemed to hinder the performances.
Paul Rudd is known as a charismatic and likable actor, whose personality had carried most of the previous “Ant-Man” films. Unfortunately, whether it is due to poor writing, or Rudd not connecting with his character anymore, whatever charisma he had in the previous films is not enough in this one and doesn’t prevent it from being underwhelming and low effort.
Jonathan Majors, who plays Kang, is overly serious in a film that does not seem to care, and the writing did not give him proper motivations or depth. He is an acceptable villain for a different film– or at least a different mood.
Much of the film is bogged down with green screen use. Kathryn Newton and Michelle Pfeiffer never seem to believe they’re looking at anything, which in turn breaks any remaining immersion the audience may have had. Newton was a recast, which raises some questions, given that her performance was significantly subpar; her reactions fell flat and her emotions never felt genuine.
Michael Douglas brings more energy, and it’s clear that he is having a good time, but doesn’t seem to take anything particularly seriously. His line deliveries border on sketch comedy level rather than film acting.
The film overall had strong “Star Wars” prequel trilogy vibes, but not in any of the positive ways other than creature design. The creature design was the main positive element of the film. A new character called Veb, who resembled a snail encased in pink Jell-O with gangly limbs, and had an amiable disposition was a highlight and one of the few characters that felt well-realized, though he had little screen time.
A sense of scale is very important with the “Ant-Man” movies due to the character’s nature of changing sizes. This film had virtually no sense of scale. Paul Rudd could have been an inch tall or forty feet tall and it would have been difficult to tell. It was often disorienting and difficult to work out what was happening in action sequences, with truly messy and jagged editing that did not help. Many moments throughout the film felt as if they were missing a scene for context.
The film felt rushed; it was as though they were told to make an “Ant-Man” movie in one week, with little to no preparation.
While the film is certainly worse than many from Marvel’s film catalog and the previous “Ant-Man” movies, it is receiving criticisms for things that Marvel has been guilty of for a while now. The fact that films like “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” have far better reviews is somewhat puzzling. It’s true that “Black Panther” had higher highs and proper emotional connection while “Thor” managed to find some enjoyment despite its odd choices. But, they still suffer from an overuse of CGI, messy and unsatisfying plots, and in “Thor’s” case, cringy and forced humor. “Ant-Man” is not alone in its poor quality; this is simply a continuation of Marvel’s inability to take its time and think things through. More often than not, new releases have begun to feel like a waste of time. After the excitement of “Endgame,” though it was a far from perfect film, it felt as though the studio was lost. It could be possible that Stan Lee’s death around that time influenced this, but it’s hard to say definitively if that is the problem. It is unclear if Marvel will be able to return to its former glory.
2.5 / 5 stars