Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania Want to psyche you up about the launch of “Phase Five” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a corporate entity that’s now 15 years old and starting to wind down. Phase Five will naturally be a multimedia delivery system, bringing the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie, a pair of sequels (Captain Marvel, Captain America), and a bunch of Disney+ TV content. Let the endless cross-promotion begin. But not now.
The first two ant people The films got much of their charm from Paul Rudd, whose diminutive, nice-guy warmth as Scott Lang/Ant-Man was a welcome downshift from Marvel’s usual action-fantasy megalomania. Unfortunately, Rudd is swamped by this third film, which is a boiling neon tsunami of giant blob creatures, walking broccoli stalks, giant chrome spiders, avatar-style hanging sky islands, and more, with quite a few either on fire or in the process of exploding at any moment.
The story, such as it is, begins in Scott’s native San Francisco, where we find his daughter, aspiring anti-teen Cassie Lang (Katherine Newton), embarking on a personal project to remotely map the mysterious Quantum Realm (QR). A subatomic dimension that exists “outside time and space,” as they say. The QR is “a secret universe,” according to Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), the original Wasp, who was imprisoned there for 30 years. Janet, the wife of Scott’s mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who was the original Ant-Man, is horrified to learn that Casey has made a connection with the kingdom, since any such link could easily become a bridge—and the thick one sure is. [cue calamity].
Unfortunately most movies run on QR. The overstuffed retro artiness with which this world is rendered suggests a trove of classic sci-fi magazine covers that have been dicy-scissored and then run through a computer. It eventually grows tiresome. Janet and Hank are here with their daughter, Hope (Evangeline Lilly), the current Wasp and still Scott’s love interest. Anyone will know who felt their brain sliding sideways during last year’s viewing Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, the setting of anything like QR is a frustrating environment in which to try to tell a story. Account for having multiple versions of the characters pinballed around, and there’s also a crazily multiplying “probability storm” to create new kinds of confusion (in a fun scene where Scott faces off against his many).
The movie barely has a story to tell (credit to what it has Rick and Morty veteran Jeff Loveness), but returning director Peyton Reed can’t stop it from expanding. The characters try to escape around the Quantum Realm and a smooth talking brute named Kang the Conqueror tries to stop them. Kang, who is played by Jonathan Majors, is The last black man in San Francisco, a worthy successor to the Big Badness once bestowed by the now departed Thanos. Kang’s problem is – well, her the enemies The problem is – he foresees the end of everything. He knows how every conflict will turn out, and one can imagine that this allows him to plan wonders accordingly. He collects time, or something, and can shell out extra of it as a party favor. Majors brings a dark energy to this seductive character, and whenever she says “I don’t live in a straight line.”
But what’s most interesting about this oddly unwanted picture is a quick scene over the end credits where we get a dark, brooding look at things to come. It might last a minute or two, but it destroys the atmosphere. Too bad that when everyone got together to make this film, they didn’t just go ahead and make it.
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