Once again, fans from across the world will gather in movie theaters to catch the latest installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the follow-up to 2018's Ant-Man and the Wasp and once again follows the titular Avengers as they find themselves trapped in the Quantum Realm.
Using their wits and powers, and aided by the inhabitants of the Quantum Realm, Ant-Man and the Wasp must stop the nefarious plans of supervillain Kang the Conqueror before he unleashes chaos across the entire multiverse. Returning in this film from previous installments is Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Evangeline Lilly as Hope, Michael Douglas as Hank, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Janet.
Going into this film, I was cautiously optimistic. I loved the lower-stakes, street-level vibe of the original two Ant-Man films. With this film, Director Peyton Reed and Marvel decided to take the franchise in a different direction, showcasing an epic and larger-than-life tale.
"For this third one, I said, 'I don't want to be the palate cleanser anymore. I want to be the big Avengers movie,'" said Reed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
To this end, the film takes place in the otherworldly Quantum Realm with unique alien-like locales and wacky visuals. The scenes of the superheroes exploring this realm were excellent and kept me engaged because of how different it looked compared to other Marvel Cinematic Universe films. It's all very Star Wars in look and execution.
However, I needed more than these visuals to keep me hooked for the rest of the movie as the film attempts to sell you on a new cast of Quantum Realm characters, and the film makes no genuine attempt to get audiences to care about them.
Kang has wreaked havoc upon the Quantum Realm, but despite this tragedy befalling our new cast of characters, it remained markedly difficult to care about their plight and stories. It seems like a half-baked idea that sounded intriguing, but the execution could be better. This lack of execution includes a criminal waste of Bill Murray and an equally surprising lack of Evangeline Lilly’s Wasp.
In contrast, we have Jonathan Majors putting in work as the main antagonist Kang the Conqueror. Majors portrays the time traveller with the intensity of a comic supervillain and the gravitas of a burdened king. He's the star of every scene he's in and is the film's greatest strength.
I especially loved that the filmmakers opted to show restraint by not making his scenes humorous or forcing him to quip like most MCU characters tend to do. If this is the type of performance we expect from the MCU's new big bad, then we're in good hands.
The core topic of family is depicted well, though it is most effective when it centers on Scott’s interactions with his daughter Cassie, played by Kathryn Newton. I would have liked to have seen a plotline teased in the trailer, wherein Scott laments the time he has lost with his daughter after being trapped in the Quantum Realm at the end of Ant-Man and the Wasp, but this was not a part of Scott's character arc in this film.
A bulk of Quantumania feels over-edited, both in terms of how scenes are cut together and the quality of the CGI. The peculiar editing is contained in the film's initial scenes that introduce the audience and the main characters to the Quantum Realm. Scenes are cut together haphazardly, and it doesn't feel like they are flowing into one another.
On the CGI front, it stands out. CGI is unavoidable, especially in this case, because the entire film is in a science fiction universe. However, shots in the movie often felt a bit "flat," no doubt because of the film's usage of Disney's "Volume" technology, first seen in use in Star Wars The Mandalorian television show.
The Volume involves a set wrapped in large screens projecting digital backgrounds that blend into physical locations. Though it is hard to say if it is the fault of the Volume or some other part of the filmmaking process, many shots in the film appear flat or green-screened. Despite this, many scenes in the film also look dreamlike, and the overall portrayal of the Quantum Realm was done well.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is an alright time at the movies that might be better served at home when it hits Disney+. Unfortunately, the MCU's new overarching villain, Kang, was introduced in a film that didn’t match the quality of his portrayal. The compelling future of Kang and Majors' performance as the character will excite fans and keep them coming back to the MCU for more.
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