Rob Reviews "Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania"
I think I am one of the few people that did not hate on Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Even when it first hit theaters (much less on subsequent viewings), I did my best to put it in the framework of being the first chapter in a book as the Skywalker family saga got under way. It is by no means the best Star Wars film in the history of ever, but I also don’t believe that it should be poo-poo’d on like it is. Now, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is not the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is not a prequel, but it IS the first chapter in Phase Five of its journey. With a decade and a half worth of films behind it, I feel like the bar keeps getting raised… but I am not sure that is fair.
In the continuing wake of the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finds himself trying to find his new normal having missed five years of both the lives of himself and his family. With his daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), becoming quite the genius of her own, she creates a device that can map the Quantum Realm alongside her grandfather and her mother (Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly, respectively). Upon learning this, her grandmother (Michelle Pfeiffer) wants it shut down and when trying to do so draws all of them into the Quantum Realm themselves. Secrets are revealed and a new evil is on the rise in Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).
I have heard quite a few of my critic colleagues feel that Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania was less than stellar, and this is where I feel the rise of geek culture is starting to sail into some unstable waters. I even admit that at one point, I myself was sucked into these waters a bit and dissecting films based in said culture on what is pretty much an unfair level. You see, the line we have to walk as critics that are proud geeks on any level is entertainment value versus faithfulness to source material. (I give you my conundrum of things like Civil War in comparison to Captain America: Civil War.)
This is by no means a bad film. Visually, it is exactly what I expected from not only Disney but from what has been established as the Quantum Realm with characters whose motivations compliment those of the main characters themselves. At certain points, it does seem like the storyboards were borrowed from a Pink Floyd/Jodorowrsky brainstorming session to establish this universe as reality-bending making the script itself almost too smart for its own good and could lose the interest of casual fans of this genre, but that is OK since the film itself is one of the shorter ones at two hours and five minutes.
The main thing to understand (and let me reiterate this) is that a big part of Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is to establish the new “final boss” in Kang, and Majors does exactly what I expected him to do to introduce new and higher stakes for the heroes across the MCU. He brings this new-to-most villain to life in a way that made me feel like even Thanos himself would find himself intrigued by the level of power and danger Kang brings with costuming that really brings that character to life that much more. (As a side note here: it is helpful to use “Loki” on Disney+ as some pre-film homework to make sure very little is missed in his story.) Now that the MCU itself is well-established, the “slow burn” that got us to Avengers: Infinity War is not a luxury that Disney has given the short attention span of the mass audience. As much as I would love to see them take their time like they did starting in 2008, I also understand the business aspect of what they need to handle. Luckily, this storyline will take us through Phases Five and Six as the timeline currently stands. As I said right after the screening I attended, although I understand how some felt this was underwhelming, I also feel that this could enjoyed better down the road once more of the bigger picture is established.
Before the attempt to crown Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania a part of that bottom-tier MCU films category happens, just enjoy this film for the adventure-comedy that it is intended to be in the role that it plays in the timeline as a whole. Remembering that all three of these films have leaned into the comedy along the lines of how the Guardians of the Galaxy films have done, it’s also important to not do that same level of leaning into any translation issues from the comics to screen. Remember that we also told stories like The Infinity Gauntlet and Age of Ultron in two films or less with A LOT of liberties taken. Go into this film to be entertained and to get a glimpse into what is to come over the next three years and change; and yes, there are both a mid-credit and post credit scene to be waited on.