Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023) Review
2023 has officially kicked off the fifth phase in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania being the all-important kickstarter to the box office juggernaut. However, while the MCU has many exciting, upcoming projects in the pipeline such as Guardians of the Galaxy 3 and an abundance of Disney+ series, Quantumania shines a bleak light on what to expect from Marvel in 2023.
Following the infamous events of Avengers: Endgame, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) finds himself struggling to reconnect with his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) due to him missing out on multiple years of her life. But when Scott, Cassie, Hope (Evangeline Lilly) and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) accidentally get transported into the Quantum Realm, they must work out their familial struggles and find a way out of this uncharted territory before a new adversary known as Kang (Jonathan Majors) learns of their useful technology.
There was alot of hype surrounding Quantumania. The imagery and potential for off-the-wall concepts was seemingly endless, but despite its best efforts, Ant-Man's latest journey mostly plays it safe and to the point, never being audacious enough to test the waters with new and exciting ideas. This isn't to say director Peyton Reed doesn't attempt to break new ground; it's just that the film's most interesting parts don't come until the underwhelming climax, and considering the movie takes its sweet 2-hour runtime to get there, Scott's latest journey just doesn't justify the destination.
The film definitely achieved its goal in making me laugh -- just not in the way I was hoping. Despite having a $200 million budget, the special effects were laughably lacklustre which was extremely surprising for a blockbuster that takes place almost exclusively in front of a green screen. But what truly made the CGI stand out was the horrendous effects used for M.O.D.O.K (Corey Stoll). When you can hear audible laughter from the cinema upon a villain's reveal, you know it's gonna be bad. To the film's credit they do play his reveal off as a joke; a joke that didn't land, but a joke nevertheless. Quantumania's writing also managed to fall flat, with much of the dialogue failing to resonate any emotion between characters and the audience which isn't very promising for a movie largely revolving around a disjointed family coming reconnecting. For a movie that promised to break the norm, it played it much or safe than I could have expected.
If there is one thing which saves Quantumania from being a total trainwreck, it would be the remarkable performance delivered by Jonathan Majors. Majors' portrayal of the much-anticipated Conqueror is one of confidence, masterfully blending calmness and indignation to create a villain which genuinely feels threatening; a trait MCU villains have been lacking for quite some time. This is the only truly great performance in the film though as while no one does an inherently bad job, Rudd and Newton fail to have any genuine chemistry with one another and don't feel like a father-daughter pairing in the slightest. The same can also be said for Pfeiffer, Lilly and Douglas who have large roles in the movie, but don't feel like they deserve the extra screentime due to their scenes being incredibly boring and underwhelming.
The third instalment in the Ant-Man trilogy arguably should have been the best, but instead feels like a meaningless stepping stone to fill the void between now and mid-2023. Considering the cataclysmic stakes at play in the film, you would've thought the end project would include emotional weight and important progress in the MCU, but its very much the opposite. Quantumania features copy-paste action with sprinkles of hope in the form of compelling time concepts that end up being wasted in yet another forgettable entry into a withering cinematic universe.