“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is a colorful but passable teaser for whatever we will get from Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) during next several years – and I do not have much expectation on that, by the way. While there are a number of mildly amusing stuffs for building up its new background, the movie merely exists for leading us to next MCU products in my humble opinion, and that made me far less enthusiastic during my viewing.
At the beginning, the movie summarizes how things have been not so satisfactory for Scott Lang / Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) during several years after what happened in “Avengers: Endgame” (2019). Thanks to his participation in that big, bloated battle in “Avengers: Endgame”, Scott now becomes a recognizable local celebrity in San Francisco, but he is still not so satisfied mainly because he remains not that close to his daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton). She now grows up to be a rebellious adolescent girl who is also quite interested in what Scott’s mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) has studied for years, and she recently develops a special device which may help their research on the Quantum Realm, where Dr. Pym’s wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) was once trapped for no less than three decades.
For some hidden reason, Janet has avoided to talk about her past in the Quantum Realm even though she is now with her husband and their dear daughter Hope / The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), and she is not so pleased when Cassie proudly tests that device in front of others. Shortly after the device is activated, everyone is sucked into the Quantum Realm, and Scott and Cassie soon find themselves separated from Hope and her parents in this very alien world.
While they try to find Scott and Cassie, Hope and her parents behold many unexpected wonders of the Quantum Realm with Janet functioning as their guide, and the movie has some fun with that for a while. For example, there are a lot of various creatures which usually look pretty gooey and gelatinous to say the least, and my personal favorite is the one who look like a humongous version of Paramecium aurelia.
In addition, the movie also borrows bits of “Star Wars” (1977) as Hope and her parents enter a busily populated area packed with many different humanoid figures here and there. The mood becomes a bit more humorous with the brief but droll cameo appearance of a certain well-known actor, but then the movie hurries itself mainly because someone is also looking for Scott and Cassie just like Hope and her parents.
Around that narrative point, Janet certainly comes to reveal a lot to her husband and daughter. As already shown to us in the prologue scene, she happened to be closely associated with a very dangerous figure while they were stuck in the Quantum Realm together in the past, and now this figure is going to embark on his big diabolical plan a la “Tron: Legacy” (2010) once he gets what he wants via some assistance from Scott.
He is Kang the Conqueror, who is incidentally played by Jonathan Majors on an uncharacteristically detached mode. Probably because his mind was more occupied with his two upcoming films of this year, “Creed III” (2023) and “Magazine Dreams” (2023), Majors flatly occupies the screen in many of his key scenes in the film without much presence, and this curiously odd acting choice of his makes his villain character even less interesting than that big purple alien villain played by Josh Brolin in “Avengers: Endgame” and several other MCU flicks.
Meanwhile, Scott and Cassie go through lots of things together as they bounce from one point to another. While Cassie comes to show her father that she can be as brave and adventurous as her father or his girlfriend, Scott remains quite protective of his daughter as usual, and he surely comes to show later in the story that he is ready to do anything for protecting her. Their storyline is rather predictable, but Paul Rudd and Kathryn Newton are engaging in their characters’ rocky interactions throughout the film, and Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Evangeline Lilly dutifully occupy their respective spots as usual, though Lily is relatively under-utilized despite her titular role.
In the end, the movie culminates to a big climactic sequence drenched in lots of CGI, and that is where it comes to lose more of my interest. Let’s face it, we have seen countless different versions of that via a heap of MCU products during last 15 years, and, to be frank with you, all of them look and feel pretty much same to me without much distinctive quality. Director Peyton Reed, who directed the two previous Ant-Man films, certainly knows what he is handling here, but the overall result is rather deficient in terms of style and personality, and that is one or two steps down from the considerable fun and charm of the previous Ant-Man films.
In conclusion, “Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania” is below the average achievement level of the MCU flicks, and it only reminds me more of how I have been rather numb to recent superhero movies. Like “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (2021), some of them were satisfying with a bit of fresh air, but many of them are forgettable, and “Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania” will probably be soon forgotten as more MCU products come one by one as planned in advance.