Ant-Man and the Wasp Quantumania
Stars: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Kathryn Newton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Jonathan Majors
The modest irreverent charm of the earlier adventures of the divorced petty thief turned diminutive superhero is absent from this simultaneously slight and bloated sequel.
After a brief quantum realm-set prologue, we catch up with hero Scott Lang (Rudd) evidently leading a life of contentment, living happily with his girlfriend Hope (Evangeline) and his teenage activist daughter Cassie (Newton). He’s also promoting his recently-published memoir come self-help book ‘Look Out for the Little Guy’.
While Scott, Hope and Cassie are visiting Hope’s parents, scientists Hank (Douglas) and Janet (Pfieffer), Cassie mentions that she has been working on a device to make contact with the quantum realm, a sub-atomic world outside of space and time. Horrified, Janet, who had spent two decades exiled in the realm, commands Cassie to turn it off. Too late alas, and they are sucked into the realm populated by a bizarre collection of creatures - imagine the Star Wars cantina denizens turned up to eleven with some random sentient corpuscles and vegetables in the mix too. A number of them, it is revealed, are engaged in a rebellion against the dictatorship of Kang the Conqueror (Majors), a character we had glimpsed in the prologue. Bill Murray is in here too as Krylar, a Bill Murrayesque old acquaintance of Janet’s.
Curiously, for a high stakes-themed picture intended to set off Phase 5 of the Marvel series and introduce the subsequent episodes’ major villain (on the big screen that is, one incarnation of Kang has already appeared in Marvel series Loki), the film has the anything goes panto-like feel of less episodic more standalone adventures, specifically Taika Waititi’s last two Thor pictures. The script, by ‘Rick and Morty’ writer Jeff Loveness also shares those earlier films’ cavalier attitude to internal logic.
The pandering character call-backs are present and correct, and the lurid soupy CGI visuals while striking are ultimately a bit of an eyesore. Majors as haunted villain Kang manages to rise above the melee with a compellingly controlled performance that feels like the acting equivalent of the guy who lowers his voice in an altercation to settle things down. Otherwise, Pfieffer manages to bring some grit and urgency to proceedings, and it’s admittedly mildly amusing to hear erstwhile Gordon Gecko, Douglas, voicing a little paean to socialism.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is out now.
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