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On the Screen: ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania’ goes into dangerous new territory

Ant Man and The Wasp Quantumania

MARCUS CHEONG watches the latest ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ movie…

Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania (AU-M/UK-12A/US – PG-13)

In a Word: Disproportionate

Ant Man and The Wasp Quantumania

A scene from ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania’ starring Paul Rudd as Ant-Man, Kathryn Newton as his daughter Cassie and Evangeline Lilly as The Wasp. 

The first Ant-Man was a breath of fresh air into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It w as an underdog, heist film that punched way above its weight with a balanced blend of humour, heart and action. Eight years after that surprise hit, the third Ant-Man film completely departs from the roots of what made the original so great.

“[T]he third Ant-Man film completely departs from the roots of what made the original so great.”

Quantumania leaves the real world behind as Ant-Man, aka Scott Lang, (played by Paul Rudd) and his family are sucked into the quantum realm. There they discover an entire civilization living in this tiny universe. It is a surreal landscape populated with amoeba-like monsters, weird rebel aliens and “living” buildings. An oppressive science fiction army complete with space ships, lasers and the bizarre MODOK (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing) has crushed the inhabitants and they exist under the rule of Kang the Conqueror. 

There is a brief attempt for the plot to link to Scott’s criminal roots as Kang needs him to steal a power source. But this moment is short-lived before the film devolves into an all out war between the rebels and Kang’s army. It all feels completely out of character given what we have come to expect from previous Ant-Man films. They were grounded with family drama, small-time convicts and a relatable setting.

The gag that worked so well in the past was that the grand action was happening on a small scale. Epic battles on toy trains and car chases with Hot Wheels-sized cars were all part of the charm. Quantumania changes the scale, and by shrinking down to the quantum realm, they have made the setting a vast alien universe that feels more like Star Trek with battle scenes on the scale of Star Wars.

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The characters fight for the literal fate of the universe and this all feels out of proportion. With no real build-up to the threat of Kang (except for a quick reveal in the Loki television series), the stakes of this film are unearned. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been struggling to find its footing ever since the stunningly successful Avengers: Endgame. Phase four suffered from a lack of cohesion and now this first film of phase five does little to install confidence that Marvel is back-on-track.

If one can ignore the incongruities, there is some fun to be had. There are still some genuinely funny moments. Cassie, Scott’s daughter, has grown into a force to be reckoned with and Janet (Michelle Pfieffer) shares some deep secrets from her past. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) have much less to do in comparison, they mostly just drive spaceships and turn up for the fight scenes. There is a thinly veiled message about never giving up fighting for those who need your help. 

Ant-Man and The Wasp Quantumania boldly goes where no ant has gone before. The real question that should be asked, is whether they really needed to go to this place at all.


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