- ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA
- Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly
- Directed by: Peyton Reed
- Rating: PG-13
- Running Time: 125 minutes
- Marvel Studios
After a long and sometimes lackluster collection of full-length movies and Disney+ series, Marvel’s Phase 4 came to an end with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which was a high note for the franchise as it nabbed five Academy Award nominations. The dawn of a new phase of Marvel movies has arrived with “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” again featuring Kansas City’s own Paul Rudd as the titular hero. While “Quantumania” lacks the dramatic depth of “Black Panther,” it does showcase an entertaining story with good character development, particularly with Rudd’s character, and a great performance by Jonathan Majors as the time traveling villain Kang the Conqueror.
We find Scott living a peaceful life with his teenage daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton) while his girlfriend, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) aka The Wasp has become a corporate executive. During a visit at the home of Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), Cassie, with encouragement of Hank, has somehow pulled a Tony Stark by building a device that can act as a satellite in the Quantum Realm. This is much to the chagrin of Janet who demands to have it turned off, but alas she is too late as a portal opens up and sucks them all down to the Quantum Realm.
Scott and his annoying daughter stumble into a rebel camp where they are initially treated as prisoners. Meanwhile, Hank, Janet, and Hope travel to a city where Janet divulges secrets from her 30 years in the Quantum Relam, including her relationship with the time traveler known as Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). As it turns out, Kang, the Quantum Realm’s despotic ruler, is trapped and needs a complex power core to escape.
After being captured by his subordinate, M.O.D.O.K. (Corey Stoll), formerly Darren Cross who was thought to be dead, Scott is forced to reacquire the power core so Kang can enact his revenge against those who banished him. Scott soon learns the hard way that Kang was right in telling him that he is out of his league.
The first appealing thing about “Quantumania” is Scott’s development as a character during the course of the three films featuring him. Unlike Thor, who has become regressed into a buffoon and Peter Parker, who can’t seem to grow up, Scott has grown from just being a bumbling burglar. Of course, it could be more but there is obviously a reluctance to get too far away from having comedic elements in his story.
Pfeiffer is also a delight to watch as she simply takes over her scenes as the story peels away the layers of her character. However, the true star of the entire film is Majors, who already played a version of Kang in the outstanding Disney+ “Loki” series. Majors plays him with an ease as Kang vacillates between stoicism and pure rage. His Kang is easily on par with Thanos as the greatest villains in the Marvel franchise.
While the special effects are outstanding, they are simply window dressing as sometimes the settings and the story itself appear to have been copycatted elements of a pair of “Star Wars” films. The pacing is a little disjointed at times, but the biggest grievance is Cassie. She is arguably the most annoying character in any Marvel movie or series. While Newton is obviously a talented actress because she did get the part, her performance is akin to listening to someone running their nails down a chalkboard. Poorly written character and an equally unlikable performance that drains some of the life out of the film.
Overall, “Quantumania” is an entertaining flick that at least lays the groundwork for a hopefully a much better and well-rounded slate of Phase 5 films.