Friday, February 17, 2023

Review: "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" Takes Us on a Fantastic Voyage

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 8 of 2023 (No. 1897) by Leroy Douresseaux

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
Running time:  125 minutes (2 hours, 5 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence/action, and language
DIRECTOR:  Peyton Reed
WRITER:  Jeff Loveness (based on the Marvel Comics characters)
PRODUCERS:  Kevin Feige and Stephen Broussard
EDITORS:  Adam Gerstel and Laura Jennings
COMPOSER:  Christophe Beck


Starring:  Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonathan Majors, Kathryn Newton, Bill Murray, Katy M. O'Brian, William Jackson Harper, James Cutler, David Dastmalchian, Randall Park, and Corey Stoll

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is a 2023 superhero and sci-fi action film directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Marvel Studios.  It is the 31st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and is also the third entry in the Ant-Man film series.  The film and the series are based on the Marvel Comics character, Ant-Man, who first appeared in Tales to Astonish #27 (cover date: September 1962) and was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby.  Quantumania finds Ant-Man and the Wasp on an incredible adventure in a strange universe where they face a dangerous new foe.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania finds Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) living his best life after his most recent adventures with the Avengers (as seen in Avengers: Endgame).  He is a successful author and is happily living with his girlfriend, Hope van Dyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly).  However, there is some trouble at home.  Scott's daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), has become an activist and has been recently arrested during a protest.

While they are visiting Hope's parents, her father, Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the scientist who was the original Ant-Man; and her mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who was the original Wasp, Cassie reveals that she has created a device that can map the “Quantum Realm,” a subatomic dimension of the Multiverse.  However, the device can also send messages to the Quantum Realm, which freaks out Janet, who was trapped there for 30 years.  Before Janet can do shut it down, a portal appears and pulls Scott, Hope, Cassie, Hank, and Janet into the Quantum Realm, separating Scott and Cassie from Hope, Hank, and Janet.

Once the two groups begin to explore the Quantum Realm, they interact with strange creatures and embark on an adventure that goes beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.  There is also a dark side.  Janet fears they are all headed for an encounter with someone she met when she was first trapped in the Quantum Realm – a despot named “Kang” (Jonathan Majors).

Ant-Man was a D-list character as far as Marvel Comics superheroes go, especially where familiarity with the general entertainment-consuming public was concerned.  Marvel Studios chose the right actor to play Ant-Man, the irresistibly likable, Paul Rudd.  The addition of Hollywood legends like Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer and television star Evangeline Lilly as a new female superhero made Ant-Man A-list box office.  The result was two lovable, loopy, and imaginative superhero films, Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018), that seemed aimed at young viewers even more so than adult audiences.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is just as loopy, but is bigger than the previous two films.  If French film director, Luc Besson (The Fifth Element), made a Star Wars film, it would probably look like Quantumania.  This film's menagerie of people, beings, creatures, machines, tech, etc. are almost on the level of Avatar: The Way of Water.  Quantumania is a dazzling spectacle, and it is nothing like what I expected based on the earlier films.  Everyone from director Peyton Reed and writer Jeff Loveness to the craft and visual effects people did the damn thing and the results are mind-blowing.

The performances are excellent.  As usual, Paul Rudd comes across as the actor most perfect to be Scott Lang and Ant-Man.  Michael Douglas plays Hank Pym with a mix of spry comedy and pitch-perfect drama.  However, I must make way for the women in this film.  Quantumania allows Michelle Pfeiffer to let the dog in her out to play Janet van Dyne, in a way that she probably has not done since White Oleander (2002).  She left me wanting more of Janet.

Evangeline Lilly is once again great as The Wasp, and in Quantumania, she makes me believe that it is time for the Wasp to have a solo outing.  Also, Kathryn Newton makes it impossible to leave Cassie down on the superhero farm (so to speak).  Katy O'Brian also gives a fierce turn as the Quantum Realm freedom fighter, Jentorra.

Finally, I'm not sure that I have words to quite describe Jonathan Major's brilliant turn as Kang.  It is as if Majors has given flesh to James Earl Jones' Darth Vader voice.  He makes Kang own Quantumania, and I think it will be a blast going forward to watch Majors play this character.

You may have heard bad things about Quantumania, from film critics and reviewers and others.  But fuck 'em.  Quantumania is one of Marvel Studios' best films of the past few years, and I heartily recommend it to you, dear readers.  With its sense of the unexpected and of the future known, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the perfect start to what is called “Phase 5” of the MCU.

9 of 10
★★★★+ out of 4 stars

Friday, February 17, 2023

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