Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania has parts that function, delivering high-octane entertainment. However, tonal shifts make you question if the film or you have an off day. Based on comics by Jack Kirby, with a screenplay by Jeff Loveness and directed by Peyton Reed, this third installment brings an established cast alongside newcomers to the quantum realm and the Ant-Man universe.
Though the stakes feel lackluster, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania trudges along at times rather than galloping at a clip, Marvel’s goodwill might make the film worthwhile.
Cue the Happy Toby Maguire Spiderman-esque Stroll
The opening is promising and starts hilarious as the Welcome Back Kotter theme plays. A happy Scott, a.k.a. Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), narrates his picturesque life. Despite the occasional oddness, like people photographing him with their dog or referring to him as Spider-Man, it’s all good. Life couldn’t be better. On top of that, he’s an author, complete with participating in the mortifying right of passage, reading your text aloud to a group of strangers. So the humor here mixes between funny and whomp-whomp cringe. But it’s Paul Rudd, so it’s easy to forgive.
It’s happy until Scott gets a call that his daughter, Cassandra (Kathryn Newton), is in jail. Cassandra’s savior complex makes her perfect for superhero martyrdom. This isn’t to say her determination is wrong. She even drops some gems regarding the responsibility of those who can challenge injustice. But Kathryn’s delivery lacks bite. Her expression looks less passionate and more bemused or amused, depending on who she’s gazing at. While I love Kathryn Newton in Freaky, she does not deliver. Here’s where Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania falters. Confusing emotional stakes make you struggle to invest in the story. The dialogue and delivery do not effectively match what occurs.
Tonal Flip Flops and Mismatches: The Movie
Cassandra’s creation leads to Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) throwing a fit and turning it off. Somehow, her vehement strike lands them all in the quantum realm. Janet’s withholding of pertinent information lacks comprehension. There must be some danger from simply knowing the threat for it to work. That does not happen here. Whether her family knows or not does not alter the level of risk one iota. So it’s as though her actions are nothing more than blatant tension-building rather than a natural manifestation of the situation.
Dialogue Does Not Help the Drama
Jonathan Majors’ Kang looks more pained than angry. His performance is top-notch but bewildering next to Janet’s terror. Yet with this performance, there’s a warmth and care only an actor of Majors’ caliber can pull off. The dialogue does not explain enough about what’s happening. In other Marvel films, clarification helped viewers understand the level of threat. Even those who did not read the comics could get it. Plus, with characters like Thanos, they built it up over several films. Much of the dialogue is basic, with few inventive conversations that add any value, so it drags the film down.
Some Laughs and Great Action
Watching everyone jump from size to size is part of what makes the Ant-Man films so fun. Now it’s more of a family affair. Though some CGI doesn’t glisten in awe, the quantum realm is imaginative and stunning. Watching other creatures fight will make you choose your favorites. The pink one that obsesses with holes is so cute. There’s an adorable scene with Scott giving tips to his daughter. Their discussion makes you recall previous films. Despite the messy plot and dialogue, there is enjoyment. It just does not capture the off-the-wall responses of other Marvel movies.
Marvel’s Phase IV needs to find the magic sauce to refresh its cinematic universe before all the goodwill from the previous phases expires. There’s potential here, but Marvel’s need to play it safe while appearing edgy will not fly without a revamp. Marvel has touched on race, war, and terrorism, all with a light touch. That’s fine, but dazzling them is impossible once everyone knows your ingredients and how you mix them. That’s the crux of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania; it doesn’t dazzle. The humor and sharp wit of previous phases barely arrive here. The scarcity of details and mismatched emotions make its success unsure. But Marvel fans and families may enjoy it regardless.