ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA: 2 ½ STARS. “loud, CGI-overload.”
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” now playing on theatres, kicks off Marvel’s phase five with a talky sci fi story, heavy on the scientific blather. Instead of “Quantumania,” a more appropriate subtitle could have been: More Fun Than Physics Class!
“It’s a pretty good world,” says Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a.k.a. Ant-Man. He’s a member of the Avengers, gifted with the power of size manipulation and some funny dialogue. “I’m glad I saved it.” Basking in the glow of his heroic contributions to mankind, he’s written a book titled “Look Out for the Little Guy,” and shamelessly drinks in the praise of his friends and fans.
His family, however, thinks he is resting on his laurels, and, in secret, are still working on ways to help the planet. His romantic partner Hope van Dyne, a.k.a. Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) and the original Ant-Man Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), have created a sort of satellite for deep space, except it connects them to the Quantum Realm, a subatomic level where the realities of space and time don’t exist.
Having spent 30 years trapped in the subatomic world, Hope’s mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) is horrified by their experiments. “Do you know how dangerous the Quantum Realm is? Turn it off now.”
Of course, Cassie and Co learn too late that the connection to the Quantum Realm goes both ways, and they are all sucked into the satellite and transported to the strange world, a place that looks like a Yes album cover from 1973 come to life.
Separated into two groups, Scott and Cassie are captured by freedom fighters led by Jentorra (Katy O’Brian), while Hope, Hank and Janet are cut loose, on the run from Janet’s old nemesis, a destroyer of worlds called Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).
Kang needs the Pym Particles, the subatomic particles developed by Hank which can increase or reduce mass as well as density and strength, to exit the Quantum Realm and travel through time and bring havoc to the real world.
Only Ant-Man and his ragtag gang can stop him and his interdimensional threat, but only if they can navigate the Quantum Realm and come together as a group.
There is a lightness of touch to “Quantumania.” Rudd’s charisma sees to that, and he provides some genuinely funny moments in the film. Majors brings the secret sauce as a great cartoon villain, but the talky script and messy action scenes suck away much of the fun.
You may be thinking, “But Michael Douglas talks to a giant ant. How can that be bad?” True enough, it is something I never would have expected to see, and I got a kick out of it, but for every nifty moment like that, there is sea of exposition, as if the filmmakers don’t trust the audience to understand what is happening unless it is spelled out for them.
The loud, CGI-overload climax fills the screen but doesn’t grab the imagination. There are cool creatures and action enough for any two movies, but it all feels thrown at the screen, willy-nilly. There is a lot of it, but none of it is memorable or particularly original.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is a let-down, a movie that feels more like an introduction to the next batch of MCU movies than a standalone.