Film Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Mild spoilers ahead.

If you had told me when I left the cinema after seeing Avengers: Endgame that in a few years time my enthusiasm for the MCU would hit an all-time low, I would have laughed at you. But alas, after what could have been the perfect ending to an incredible saga, Marvel Studios ploughed on with Phase 4 and seemed to adopt a “quantity over quality” attitude towards their projects, churning out not just films but a number of TV shows for Disney + which inevitably led to the usually high-standard of the MCU being somewhat diminished. Final products were looking rushed and cheap, the writing quality seemed to be getting worse and the time and care that used to go in to these films just seemed to be non-existent.

For me, Marvel began to lose it’s charm during Phase Four with the exception of a couple of projects, I didn’t find myself going to the cinema on release day to catch the latest entry, I haven’t even watched some of the Disney + shows! Considering how many projects made up the last phase, it’s strange to me that the MCU seemed to be lacking any real sense of direction, there wasn’t anything to really get me invested in the stories coming up.

But now, we’ve got Phase Five, and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the film to kick it off and introduce us to the new big-bad of the franchise. There was a lot riding on this one, but was it any good?

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is now happily semi-retired after the events of Endgame, he’s written a successful book and has decided to leave the superhero life on the back-burner while he tries to spend more quality time with his now grown-up daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton), after they lost a lot of years thanks to the actions of Thanos and the events of Ant-Man and The Wasp. However, events quickly send the two of them, along with Hope, Janet and Hank (Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas) spiralling back in to the Quantum Realm. They must work together to try and escape whilst coming up against a new, formidable foe, Kang the Conquerer (Jonathan Majors).

It becomes apparent very early on that Quantumania has very little room to breathe, there is a lot to establish and the film is very busy. Unfortunately, Ant-Man and his chums are treated as a bit of an after-thought and really this film is about introducing Kang to unfamiliar audiences and establishing him as the next Avengers-level threat. To that end, Quantumania is a success, because Majors is by far the biggest positive of this film. He delivers a nuanced performance that makes Kang unlike any villain we’ve seen before in the MCU, by the end of the film I was fully on board with this character being the next “big bad” and I am very excited to see what is in store, because the possibilities are endless and Majors is perfect for this role.

But where Majors shines, the rest of the cast aren’t really given a lot to do. On reflection, this film could easily have cut Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas and it would have had little to no impact on the overall story, they’re sidelined for the vast majority of the runtime and it very much felt like it was two actors being there to fulfil contractual obligations more than anything else. Kathryn Newton gets a decent amount of action as Cassie, and she’s a good addition to the ever-growing roster of superheroes, Michelle Pfeiffer also has a much larger role than I anticipated and I enjoyed what we saw from Janet van Dyne as she provides much needed exposition and insight to the story. Paul Rudd is fine as Ant-Man, but I did leave questioning whether or not this was the best character to use when introducing the audience to Kang, I’ve never really found Ant-Man/Scott Lang to be particularly interesting and this film didn’t really do anything to make me like him any more than I did. In my opinion this film pitches a Grade-A villain against a Grade-B superhero which caused a bit of an unbalance. But with the exception of Thor and Spider-Man, are there that many Grade-A heroes left in the MCU? Certainly something worth discussing.

From a production standpoint, this did little for to alleviate my fears that the MCU is still not putting the time and effort in to the films as they once did, because from a visual standpoint I found this film to be extremely poor. It’s 95% green screen against a barrage of very underwhelming and distracting CGI, which to me takes away from the charm and soul these films once had, when the MCU entries made 15 years ago look far superior to this one, you know there’s a problem. They do try to make the Quantum Realm look vibrant, colourful and interesting – and I’m sure some people will find it to be so. However, it was distracting for me because of just how fake it looked, to the point certain bits reminded me of Spy Kids 3, which is not a good thing at all. I know there are a lot of horror stories out there about how Marvel are not well regarded by VFX artists and it really is starting to show, I hold the MCU to a higher standard because we have seen what they can achieve, but what we are seeing right now is so below par it’s becoming a bit embarrassing. Perhaps because they know they’ve got a committed audience they feel it can allow them to cut corners and be lazier, but the box office stats right now suggest audiences may be starting to check out, and I can’t blame them.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still enough here to say that the film is fun and it’s definitely watchable, but I think Quantumania is a perfect depiction of the wider issues plaguing the MCU at this time: Cheap, rushed, lazy, and lacking the charm that it once had, even the humour doesn’t land that well anymore. In hindsight, I think if it wasn’t for the introduction of Kang, this film could be bottom of my MCU rankings. I do have some hope that things can improve and I’m happy that finally after a few years in a directionless void, we now have some idea of what our heroes are going to be facing.

But the quality needs to improve, or audiences simply aren’t going to turn up anymore. The MCU is becoming a victim of it’s own success, between 2014 and 2019 almost everything they put out was a hit, but they are not even coming close to reaching those heights at the moment, but it is so easily rectified! Take some pride in your films again, take your time, trust me, audiences would rather wait longer for good content as opposed to being given mediocrity. It’s for these reasons I am going to give this a lower score than I usually would, because I expect more from this franchise and I really hope they can start to right the ship again, I’m close to giving up on them, but I don’t want to!

By all means, see this on the big screen if you want to, but if you’ve got Disney + I would just wait for a streaming release, which is something I never thought I’d be saying when it comes to Marvel films.

I give Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania a 5.5/10.

Have you seen the film? What did you think? How do you feel about the state of the MCU at the moment? Let me know!

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