15th Feb2023

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jonathan Majors, Kathryn Newton, William Jackson Harper | Written by Jeff Loveness | Directed by Peyton Reed

Ant-Man and the Wasp return for a second sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, a new adventure that’s designed to kick off the next phase of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). As such, it’s a visually inventive, comics-inspired tale that properly introduces a major new villain and delivers action, humour and emotion in the mighty Marvel manner.

Directed once again by Peyton Reed (who helmed both previous Ant-Man movies), Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania picks up some time after the events of Avengers: Endgame. While enjoying his new-found life as a hero, Scott reconnects with his now teenage daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), only to discover that she has made contact with microscopic universe the Quantum Realm, where Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) was once trapped.

When Janet realises what Cassie has done, she orders her to pull the plug on her experiment, but something goes wrong, and Scott, Cassie, Janet, Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lily) and Henry Pym (Michael Douglas) are all accidentally pulled into the Quantum Realm. There they discover strange new races, and find themselves targeted by a deadly threat, the time-travelling warlord known as Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).

The Quantum Realm has made previous appearances in Marvel movies, but it gets a proper fleshing out here, with some extremely impressive world-building and visual effects work. On that note, there’s a distinct hint of Star Wars in the various creatures, cities and methods of transport on display, which feels exceptionally cheeky, but still works.

The Ant-Man movies come with their own distinct brand of action, and there are plenty of crowd-pleasing shrinking and growing shenanigans here, even if there’s nothing to quite match the show-stopping toy train set-piece from the first movie. Still, the scriptwriters have obviously put a good deal of thought into Ant-Man and company’s various skill sets and there are a handful of decent punch-the-air action moments as a result.

The performances are predictably excellent. Rudd can do this character in his sleep at this point, and his usual comic persona is on fine form. However, there’s an extra layer of emotion this time round, due to his touching relationship with Newton’s Cassie, who brings youthful new energy to the film and has great screen chemistry with Rudd.

There’s also strong support from both Pfeiffer (who gets a large amount of plot) and Douglas, though Lily is once again sadly under-used, which is disappointing, considering she has her character name in the title of the film. In addition, there are fun comic turns from the likes of returning cast member David Dastmalchian (who voices alien life form Veb) and The Good Place’s William Jackson Harper as telepathic freedom fighter Quaz.

However, the stand-out is Jonathan Majors, who makes Kang a fascinating, complex and unpredictable character and dramatically improves on the character from the way he was initially presented in the Loki TV series. In particular, his line readings are superb, maintaining a intriguingly disconcerting sense of calm throughout.

On that note, it feels like Marvel have got the balance right between telling a stand-alone story and setting up future movies, with the time-honoured post-credits stings doing the heavy lifting for what’s to come. At any rate, the pieces are nicely set in place for the next phase, and they don’t feel too shoe-horned in this time round.

**** 4/5

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is in cinemas from Friday, February 14th.


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