Review: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania

Score: C+

Director: Peyton Reed

Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Kathryn Newton, Jonathan Majors

Running Time: 125 Minutes

Rated: PG-13

As the stage-setter for the MCU's Phase Five, Quantumania is a success. It further explores the Multiverse and introduces us to Kang (Jonathan Majors), a menacing, dimension-hopping villain. But for those who enjoyed the lower stakes of past Ant-Man movies - as well as those who were hoping the MCU would course-correct after a so-so Phase Four - it's often a failure. Even in the Quantum Realm, all you'll find is another building block of content that will come out quarterly but leave no lasting impression.

Peyton Reed joins James Gunn as the only director to take an Avenger (or adjacent team) from start to finish. While his quirky humor served the first two films well, he's operating with one hand tied behind his back. The movie wants to be a major universe-altering event. So the trademark goofiness, while welcome, often feels out of place. The first two entries featured clever uses of Ant-Man's size, like a big showdown on a model train track or a tiny car chase through the hills of San Francisco. None of that happens here, so there's no sense of scale or innovation. This is another superhero movie where the powers are often sidelined for punching.

But there are some wonderful moments. An early meeting at a Quantum Realm watering hole suggests a sub-atomic Deep Space Nine, with all sorts of odd creatures cutting deals and trying to get laid. And a major plot action - which I won't spoil - nearly unravels when Scott starts seeing billions of possible versions of himself, leading to an existential crisis. And just wait until you meet M.O.D.O.K. These bursts of creativity make it easier to ignore some dodgy VFX work, repetitive action and Evangeline Lilly's complete lack of screen presence.

Still, if Avengers past and future are destined to face off against Kang, it's a good thing Jonathan Majors has the chops required for such a major part. I first noticed the talented actor in 2019's The Last Black Man in San Francisco. His star has risen quickly, with an HBO series, a Spike Lee movie and Creed III on the horizon. He imbues Kang with the right amount of cruelty, ego and obsession to make him believably dangerous.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is too big to fail, but it can't measure up when it comes to the little things.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.