Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania

Title: Don't make me type that out again.

Describe This Movie In One Revenge of the Nerds Quote:
ETA-BETA #1: What did the Pink Panther say when he stepped on an ant?
ETA-BETA #2: What  *did* the Pink Panther say when he stepped on an ant?
ETA-BETA #1: Dead ant, dead ant ... dead ant, dean ant, dead ant, dead ant.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Didn't the Ant-Man movies used to be the fun ones?

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 2 Anchor Steams out of 5.
Tagline: "Witness the beginning of a new dynasty."

Better Tagline: "Let's get small."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: With the Blip more or less behind them, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope Pym — AKA Ant-Man and the Wasp — are still together, but headed in different directions. Hope is running the Pym Van Dyne Foundation, while Scott is ... getting freebies from vendors who think he's Spider-Man. Things change, however, when Scott's daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) has been monkeying around with mapping the Quantum Realm, drawing the attention of someone Hope's mom Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) will only refer to as "The Conqueror" (Jonathan Majors).
"Critical" Analysis: Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (hereafter referred to as Quantumania, because give me a break) is the first entry in Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (hereafter referred to as the MCU because see above). And if this new movie is indicative of what's to come, then much like Phase Four before it (not that one), we're in for further demonstrations of the inevitability of diminishing returns.

Phase Four, recall, didn't do much beyond introducing a ton of new characters — who'll have to be accounted for in any subsequent team-ups — along with the multiverse, both a gimmick and a trope that effectively lowers what little stakes already existed and renders any emotional payoff moot. Need proof? Jonathan Majors is already talking about RDJ coming back for the next Avengers movie.

And we're not exactly off to a promising start. Director Peyton Reed teases us with a potentially interesting internal conflict for Scott, who's struggling for relevance after saving the universe (something he apparently reminds his friends and family of quite a bit), while Cassie and Hope are both actively trying to make the world a better place. But he deflates that balloon almost immediately by dropping Scott and company in Kang's lap.

From there, it's a largely standalone effort: a green screen morass that advances the overall storyline more in the final five minutes (and the mid-credits scene) than in the entirety of the movie that came before it. Quantumania looks like a Star Wars movie that takes place entirely on a planet-sized version of the Mos Eisley cantina, complete with simplistic revolutionary subplot.
click to enlarge
Now that's what I call a rainbow connection.
The F/X run the gamut from acceptably sub-Avatar (various creatures and flora) to shit that looks like it was yanked from an id Software game (Kang's killer henchling, whose name you can probably figure out). Similarly, the level of cast enthusiasm goes from "Pretty much game for anything" (Majors, Newton), to "It's a living" (Rudd, Pfeiffer), to "Why have you forsaken me?" (MIchael Douglas as original Ant-Man Hank Pym).

Among Quantumania's other faults (and this appears to be a feature and not a bug of the MCU at this point): it can't stop sniffing its own farts. Call them callbacks or simple laziness, but Reed strips stuff from everything from Captain America: The Winter Soldier to Thor: Ragnarok, which makes you wonder what might have shaken out if they'd spent some of those fat CGI dollars on a story consultant or two.

Like it or not, this is the ouroboros the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become. Kang's backstory may be a little more convoluted than Thanos's, but in the end he also just wants to "burn the broken worlds" to create a better one. The fate of the entire universe is — once again — at stake, only now it feels less urgent than ever.

Is There A Post-Credits Scene? As mandated by the protocols of the MCU, there is both a mid-credits and a post-credits scene. The 10,000 VFX foiks who worked on Quantumania appreciate you sticking around.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is in theaters today.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar