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“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” review


Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, in theaters starting February 17

Spoilers ahead — you have been warned!

Marvel has released the 31st film in its ever-expanding cinematic universe that endeavors to bring every comic book kid’s most absurd fantasies to the big screen. While the newest film, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” achieves this feat with solid acting, action and camp, it is not without its bumps, bruises and ant bites. 

Yes, I went there. No, I’m not apologizing, and neither does this film.

Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne and Kathryn Newton as Cassie Lang all deliver on the character dynamics set up in previous films. Newton picks up the torch from Abby Ryder Fortson by delivering a charmingly quirky evolution of the character. Michael Douglass and Michelle Pfeiffer return as Dr. Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne respectively, rounding out the astonishing ant-family. 

Jonathan Majors cements the film’s cast with a depiction of Kang the Conqueror, the dreaded Marvel time-lord gone rogue, that will not soon be forgotten. Nor should it be if avid fans of the franchise are following all of the story threads in the now thrice-yearly release schedule. 

Majors keeps the film from descending into camp lunacy by presenting a villain that remarkably manages to hold audience attention and interest despite the zaniness happening around him. If there is one reason to see this film, it is to admire an actor who is having the time of his life playing a character who, in anyone else’s hands, might be hard to take seriously.

Speaking of taking things seriously, that is something that this film decidedly (and to its credit) does not do. The action is fast-paced, yet builds at a pace that at times seems uneven. Playing with the film’s comedic tone, it falls just short of throwing a big “Bang! Kapow!” up on the screen with every punch. 

The film’s characters hardly ever seem truly in danger, but then they don’t have to be. We all know how this thing usually plays out. However, Marvel manages to make the viewer question that assumption with an odd tension which sometimes walks the microscopic line between, “Oh no! Ant-Man might not make it back from this one,” and “Yo… is that a talking amoeba attacking our main characters?”

What some fans of the “Ant-Man” series may miss is the levity brought by past characters Luis, played by Michael Peña, and detective Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park. Both make a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo within the first five minutes of the film . Not to worry, though, since legendary actors, whose comedic chops need no praise here, make some surprising appearances elsewhere in the film. Regardless, those who enjoyed Luis’s extended and chaotic recaps may be disappointed. 

A further source of disappointment may be that this film doesn’t deliver any striking commentary on current events, something that Marvel has prided itself on throughout its publishing and movie-making career. 

You won’t find any moving soliloquies on the nature of power in the 21st century or timely pandemic-related commentary, though maybe one could argue “the blip” represents the pandemic in some multiverse. You will find the familiar morals of family importance and the power of “not being a jerk” and “looking out for the little guy.”

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is Marvel’s most wacky adventure yet, but again, this doesn’t detract from the film so long as you know what you’re getting into. 

My rating: 3 out of 5 Ants!

SPOILERS: Can I get some feedback on that post-credits scene, though? Did a certain prominent, 19th-century African American historical figure really have to be there?