China stock swoon could boost US real estateAnt-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: The worst Marvel film yetChina stock swoon could boost US real estate

The latest film about the minuscule superhero sets up Marvel’s next big villain but other than that, it has nothing to offer beyond drab-looking action, writes Caryn James.

It’s a rule of superhero movies that they must culminate in an overlong action sequence, with bodies and weapons crashing around everywhere. Now imagine if that sequence were the whole movie, but with unsuspenseful, drab-looking action. There you have Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the latest and possibly lamest instalment in the usually reliable Marvel Cinematic Universe. The heart of Ant-Man (2015) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) was Paul Rudd as everyman Scott Lang, who puts on his special suit and shrinks into the minuscule Ant-Man – or as I like to think of him, The Littlest Avenger. This third film throws all that away. The character is no more than a prop in a plot that sets up the next big Marvel villain, and does it without a jolt of energy.

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Scott is now in a relationship with Hope van Dyne, his partner in world-saving as The Wasp. Evangeline Lilly once more makes Hope surprisingly bland. You’d think a woman who can shrink and fly would have a little more charisma. Scott and his daughter, Cassie (Kathryn Newton), have become part of Hope’s family, which includes her genius parents, Hank Pym, (Michael Douglas) and Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer), who at the end of Ant-Man and The Wasp was rescued after 30 years in the Quantum Realm, the subatomic place where the rules of time and space don’t apply.

Cassie, who was eight in the last Ant-Man film five years ago (when she was played by Abby Ryder Fortson), is now 18, so she is obviously ageing in movie-sequel years, which like the Quantum Realm itself treats time as something optional. She is a budding scientist, inspired by the man she calls Grandpa Hank, but when an invention goes wrong, they all end up in the Quantum Realm for the duration of the film. It is a place that borrows from Star Wars with a splash of Dune. There is sandy, rocky terrain. There are sections that look underwater, and plants that resemble translucent mushrooms. There are blobby creatures without faces. But the palette is a murky brown and blue, and the effect is like watching an entire film shot in a dark tunnel. Marvel has created the vibrant, majestic worlds of Thor‘s Asgard and Black Panther‘s Wakanda. It’s hard to imagine what went so wrong here.

Pfeiffer is the film’s brightest spot, as Janet becomes an unexpected action heroine. She knows the Quantum Realm, is infamous there, and is being hunted by someone so terrifying that his name isn’t even mentioned for half the film. He is Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), bent on escaping the Quantum Realm and destroying multiple worlds and timelines just because he can. Scott and his family need to stop Kang as well as save themselves, but there is no question about the villain’s survival because he has his own film, Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, scheduled for 2025. Here, he mostly glowers.

The forces of good and evil go back and forth – Kang employs hordes of soldiers with glowing blue helmets, like an army with blue lightbulbs for faces. Scott and Cassie get separated from the others. Everyone looks worried. There are flying vehicles and giant ants. But the action is stiff and the characters and one-note plot are crushed beneath the overload of CGI and dull special effects. You have to feel for the actors, who must have spent most of their time with green screens instead of each other. Rudd is as game as ever, but why bring Ant-Man into this if you’re not going to use his personality?


Directed by: Peyton Reed
Starring: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer
Film length: 2hr 5m

Bill Murray has a single scene as Lord Krylar, an amalgam of all droll Bill Murray characters. William Jackson Harper is wry as a sympathetic telepath, who unfortunately disappears for much of the film.

Kang is one of the variants of He Who Remains, introduced in the series Loki. Really, Marvel could have jumped straight from there to Kang Dynasty or The Kang Family Tree or Bringing Up Kang or whatever they want to get to. Creating Quantumania to get there was a waste.


Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is released in cinemas internationally on 17 February.

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