Very little to play with

Will Ferris
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Ant Man & The Wasp: Quantumania (12A, 124 Minutes)

If you take a trip to see a film about a character called Ant Man, you could be forgiven for assuming he would be a literal mix between an ant and a man. But there’s no freaky Kafkaesque transformation going on here. Instead, we have the Mrvel superhero who can’t seem to decide whether he’s going to be a comic book hero or a stand-up comic.

Opening ‘Phase 5’ of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, also part of the ‘Multiverse Saga’ – no, I don’t quite get it either and I’ve watched every MCU film from day one, but bare with – Quantumania follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he readapts to life and newfound success after the defeat of alien warlord Thanos, trying to make things right with neglected daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) whilst living happily with his girlfriend Hope (Evangeline Lilly).

Hope’s mother, Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) has only recently escaped from a lifetime imprisonment in a miniscule dimension, so imagine her shock when she discovers husband Hank (Michael Douglas) and Cassie have been building what they thought was a telescope but is instead a signal reaching deep into the Quantum Realm.

Unfortunately for them, the signal is received and they are all pulled into the void, forced to reunite and fight to stop the wrath of a time-traveling foe called Kang The Conqueror (Jonathan Majors).

There are flaws straight off the bat. Lang’s character may be a nice comic relief for the film’s duration, but it’s important for the character to know how to play funny and serious sensibly. But Lang’s dialogue is always so on the nose that he never manages to pull on the heartstrings during the film’s more tender moments.

The inclusion of partner Hope, or ‘The Wasp’, also feels entirely unnecessary given she has very little to say. You forget they’re even a couple.

Michelle Pfeiffer is a nice addition to the line up along with Michael Douglas and I’m sure their chemistry would work very well if they were given the chance, but the script simply doesn’t allow it, which is a shame and gives us the film’s main problem – a lack of risks within the writing as the MCU continues to flounder pot Endgame.

There are some really fun moments, but very little substance to provide any real shocks or twists, instead relying on an overdose of CGI.

Which brings us to the film’s saving grace. Jonathan Majors is terrific as Kang. Calm yet menacing. Emotionless, then full of rage in the space of a second. Don’t doubt that he could snap you in half with a click of his fingers.

Eagle eyed viewers will note that Majors previously played another version of the character in the TV series Loki – a time-keeper warning us about his many, alternate existences – “not every version of me was so pure of heart”.

This Kang is a ruthless Darth Vader figure obsessed with winning. Perhaps the scariest thing about him is where he comes from, and those he mixed with. As ever, make sure you stay until the end of the credits to see the true flex of Majors’ performance(s).

Whilst this film feels like filler (hasn’t everything since the great Black Widow?), it will be very interesting to see where the story goes next. But Marvel needs to stop lounging around and throw some grenades in the mix.

Blow us all away with something fresh, unexpected and exciting or risk sliding down a slippery slope towards failure.

This isn’t an awful film, but it’s by no means great either and that sseems to be the trend for the MCU lately.

RATING: 5/10