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The Movie Guru: ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ a more serious entry in the series

Feb 17, 2023 09:52AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell

Credit for photo ©Disney/Marvel

The ‘Ant-Man’ movies have grown up.

Thankfully, they managed to do it without losing the charm that’s always made the series so watchable. “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” is a scarier, more intense, and slightly sadder movie than the first two entries in the series, but it’s still very much an “Ant-Man” movie. The darker, weightier material is still threaded through with humor, quirkiness and a deep sense of family love. Because of that, it’s one of the best sequels the MCU has seen in years.

I don’t want to go too far beyond the spoilers already in the trailer, but I will put them in order. An experiment gone wrong sucks Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his family into the Quantum realm, which is very tiny and full of danger. The biggest danger comes from Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), a terrifying villain that first appeared in the “Loki” Disney+ series. (Thankfully, you don’t need to know anything about that appearance to appreciate this one.)

The stakes are a lot higher than Lang has ever faced, and the movie goes to a lot more intense places than previous entries. Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) gets some heavy reveals about her past, and the life of Lang’s daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) is in Kang’s hands. Rudd pulls off the wider range of emotions the script requires, but by extension there’s less room for humor.

Still, there are things to like about the change. Scott and Cassie get some particularly touching moments, giving us all the shadings of a superhero father-daughter relationship we haven’t seen anywhere else. Scott also gets some big superhero moments on a level we haven’t previously seen for a character, forcing him to reckon with who he is and what he believes in. Major’s Kang is deeply unsettling, commandingly dark in a way that simply wouldn’t have been possible with the series’ previous lighthearted tone.

Thankfully, the movie doesn’t lose its humor completely. M.O.D.O.K. may be the movie’s secondary villain, but he also has quite a few genuinely funny moments. Rudd still manages some nice lines, particularly with M.O.D.O.K., and the opening and closing sequences have a particularly wacky touch. Michael Douglas’s big heroic moment is offbeat in exactly the right way, and William Jackson Harper is fun as a particularly long-suffering telepath.

The world-building isn’t comprehensive enough to justify Marvel’s attempts to sell this as their “Star Wars,” but there are some interesting visuals. My favorite are the living ships and the sentient creatures in the specialty drinks, but you’re sure to find your own. Just let your eye wander and appreciate the details.

Sadly, Rudd and Douglas don’t get either of the post-credit scenes (though another Marvel fan-favorite pops up). Still, it’s great to see them back for another big screen outing.

Even if the series had to grow up a little to do it.

Grade: Three and a half stars

Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected].  

Credit for photo ©Disney/Marvel

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