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Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania Review | Bite-Sized Heroes, Endgame-Sized Misfire

The MCU follows up ‘Wakanda Forever’ with an overstuffed third ‘Ant-Man’ film.

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Due to the uptick in product and the decline of quality in the MCU, it’s hard to ignore that the franchise juggernaut has become almost joyless. Yes, we’ve still gotten some good movies (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) and some popcorn fun (Thor: Love and Thunder), but the franchise that began the mainstream fad of connecting various properties together has lost its way and sold its soul if you will. 

But despite how joyless the MCU can be, there’s always been one constant: the Ant-Man series. While I’m not a particularly big fan of the first film, the sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, remains one of my favorites in the entire MCU. The two films have bite-sized adventures and stakes but they also feature some of the best character work in the entire MCU. Maybe it’s Paul Rudd’s inherent likability that he brings to almost all of his roles, maybe it’s Michael Douglas having the time of his life while collecting his paycheck, or maybe it’s Peyton Reed‘s knack for the rom-com genre.

(L-R): Kathryn Newton as Cassandra “Cassie” Lang and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL.

That all changed with the kickoff of Phase 5, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which promised to take Scott Lang (Rudd) and his family out of their slice of San Francisco. It does, in fact, deliver on that promise, but maybe Quantumania chose the wrong bite-sized hero to set up reality-shattering stakes for the rest of the MCU that are hardly that. 

Scott Lang (Rudd) is living his best life post-Endgame. He’s a celebrity now, even if some confuse him as Spider-Man, who’s recognized in the streets and honored by the very Baskin-Robbins that fired him two movies ago. He even wrote a memoir and is doing the rounds reading portions of his book to the public.

But remember that adorable daughter he had from the first two movies, Cassie? She’s aged up now due to the whole blip shenanigans and is now played by Kathryn Newton. Cassie’s a troublemaker, but not in the traditional sense. She’s got to be one of the most authentic teenage social activists out there and like Dominik Mysterio, has spent hard time in the clink on a number of occasions as a result.

And what about the van Dyne family? Hope’s still with Scott while Hank (Douglas) and Janet (Pfeiffer) continue their relationship that was put on hold when the latter was in the Quantum Realm. 

Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Jonathan Majors as Kang the Conqueror in Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL.

But like that one erotic dancer in The Office wisely said, “secrets, secrets are no fun — secrets, secrets hurt someone,” and boy does Janet have quite the secrets. The only matters when Cassie, by way of an invention she constructed with the help of Hank and Hope and unbeknownst to Scott and Janet, traps them all in the Quantum Realm. This pits them against the conquerer, Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), to be exact. 

Again, it’s refreshing to at least be in the Quantum Realm, unlike some multiverse movies that promised madness, because we as the viewer are thrown in within 10 minutes. At least this MCU film can say that it didn’t bloat its runtime with unnecessary fluff, and I must admit — the visuals can oftentimes be entrancing.

I won’t knock the overworked VFX workers — though I saw the Sharkboy and Lavagirl comparisons on Twitter — and I can’t say that Quantumania doesn’t at least have some distinct visuals for an MCU movie. It’s oftentimes a cross between Coruscant from the Star Wars prequel movies and the lava lamp-like, psychedelic imagery in the world of Disney’s own Strange World with elements of Pandora. It’s not perfect — it can oftentimes be sensory overload — but one can appreciate that there’s some artistry here. 

(L-R): Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man in Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2022 MARVEL.

But some of those visuals are negated by so-so color grading. For all of the variety of colors, so much of the film is so dark and thus plain. It’s especially noticeable in Scott and Cassie’s scenes when they’re separated from the group and are in a darker area of the Quantum Realm. But one could look at the final battle, which is shown in the trailers, and also see how gosh darn bleak the whole film looks. Maybe it’s by design, but maybe it’s just not good. 

The plot itself relies upon the viewer being distracted by the pretty colors and unique character designs in the Quantum Realm. You see, Kang wants something from the Van Dynes, but the movie is positioned as a part-exposition dump, part cat-and-mouse game. There’s so much little action, which works in a more dramatically coherent film like Wakanda Forever, but can make Quantumania feel dull.

That’s not to say Quantumania needed three large set pieces shoved in. If the story didn’t call for more action, so be it. The biggest issue is that the first two acts are so clunky. Jeff Loveness‘ experience writing on Rick & Morty actually makes a lot of sense in hindsight — too bad the MCU only lets films be weird in the confines of its copy-paste template — and his script would’ve been better used by an auteur filmmaker and not Reed who has been stuck in the equivalent of the Quantum Realm for filmmakers, the MCU, for far too long since the days of Yes Man and The Break-Up.

Reed has the sensibilities for a rom-com, sure, but he’s never able to utilize that in Quantumania. We’ve already had the rom-com angle between Scott and Hope, and so his role seems nonexistent here. At least the Ant-Man trilogy has had one singular director — I believe only the Spider-Man trilogy can claim that — but he falls out of his element with a film of this magnitude.

And again, it’s just not weird enough. I don’t need Cronenberg-levels of weird — take your pick of which one I’m referring to — but the weirdest that Quantumnia will go is having the characters drink a goo that essentially serves as a Duolingo for the characters and then they can understand the characters instantaneously after drinking. But outside of that and a blob character — which we had just gotten in Strange World — there’s not nearly enough weird for a film taking place in the Quantum Realm.

Majors is a threatening presence and is good as Kang. Perhaps he’s slightly under-written, but his presence alone in his scenes makes him memorable. But one could wish that he was actually in the movie more seeing that he’s the big bad and all. There’s a lot of talk of him early on and not much of seeing him until halfway through Quantumania. However, his one action scene with Rudd brings a brutality rarely seen in the MCU and should excite anyone anticipating Creed III. That scene alone almost salvaged the first two acts and especially the third act battle that nearly made Black Adam‘s third act appear as if it had heaps of creativity.

Jonathan Majors as Kang The Conqueror in Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Photo by Jay Maidment. © 2022 MARVEL.

But on the opposite end of the spectrum, newcomer Newton has a monotonous debut as the new Cassie Lang. On one hand, the writing really did her no favors considering her main function in this film is an endless cycle of hers rearing up (pretty majorly, I might add), being captured and then escaping captivity. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. 

On the other hand, Newton rarely does anything convincing as Cassie. The writers clearly make it a point to remind you that this is indeed Cassie from the other films through her random exposition dumps mentioning events of the first two films. It just reeks of desperation to get us to love this character unlike we did Abby Ryder Fortson in the previous movies. 

It’s understandable to want to usher in an actor with more name recognition — Emma Fuhrmann played the character in Endgame — but when you’ve got a film starring the likes of Rudd, Lilly, Douglas, Pfeiffier and Majors, is it really necessary? Perhaps she’ll lead the Young Avengers or have a bigger role going forward. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. 

Rudd still has it as Scott Lang, but his whole character is beginning to feel stale. The once adorable character is stripped of his sidekicks and comic relief — more on this in a moment — and is largely sharing the screen with his daughter and in-laws. And let’s be honest, you can only use the joke of Scott being an Avenger so many times before it’s no longer funny. The MCU discovered gold with this bit and ran with it.

Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne/Wasp in Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.

Lilly’s role is so diminished, and whether it was due to certain controversies or not, she’s wasted in Quantumania. I truly believe Scott and Hope had a believable relationship that blossomed in the previous two Ant-Man films. In Quantumania, it’s almost like everyone outside of Majors and Pfeiffer is just going through the motions. Controversies aside, let’s not forget that Lilly is a good actress. The indie film South of Heaven is quite good and her best performance. But you would not know she was the second-billed star in this film considering how she’s utilized.

And Lilly’s not the only one who’s misused. As stated, Quantumania primarily takes place in the Quantum Realm, so we’re very limited with our time in San Francisco. But that means we are robbed of Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale as Maggie Lang, Scott’s ex-wife, and Paxton, her new partner. They were the comic relief of the previous two films and their presence was missed (at least Randall Park gets closure on his arc!). 

Most of this could have been forgiven if not for Quantumania’s biggest misfire, M.O.D.O.K. No spoilers here, but not since the Mandarin in Iron Man 3 has the MCU botched a character. To make matters worse, while Kang’s unquestionably evil, Quantumania once again falls into the trap of one of the MCU’s biggest eye-rolling tropes with this character.

Usually if you attach “mania” to the end of a word it makes it sound grand — just look at Wrestlemania) — but Quabtumania is hardly that. Credit is due for the artistry, but the story is severely underbaked and clunky and the performances largely feel phoned in (even by a Marvel movie’s standards). Like Magic Mike’s Last Dance just taught us, bigger isn’t always better. Sometimes a street-level hero with stakes as tall as his ant form is just fine as an escape from the grander scope of a money-making machine.


Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will be released in theaters on February 17. 

FILM RATING

Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

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Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

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Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

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Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

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Reviews

‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience

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We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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