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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.



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. 


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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The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar Is Wes Anderson’s Delightful Take On Roald Dahl’s Sweet Story



Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in Roald Dahl's 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' (Netflix)

Roald Dahl and Wes Anderson have both left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of generations. Dahl’s timeless stories have enchanted readers for decades, while Anderson’s groundbreaking films have pushed the boundaries of cinematic storytelling. Their unique talents and shared appreciation for the power of literature have now converged in Anderson’s latest masterpiece, the modern short film adaptation of Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Anderson, known for his extraordinary attention to detail and distinctive visual style, brings Dahl’s adult-friendly tale to life in a truly captivating way. With a star-studded cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley, the film stays true to the author’s original text, with the actors delivering their lines directly from the page. This dedication to the literary essence of the story sets the stage for Anderson’s exceptional storytelling.

Dev Patel as Dr. Chatterjee, Sir Ben Kingsley as Imdad Khan and Richard Ayoade as Dr. Marshall in Roald Dahl’s The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Following his previous successful adaptation of Dahl’s work with the Oscar-nominated The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson is poised to once again captivate audiences with The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. In a mere 37 minutes, this short film manages to deliver a delightful and heartwarming experience that can beat any full-length feature film. The commitment and power of the A-list cast shine throughout, ensuring a resounding success on multiple levels.

From the very beginning, Fiennes embodies Dahl himself, narrating the tale as he seamlessly transitions between the comfort of his home and the picturesque outdoors.  By applying freeze-frame techniques and cleverly staged tableaus, Fiennes and his fellow actors walk through different sets that are magically transformed by on-screen “stagehands” right before our eyes. This dynamic interplay between reality and cunningness is a testament to Anderson’s growing fascination with the theatrical aspects of filmmaking.

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar not only captures the imaginative essence found in Dahl’s works but also showcases the filmmaker’s mastery of visual storytelling. Each scene is meticulously crafted, with Anderson’s staging drawing heavily on theatrical influences. Costume changes happen seamlessly on camera, resulting in Ben Kingsley’s Khan humorously questioning the whereabouts of his mustache. Furthermore, practical effects, including a delightful box trick, add to the mesmerizing experience of witnessing the film’s creation unfold before our eyes.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar and Ralph Fiennes as the policeman in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Anderson’s choice to create a short film rather than a feature-length production proves to be a stroke of genius. The pacing remains consistently engaging, ensuring that viewers remain captivated from start to finish. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is a visual feast, an entertaining experience, and, above all, a whole lot of fun.

When it comes to acting, it’s so hard to pick a standout because whenever an actor comes on the screen, he or she gives a performance that stays with you. Benedict Cumberbatch is magnetic in his portrayal of Henry Sugar and mesmerises you with a performance that shows his acting prowess. Ben Kingsley shows us why he is one of the greatest actors of all time. His monologues are truly special. Meanwhile, Dev Patel and Richard Ayoade are the magical new entrants in Anderson’s world of magical stories. Both of them are brilliant in their respective roles.

On the other hand, Ralph Fiennes showcases his versatility by embodying Roald Dahl in the most fantastic way possible.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Henry Sugar in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Cr. Netflix ©2023

Roald Dahl’s rich storytelling finds new life through Wes Anderson’s innovative cinematic techniques. Their creative collaboration results in a short film that is visually pleasing, emotionally compelling, and brimming with the charm and magic that have made both artists legends in their respective fields. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is not to be missed, as it brings together the best of Dahl and Anderson, leaving audiences enraptured by its undeniable allure. Experience this enchanting journey, and let yourself be swept away by the power of imagination.

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Expendables 4 Movie Review | Explosive & Funny!



Expendables 4 (Lionsgate Movies)

The following piece was written during the 2023 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie material being covered here wouldn’t exist.


A new generation of stars join the world’s top action stars for an adrenaline-fueled adventure in Expend4bles. Reuniting as the team of elite mercenaries, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, and Sylvester Stallone are joined for the first time by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia. Armed with every weapon they can get their hands on and the skills to use them, The Expendables are the world’s last line of defense and the team that gets called when all other options are off the table. But new team members with new styles and tactics are going to give “new blood” a whole new meaning.

Iko Uwais as Suarto Rahmat (Lionsgate Movies)

The Expendables Film Series

I highly recommend catching up on the other movies in the Expendables film series.

Expendables 1 (2010)

The only life they’ve known is war. The only loyalty they have is to each other. They are the Expendables: leader and mastermind Barney Ross (Stallone), former SAS blade expert Lee Christmas (Statham), hand-to-hand combat specialist Yin Yang (Li), long barrel weapons specialist Hale Caesar (Crews), demolitions expert Toll Road (Couture), and precision sniper Gunnar Jensen (Lundgren). Living life in the fringes of the law, these hardened mercenaries take on what appears to be a routine assignment: a covert, CIA-funded operation to infiltrate the South American country of Vilena and overthrow its ruthless dictator General Garza (David Zayas). But when their job is revealed to be a suicide mission, the men are faced with a deadly choice, one that might redeem their souls or destroy their brotherhood forever.

The Expendables Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 2

Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), Lee Christmas (Jason Statham), Yin Yang (Jet Li), Gunnar Jensen (Dolph Lundgren),Toll Road (Randy Couture) and Hale Caesar (Terry Crews) — with newest members Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth) and Maggie (Yu Nan) aboard — are reunited when Mr. Church (Bruce Willis) enlists the Expendables to take on a seemingly simple job. The task looks like an easy paycheck for Barney and his band of old-school mercenaries. But when things go wrong and one of their own is viciously killed, the Expendables are compelled to seek revenge in hostile territory where the odds are stacked against them. Hell-bent on payback, the crew cuts a swath of destruction through opposing forces, wreaking havoc and shutting down an unexpected threat in the nick of time — six tons of weapons-grade plutonium; enough to change the balance of power in the world. But that’s nothing compared to the justice they serve against the villainous adversary who savagely murdered their brother. That is done the Expendables way….

The Expendables 2 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 3 (2014)

In The Expendables 3, Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham) and the rest of the team comes face-to-face with Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), who years ago co-founded The Expendables with Barney. Stonebanks subsequently became a ruthless arms trader and someone who Barney was forced to kill… or so he thought. In order to defeat Stonebanks, Barney decides that he has to fight old blood with new blood, and brings in a new era of Expendables team members, recruiting individuals who are younger, faster and more tech-savvy. The latest mission becomes a clash of classic old-school style versus high-tech expertise in the Expendables’ most personal battle yet.

The Expendables 3 Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

Movie Review

Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture and Sylvester Stallone bring the explosive energy needed to give us an explosive performance on-screen. The new members, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Megan Fox, Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Jacob Scipio, Levy Tran, and Andy Garcia bring in a breath of fresh air with new attitude and fighting styles to keep us entertained. This movie is the fourth in the Expendable film series, but there is definitely no clear link between this movie and the prequels. Each movie in essence is a new mission and Expendables 4 can be watched without watching the previous movies. I suggest watching the previous three movies to experience the explosive action that you get when you combine our favorite action heroes.

Sylvester Stallone as Barney Ross, leader of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

Expendables 4 was great and delivered yet another action-packed mission filled with awesome fights, humor, cultural references and explosions. However, it wasn’t difficult to spot the main villain and there aren’t much surprises in terms of the new action stars who join this mission.

The movie starts us off with the Expendables in a race against time to retrieve nuclear warheads, but the mission goes south and instead of sticking to orders, one of the soldiers attempt to save his team member instead, which results in a failed mission and a casualty. The story follows the combination of accomplishing the mission while delivering a can of revenge-based whoop-ass. The last fight isn’t as explosive as the cast but still manages to deliver a plot-twist finale.

Megan Fox, Andy Garcia & Jacob Scipio, some of the newest members of the Expendables (Lionsgate Movies)

A future sequel should really consider a completely new group pick up the baton and leave us in suspense as to who the new heroes and villains could be. I love a good surprise with a side of plot twist in any movie.

There is no post-credits scene, so no need to wait till the very end. The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the plot twists you can expect from the movie. Overall, my rating for Expendables 4 is a 3.5 out of 5.

Make sure to watch at a cinema near you!

Expend4bles Official Trailer (Lionsgate Movies)

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Sung Kang’s ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a Campy Horror-Comedy With Superb Performances



Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen in 'Shaky Shivers' (Cineverse)

If you thought that Sung Kang can only thrill you with amazing car stunts, then you are wrong. The acclaimed star is set to take you on an entertaining ride with his directorial debut titled ‘Shaky Shivers’.

The latest horror-comedy film marks the feature directorial debut of Sung Kang, renowned for his roles in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise and several other big projects. The movie stars Brooke Markham and VyVy Nguyen, with an ensemble cast including Jimmy Bellinger, Erin Daniels, and Herschel Sparber.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

From the very beginning, ‘Shaky Shivers’ grabs hold of your attention with the comedic chemistry between lead actresses Brooke Markham (Lucy) and VyVy Nguyen (Karen). Their hilarious banter and dynamic friendship draw you into their world of magic, mayhem, and monstrous encounters. While a few other characters make appearances, the heart of the film rests on the shoulders of Karen and Lucy, whose relatable and believable friendship makes the story even more bewitching.

One of the best aspects of the film is how Sung Kang skillfully directs the title despite limited cast and limited settings. It still manages to keep audiences engaged and entertained. Kang also pays homage to classic horror films like ‘American Werewolf in London’ and injects fresh energy into the scenes while showcasing his comedic flair.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

If you are one of those who enjoy unapologetically goofy and fun movies, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is undoubtedly a fun watch. Embracing its campiness, the film doesn’t try to be anything other than an enjoyable ride filled with supernatural elements. The characters have a helpful book of spells that they use to solve problems, which adds a clever and funny element to the story that will make you laugh..

While categorized as a horror-comedy, ‘Shaky Shivers’ leans more towards comedy than horror. However, don’t worry, as the supernatural beings like werewolves, zombies, and witches make their presence known throughout. The practical effects and impressive monster makeup, reminiscent of old-school horror flicks from the 70s and 80s, immerse you in a world of creatures and enchantment.

A still from ‘Shaky Shivers’ (Cineverse)

The plot of ‘Shaky Shivers’ escalates in an exciting and compelling manner, filled with unpredictable twists and goofy surprises.  While it may not leave you terrified, the perfect blend of supernatural ambiance and comedic moments guarantees plenty of laughter and enjoyment.

In conclusion, ‘Shaky Shivers’ is a must-watch horror-comedy that delivers on laughs, friendship, and supernatural encounters. With its engaging storyline, talented cast, and Sung Kang’s impressive directorial debut, the film is a delightful addition to the genre. So grab a large tub of popcorn and take your family for this fun-filled ride.

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