QuantuMESS: Reviewing ‘Ant-Man 3’

Pruett Norris, Multimedia Editor

“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” dropped last weekend, kicking off Phase Five for Marvel Studios. “Quantumania” is the second sequel in the Ant-Man franchise, starring Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, the titular tiny hero, and Evangeline Lilly as Hope van Dyne, his partner the Wasp. 

In this installment, our bite-sized heroes are up against Marvel’s new big bad, Kang the Conqueror, played with show-stopping intensity by Jonathan Majors. They’re joined by newcomer Kathryn Newton as Scott’s daughter, Cassie, and returning Ant-Man veterans Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer as Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne, respectively. All these characters collide in the Quantum Realm, a microscopic world filled with kooky landscapes, crazy creatures and a very dangerous Kang.

The Ant-Man movies are typically smaller productions. The first one was predominantly a heist movie and the second was a comedic palette cleanser. Ant-Man has never been one for saving the world. Instead, he settles for saving San Francisco. 

The established lower stakes of the previous Ant-Man movies make “Quantumania” feel rocky from the start. In its third installment, the franchise makes a fast pivot from playing with Hot Wheels to wrestling with the fate of the multiverse, and the result is a disjointed mess.

“Quantumania” is set almost entirely in a CGI-landscape. The movie opens with a brief prologue about Scott’s life as a celebrity in the aftermath of Thanos’ invasion, narrated by a passage from his very real memoir. Within 15 minutes, Team Ant-Man has been shrunk down to Quantum-size. 

This is where the sci-fi kicks into high gear. The world of “Quantumania” is evocative of the alien planets of Star Wars. Characters with fluorescent skin, weird eyes and too many arms mingle among humanoids like Krylar, Bill Murray’s portrayal of a bureaucratic sleazeball. The backdrops are multicolored and vast, with weird shapes and sizes floating in space or erupting from the ground. The realm’s flora and fauna is especially unique and fun to behold. However, there’s a tactility missing from the sets of “Quantumania.” There isn’t a single background in the film that looks real. Many of the characters are entirely computer generated. Worst of all, the abilities of the Ant-Clan are the least interesting thing about the candy-colored world of their third adventure. 

In the first two films, the thrills of the fight scenes came from seeing real-world objects grow and shrink in unexpected ways. It was fun to see ants as big as a horse or Giant-Man loom out of the water in San Francisco Bay. When the items that are changing size are as ludicrous as the shrinking itself, the shock factor is lost. The best superhero films put the fantastical into reality and make the audience believe it. When the world is so obviously computer-generated, it’s impossible to create the same suspension of disbelief and “Quantumania” suffers from this greatly.

The sole exception is Kang the Conqueror. Jonathan Majors embodies the villain, from his measured and menacing delivery to his sheer physicality. His gravitas nearly overpowers every other performer onscreen, and when he’s absent from a scene, the movie suffers from it. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige remarks that he’s “always had the inkling that Kang would be an amazing follow-up to Thanos,” and from his first introduction Majors “started to pop in a big way.” 

“We’re going to make multiple movies around this character,” Feige said. “We thought Jonathan would be incredible … And spoiler: He was.”

It’s a shame that the movie doesn’t grow to meet him. There are fun moments in this “Quantumess” — Rudd has some great one-liners, secondary antagonist MODOK is a hoot and the designs of many of the Quantum creatures are good, silly fun — but overall, the movie amasses into cinematic sludge. If we ever see a fourth “Ant-Man” movie, here’s hoping the scale shrinks back to something a little more fun.


Rating: 2.5/5 Yosefs

Kaitlyn Close