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High on QuANTity but low on quality – Beyond Bollywood

Probably the most disappointing Marvel film of recent times. Director Peyton Reed’s attempt to take Ant-man into a Guardians of the Galaxy-like space stings him and the audience badly.

Rating: 1.5 / 5

By Mayur Lookhar

His heroism in Avengers: Endgame [2019] has helped him acquire celebrity status. Scott Lang/Ant-Man [Paul Rudd] has even penned his autobiography. Lang looks uncomfortable with the limelight. He is simply happy though to have his family besides him. Despite his heroism, Ant-Man is bit of an underrated super hero vis-à-vis the other marquee Avengers.  The aged employee at a nearby eatery mistook him for Spider-Man. Phew, Spider-Man pops out of our mouth too. The humble ant often gets stuck in a spider’s web.

It’s been near six years since the last Ant-Man movie. Add two and half years of Covid-19, and these six years felt like a crawl.  Honestly, we could barely remember events from the second film – Ant-man and the Wasp [2018]. We just recall Ant-Man, Hank Pym [Michael Douglas] bringing the latter’s wife Janet [Michelle Pfeiffer] back from the Quantum realm after 30 years.

Forward to 2023 and the joy is short lived for Janet who is back in the abyss. She’s isn’t alone this time as Hank, Scott Lang, Hope van Dyne [Evangeline Lilly] and young Cassie [Kathryn Newton] get sucked into the Quantum realm. All because Cassie, now a teenaged girl, had developed a tech that sends signals to the Quantum realm. Once inside, the family are separated, Scott encounters a familiar foe, who now goes by the name of MODAK. But there is a new and much bigger threat awaiting him, and the entire universe.  

It appears that resident director Peyton Reed, and writer Jeff Loveness, who makes his Marvel debut, have tried taking Ant-Man into a Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor-like space.  When in space, they come in all shapes and sizes. Damn there is even a walking talking broccoli in suit. What else do you expect when your protagonists are Ant-Man and Wasp! Despite fine visual effects, Reed and Loveness’ quantum realm is anything but captivating.

The laboured plot and the average screenplay seldom builds any engagement. Rudd, Lilly, Douglas, all appear to be simply going through the motions. Young Kathryn Newton steps into the Marvel franchise as Cassie, the now grown-up daughter of Scott and Evangeline. The woman has a fine screen presence. Newton is sincere in her dialogue delivery, but lacks the requisite intensity in action.

The fatigue was visible in the previous film, but it was largely the wit and charm of Paul Rudd that carried Ant-Man and the Wasp [2018].  Quantumania presents Ant-Man in large quantity but it lacks quality. Rudd stills pulls in all his stealth and might, but the poor script was always going to make it a hard challenge. After the early humour, when the leading humans are still on earth, Quantumania heads into a dull space territory. Janet meeting with an old friend Lord Krylar [Bill Murray] does makes Hank uneasy and it draws a few laughs, but there is nothing else to be amused here.

A big part of the problem for Quantumania is the lack of a truly intimidating antagonist. Though billed as the next big villain, Kang, the conqueror flatters to deceive. Let’s just say that this big super villain is a ‘major’ disappointment. Michelle Pfeiffer would give him/her a ‘Major’ run for her money in this ham fest.

Such ‘space’ wars often baffle as to how virtually every designer henchman can’t even hold any protagonist as a prisoner for even two-minutes. For all that fancy suit/look, gadgets, they are simply swatted like flies.

Evangeline Lilly has new haircut that goes well with the Wasp look.  Beyond it, there isn’t much to rave about her or the character.

Post the Avengers era, Marvel has done well to stay more than relevant with a few series – Wanda Vision [2021], The Falcon and the Winter Soldier [2021]. Even the feature Morbius [2022] had its appeal. However, the other theatrical releases during this period have failed to live up to the hype.

A Marvel film will always be high on optics but the substance has gone missing in the recent Marvel theatrical releases. Quantumania is arguably the most disappointing of the lot. Perhaps, it’s time that Mungi (Ant) Man puts a halt to his long crawl.  The Ant-man needs to rest his legs and sip some ANTiquity Blue. Pure pun, no surrogate promotion.

Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania [2023] is set to be released in theatres worldwide on 17 February [2023].

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