“ANT-MAN AND THE WASP: QUANTUMANIA”
Starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer
Written by Jeff Loveless
Based on characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Directed by Peyton Reed
Produced by Kevin Feige and Stephen Broussard

By Matt Neufeld
Feb. 17, 2023

It’s been said many times in many ways by many people in many forums–including the high-level boardrooms, back rooms, conference rooms and meeting rooms of many film industry studios and production companies–but it just needs to be said yet again: It is too far past the time for Disney, Marvel Studios, Warner Bros. Discovery, Warner Bros. and DC Studios to put a stop, a hold, and a long break to this distressingly continuously increasingly horrendous stream of increasingly mediocre and below-average moronic comic book superhero movies.

Just….give…..it….a……rest. For Zeus’ sake, please just put a stop to this sad parade of embarrassing assembly line, cookie cutter, formulaic, cliched, carbon copy—-yes, CARBON COPY–unoriginal, boring, clanging, clunking, mind-numbing smelly stream of comic book superhero movies that do indeed read and sound and appear up on the screen as sorry, sad, desperate retreads designed not to provoke scholarly intelligent thought, reflection, discussion and analysis, but rather to con people into movie theater seats and to sell mountains of cheap, worthless and bland merchandise that’s as plastic as the movies themselves.

Or, briefly, and, yes, it’s in all-caps: ENOUGH ALREADY!

And, before you say it or think it, this is not just the opinion of some film critics. Far from it. As noted above, people in Hollywood; respected film industry professionals, producers, directors, writers and actors; diehard comic book superhero fans; casual film fans; sci-fi fans; investors, financial observers and financial advisors; and the general filmgoing public have all cried out in unison, for years now, with the same plea about these movies: ENOUGH ALREADY!

And the barrage has continued with enough fervor that you’d think that the clueless, seemingly-brain-dead studio suits would take notice. Yet they continue to green-light these increasingly crappy movies. Why?! It can’t be the money–numerous comic book movies have bombed, flopped and landed in theaters with big, fat, huge thuds in recent years, and it’s not just because of that pesky virus pandemic. It’s because the movie’s have generally been awful.

Meanwhile, Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery have fired thousands of employees amid drastic budget cuts in recent years. Which raises the serious question: What the holy hell did these studios do with the billions of dollars that they allegedly made off of all of these previous comic book movies that logged literally billions of dollars in box office profits? If you’re a major movie studio and you release scores of huge, profitable movies that make billions of dollars, then you shouldn’t be firing decent, innocent hard-working people who are just trying to pay the bills.

So what is it that compels these insane studios to continue to projectile-vomit out these moronic middling mediocre movies? Perhaps it’s that other dangerous infectious disease that’s affected film and television studios for too many years now: sequelitis. You know, that horrendous disease that’s given the world thirteen “Halloween” movies; seven “Predator” movies; nine “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movies; nine “Saw” movies; eight “Chucky” movies; four “Ghostbusters” movies; ten “Fast and Furious” movies–TEN, I’M TELLING YOU!; a “Grease” sequel; and, just as horrifying and terrifying, thirty-one Disney/Marvel comic book superhero movies during just the last fifteen years, since 2008.

Yes, that’s THIRTY-ONE COMIC BOOK SUPERHERO MOVIES SINCE 2008. Yes, that’s in all-caps. And that’s just from the evil, dastardly, scheming, dark DisneyMarvelverse. It’s too late in the day to get into the seemingly endless and non-seemingly insane sad parade of crummy comic book superhero movies from the increasingly wayward DC Studios. That’s a sorrowful lament for another day–possibly when the next crummy DC Studiosverse movie is released.

So what prompts this latest analysis of the generally sorry, sad, depressing and desperate state of the movie industry? Alas, the scheduled Feb. 17, 2023, nationwide wide release of the latest DisneyMarvelverse horrendous–and, yes, embarrassing–flopdud major disappointment, the wholly below-average, muddled, confused, scatterbrained, wayward, cliched, unoriginal and mind-numbingly over-done and over-everythinged “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”

Please: Save yourself the time, money, energy and resources and avoid wasting your precious weekend with this bombastic barrage of barren bravado. It’s simply not worth it, as “Quantumania” is truly poorly produced, directed, written and acted. There’s plenty of blame to go all around.

This is actually the third–the third, I’m telling you!–“Ant-Man” movie. There simply didn’t need to be three “Ant-Man” movies. The first film in the series, 2015’s “Ant-Man”–like so many other first-in-the-series, origin-story movies–was actually pretty good–funny, smart, original and entertaining. Just like the first “Dr. Strange,” the first “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the first “Iron Man,” the first “Wonder Woman,” Sam Raimi’s first “Spider-Man,” and several other origin story comic book movies. These were all great, fun, well-made films. See–we’re not cranky about the entire genre. Just the rip-off retreads.

However good “Ant-Man” was, that spirit has been quickly played out with 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and this year’s “Quantumania.”.

This third film in the series, again, just fails at all levels.

The writing, story, plot, dialogue and characterizations just never gell, come together or inspire any intense interest. The story and plot are wafer-thin. The dialogue is clunky, stilted, unimaginative and at times just annoying, irritating and uncomfortable. There are scenes where the characters don’t quite, like, you know, exactly talk like normal human beings, but rather like despondent, morose, immature geeks and nerds who simply cannot communicate or act like intelligent people. And that’s not fun or fun ybor appealing here—-it’s annoying.

The plot is strangely threadbare: Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man; his wife, Janet van Dyne; the new Ant-Man, Scott Lang; the Wasp, Hope van Dyne; and Scott’s annoying, irritating and screechy sub-millennial daughter Cassie Lang are sucked into a portal device to an area known as the Quantum Realm. Once there, they’re separated somehow; they try to find each other, somehow; they meet up with some revolutionaries, filled with creatures and things whose similar appearances were tired and cliched the minute the bar scene ended in “Satr Wars” in 1977; they discover some secrets withheld by Janet that in any world–real life or comic book or fantastical–one would think she would have revealed instantly ages ago; and of course they all end up fighting some evil dark overlord with crazy powerful powers and whose lame threats to destroy the universe were tired and cliched the moment after the first scene with any similar evil dark overlord threatening to take over the universe in a thousand, nay, five thousand previous movies, television shows, books and comic books.

Just what is it with these evil dark overlords and their constant crazed loony goofball scheming schemes to kill everybody and take over the universe? Maybe they had an unhappy childhood. Maybe they need to get a cat or a dog. Maybe they need to eat more ice cream. Or drink more whiskey. Or get a girlfriend. Maybe they just yearn for their childhood sled.

The casting is off in “Quantumania.”

Kathryn Newton, although pretty and youthful, is sorely, strangely and completely miscast as the annoying Cassie. Evangeline Lilly, sporting a wholly unattractive, military-style, too-short, unappealing haircut, barely registers as Hope. And Jonathan Majors is embarrassingly, horribly miscast as the evil dark overlord, Kang the Conqueror—yes, the character’s name is actually Kang the Conqueror. Majors is bland, unappealing, non-scary, hesitant, strangely non-energetic, and he mumbles his lines like Don Vito Corleone on Quaaludes. His Kang is one of the most disappointing villains since Russell Crowe’s embarrassing cameo as a bloated, goofy Zeus in the flopdud “Thor: Love and Thunder.”

And what, exactly, are the extremely talented and likeable Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer doing in these movies? Rudd’s and Pfeiffer’s characters are oddly underwritten in “Quantumania,” and Douglas, while still giving his usual strong performance, is the only person here who stands out as an accomplished actor. His Hank Pym is really the core foundation of these movies, and Douglas delivers that standing and gravitas with his usual energy. Yet, even with that said, half of the time Pym and Douglas appear lost, dazed and confused, as if the character and the actor are wondering, “What the hell am I doing here?”

If you venture out to this movie mistake, you’ll be asking yourself the same question.

Even a weird, awkward, entirely unfunny cameo by Bill Murray doesn’t work in this movie. Murray is not funny, his character is not funny, his character is an idiot, and well, there’s no real reason for Bill Murray to be here, either. This movie is usually the type of sordid affair that Murray satirizes, makes fun of, and drives into the ground–not participates in.

The special effects are indeed astounding, exemplary and excellent. Kudos and congrats to the hundreds of special effects artists and their respective companies for their entertaining work here. However, as so often occurs in these comic book movies, not even millions of dollars of special effects can save the rest of the destruction falling apart all around them.

Everyone knows that the likeable, youthful, down-to-earth and wonderfully grounded and talented Paul Rudd is a good comic and dramatic actor and that he’s just good people. It’s no fun to deliver a negative review about anything associated with nice, well-respected guys like Paul Rudd. But even the best of us sometimes end up in clunker projects that looked good on paper, no matter what industry you work in. We all learn from our mistakes. Rudd should learn from this mistake, take a few steps back, and give Scott Lang a nice, long rest.

And, just in case the studio and production company suits forgot this lesson: the same advice applies to you, too.

And guess what? Here’s the headline on a top story that moved in The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023–the same day that this review was written: “How Much Is Too Much Marvel and ‘Star Wars’? Disney Rethinks Franchise Output.” The ensuing story describes how Disney officials plan to scale down their output of franchise movies–including scaling down the studio’s output of Marvel comic book superhero movies. Yes, really. Honest.

Finally! Thank you! For once, finally, the studio suits, and the gods, seem to be listening to reality. Thank you, Bob Iger. And thank you, Zeus.

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Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld

Matt Neufeld is a longtime journalist, actor and film critic in the Washington and Baltimore areas. He has participated in many local film events and projects in the region, and he has appeared as an actor, supporting actor and extra in more than 45 films projects, at all levels, during the past 20 years.