Quantumania is a bit dull

I didn’t set out to watch the new Ant Man film but circumstances conspired to put me in a cinema. The promise of the film was a visual treat and there are certainly some vivid ideas on the screen. If I’d paid AU$20 for an art book of the concept pictures for this film and spent a couple of hours with my feet up enjoying it, that would have been nice I guess. I like films with interesting visual ideas but that wasn’t enough to keep the film going.

I also like those classic pulpy 70s adaptations of Edgar Rice Burroughs stuff with Doug McClure. If you tilt your head sideways a bit, this is basically an upscaled hollow-earth-style narrative. An eccentric inventor finds a way to a world contained within our own world and takes their plucky friends for a visit only to discover there are people down there and leads a rebellion to overthrow the baddies. Quantumania adds some layers on top of that story and 21st-century effects but it is almost basically that.

The previous Ant-Man films were thin but they had some decent visual jokes and a likeable sense of humour. There’s no Michael Peña this time and the film suffers for that. The comic relief comes from M.O.D.O.K. being a very pathetic person in reality but it is a very laboured joke.

Jonathon Majors is very good as the bad guy, which I don’t think is a spoiler to reveal is the recurring Avengers comic book villain Kang the Conqueror (or at least one version of Kang). He’s picking up from a different instance of the same character from the Loki series and if you saw him in that, he uses the same affable menace that transforms standard supervillain lines from pointless bragging into honest warnings. He’s a very strong addition to the MCU and the most interesting character here.

I was surprised by the film overtly stating that a society of intelligent technologically advanced ants was a positive example of socialism. Possibly, the first time that the revolutionary biological ideas of Peter Kropotkin have somehow manifested in a Disney film. I for one welcome our insect overlords comrades in the struggle against capital.

There are lots of good bits and it is a pretty film a lot of the time. Some nice creature design but I was reminded of Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets which was also very pretty and yet quite dull despite all that. I’m easily entertained by pretty pictures, so if my mind was wandering off through this, I can’t imagine how everybody else was faring. It needed more ants, more Kang and Michael Peña returning as Luis. Kang v Luis leading an army of anarcho-socialist ants, that would have been good.


24 responses to “Quantumania is a bit dull”

    • To be fair, that describes most of the previous four phases as well. They have all been excellent popcorn movies that vanish from the memory almost as soon as one walks out of the cinema (or turns off the tv.)
      I would stress that I am not saying this is a bad thing; it’s the popcorn movies that keep everything else afloat after all – or would, if Disney didn’t own everything that Warner doesn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s generally true, but there were movies in the earlier sequences that had plots that were more than pretty fluff. Black Panther, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, and a couple others. Many of the earlier movies had supporting characters that were memorable and made the world seem a little bit less empty: The first two Ant-Man movies had Luis and the rest of his crew, the Thor movies had Darcy and Selvig, and so on.

        Most of that seems to have been stripped out of the current phase of movies. I can’t think of a supporting character that matters in the current run, and I can’t think of a plot that is anything much more than “this villain dislikes this hero for intensely personal reasons”.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Well we did both suggest that there were going to be some that weren’t like that! I definitely agree that the Captain America movies were generally stronger than almost anything else in those early phases.
          And, of course, it doesn’t help that the most interesting stuff from the last few years (being “phase four”) was all happening in the various tv series rather than in the movies. I’m not sure that Disney/Marvel have quite gotten a handle on how to make that balance at all yet.


        • I can’t think of a plot that is anything much more than “this villain dislikes this hero for intensely personal reasons”.

          It’s like the NYT film critic A.O. Scott quipped about the first J.J. Adams Star Trek movie: “Doesn’t anyone want to destroy the Federation except to avenge their wives anymore?”


          • Scott is good at tossing off quips but he seems a little confused as to what the plot of that movie was. Nero’s wife died along with his entire planet and, having the advantage of future technology and time travel, he decided to take down the Federation to give the Romulans a leg up in this timeline, which (not being the brightest bulb) he assumed would somehow have helped them avoid their doom.

            I mean, I realize I’m nitpicking a joke in a New Yorker review, but I can’t help it, it’s a pet peeve for me that their critics tend to do this kind of “I’m so above this that I can’t be bothered to know what the story was” thing with genre movies in particular. It bugs me even when it’s a movie I don’t like (though I liked this one pretty well).

            Liked by 1 person

            • Sorry, A.O. Scott is indeed NY Times, not New Yorker. I don’t read Times reviews often enough to know whether what I said is accurate about their habits– I only I’ve seen that a lot in the NYer, where Anthony Lane and Richard Brody have written some really good criticism but are insufferable to me when they’re doing quippy putdowns of genre movies.

              Liked by 2 people

          • Similarly the Joker has no goal in life other than to hurt Batman. Nobody seems to grasp it makes him duller. Just because Kill the Hero works for Luthor doesn’t mean it’s how every villain should work.
            Winged Victory in Astro City has a comment in one story about how one of her old foes went from mad, ambitious plans (steal Fort Knox!) to being all about proving he’s better than her. She finds it sad.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Lex has one good point with the whole “Is a godlike being really who we want saving Metropolis/humanity, especially when dangerous bits of the galaxy follow him here?” as opposed to the Joker, who is just cray-cray.


        • “This villain dislikes this hero for intensely personal reasons” doesn’t resemble the plot of literally any of the Phase 4 Marvel movies. I’m not saying they all had especially great plots, but I’ve seen all of them and in no case did the villain have a personal thing against the hero(es) in particular. They were all about the villain either trying to achieve some grandiose goal of their own that the hero was incidentally in the way of, or that the hero unknowingly helped to make possible. I had to check because it seemed unlikely that what you mentioned wasn’t an accurate description of any of them– it’s a common enough form– but in this run, no.

          Liked by 1 person

        • As for reasonably memorable supporting characters, I would say Black Widow had two, Shang-Chi had one or two, Eternals had an indeterminate number, Spider-Man had the same ones it’s had all along… the rest not so much, although I liked David Dastmalchian’s most recent cameo way more than I can really justify.


    • I haven’t seen any of them in theaters since “Black Widow”, which is only partially because of Covid. I’ve got D+ a 65″ TV with surround sound, and my own popcorn and soda. And a pause button.

      And there are a number of them I haven’t even bothered to watch on said TV.

      The TV shows are better than the movies in this phase anyway — I liked all of them, loved many, except I didn’t see Moon Knight. Plus SHIELD and Agent Carter from the Before Times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marvel movies and their ilk are plane movies for me. If I’ve got 3+ hours to kill on a longhaul flight and access to a screen, I’ll blow a couple of hours on them. They don’t really require a lot of attention but are distracting enough to kill some otherwise relatively dead time. For anything I’m actually interested in I’ll head to the cinema or buy/rent/steal it and watch it on my tv at home.


  1. Much as I love Michael Peña, I think Michael Douglas is a big part of what makes the Ant-Man movies work as well as they do. I like Douglas best as a comic actor and his version Hank Pym has some of the same mix of cute/eccentric/abrasive qualities he used in Wonder Boys, but with an extra element of being a hyper-competent weird old guy with nothing to prove in a world of young heroes.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I really like the first two Ant Man movies, and still remember vividly nearly injuring myself laughing at Thomas the Tank Engine crashing out of the house. It’s the eyes that do it to me every time.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Since I’m already paying for D+ I shall catch it, then. Should be on in another month.

        Everyone said “meh” but Paul Rudd is always delightful, you don’t get better than Douglas and Pfieffer, plus Jonathan Majors as 1-n as n approaches infinity Kangs

        (I’m not going to look up how to type math symbols. It was all done by hand in my day. Pretend I’m drawing that on notebook paper!)

        Liked by 1 person

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