|as an over-serious, computer generated mess that's far removed from Paul Rudd's first comic outing as the shrinking super-hero
|Paul Rudd, Bill Murray, Corey Stoll, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors, Kathryn Newton, Katy M O'Brian, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Jackson Harper
|17th February 2023
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is on a book tour, promoting his auto-biography, which describes how his life changed when he acquired super-hero powers that he started to use to help members of the public.
His teenaged daughter Cassie (Kathryn Newton) has become a bit of a political activist and needs to be bailed out of jail. Scott and his girlfriend Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) take Cassie to Hope’s parents’ place for dinner, where she shows them that she’s been working on a device which can communicate with the miniscule Quantum Realm.
Hope’s mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) has been there and hasn’t told her husband Hank (Michael Douglas) about the dangers lurking there that she’d rather avoid – but it’s too late – all five of them are sucked into the Quantum Realm.
Janet was once trapped down there with the Kang (Jonathan Majors), who went on to rule the realm with a ruthlessness befitting an evil super-villain, itching to escape to wreak havoc on the world beyond.
Kang sees his chance to get use Scott, Cassie, Hope, Janet and Hank to rebuild the energy core that can set him loose on the wider universe.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Goodness – how a franchise can change. In the first film, very much set in the real-world, a petty criminal rehabilitated himself by helping a mad scientist protect the world from a megalomaniac, in a comedy that didn’t require any knowledge of Marvel’s cinematic universe.
The second film remained entertaining, but became more of an in-experience for Marvel-fans.
Exposition, built around Scott Lang’s book tour, allows people unfamiliar with previous films entry into this one, but almost immediately, viewers are sucked into a world that will make almost no sense to anyone.
Rather than feeling like a super-hero film, with one or two characters blessed with super-powers saving regular people like you and me from megalomaniac uber villains – this feels like a sci-fi; we’re in an unfamiliar world, populated by characters from a multitude of weird and wonderful alien species, as our protagonists try to escape back to the reality we know and understand. In many ways, this feels like it would fit much better into Disney’s Star Wars universe than its Marvel one.
The intention may well be to link this forward to future films – but as a standalone film, this is a hopeless mess that has eschewed all that worked so well about the earlier films – the first one in particular. Paul Rudd gets to do his comedy, but not enough of it. It’s set in a world that means we can’t identify with. Because there’s no logic to this world, it’s impossible for viewers to try to work out where the narrative might be going.
And because everything that’s going on is largely so random, the special effects lose their impact as what we see is probably exactly what you’d expect to see in the Quantum Realm anyway; seeing someone shrink to the size of an ant or grow to the size of a skyscraper in our own world means something – seeing buildings flying around in a computer generated wasteland doesn’t.
“Kang will return” you’ll find out, if you can be bothered to wait until the very end – not just the middle – of the end credits. But this is unlikely to excite anyone other than the most ardent Disney+ subscribers and Marvel comics geeks. For anyone else, it’s probably time to have another watch of Rudd’s first outing in the ant-suit and give up on Marvel’s expanded universe altogether.