Director: Peyton Reed
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Jonathan Majors, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michael Douglas, Kathryn Newton, David Dastmalchian, Katy O'Brian, William Jackson Harper, Bill Murray
Runtime: 2 hrs 5 mins
Rating: PG (Some Violence)
Released By: Walt Disney
Opening Day: 16 February 2023
Synopsis: Super Heroes Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) return to continue their adventures as Ant-Man and The Wasp. Together, with Hope’s parents Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Scott’s daughter Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), the family finds themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that will push them beyond the limits of what they thought possible.
And so, Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) begins. Branded as part of The Multiverse Saga, it’s supposed to send chills down our spine by introducing the next big baddie in the series. This is none other than Kang the Conqueror, another fan favourite who is capable of travelling across timelines and doing very, very bad things.
Can this heavy responsibility lie on the shoulders of tiny Ant-Man, the Avenger that brought us some of the best good natured laughs in the franchise?
Ant-Man (2015) and its sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) were fun to watch, thanks to lead actor Paul Rudd’s extremely likeable persona, as well as the innovative scenarios Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man) were put in. The two movies worked well as standalone titles, and the filmmakers behind the projects probably didn’t have the pressure of incorporating dramatic and emotional moments that will cause a big impact in the MCU.
Peyton Reed returns as director for this third Ant-Man movie, and he might have been briefed by the studio executives that that it can’t be as goofy as the first two instalments. Imagine your paymaster telling you: “The movie cannot be too funny, because Kang is out to destroy the world with all his cruelness and nastiness. Cut down the jokes. Make things more serious and intense.”
With that, the 31st movie of the MCU feels like a very measured piece of entertainment. Rudd is still very relatable, and he makes you feel that an everyday man can become an Avenger. Evangeline Lilly, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas return as Hope van Dyne, Janet van Dyne and Hank Pym. Together with Kathryn Newton’s Cassie Lang, the family is thrown into the mysterious Quantum Realm where they face Jonathan Majors’ Kang. Corey Stoll also reprises his role from the first movie. His frustrated antagonist is reborn as M.O.D.O.K., and the ridiculously designed villain is largely played for laughs.
In the Quantum Realm, the heroes also meet freedom fighters and rebels who are passionate about overthrowing a certain conqueror - you wonder whether there is a Star Wars plot unfolding? There are strange looking aliens (case in point: look out for a talking broccoli) and these trippy character designs are probably from the brilliant mind of writer Jeff Loveness, who has worked on the outrageously weird sci-fi animated series Rick and Morty.
Pfeiffer and Douglas are as reliable as ever when it comes to delivering commendable performances. The standout here is Majors (the 33 year old actor will next be seen in Creed III, where he will have a showdown with Michael B Jordan, who portrayed another MCU villain Killmonger), Hollywood’s next big star to look out for. While watching the 124 minute movie, you can’t be sure what Kang is up to or what exactly he wants. But the villain’s mysteriously seductive persona makes you feel uneasy, and Majors does a good job ensuring viewers that something terrible is going to happen when Kang wreaks havoc in the MCU.
So where does that leave Ant-Man? The superhero is forced to be part of a serious drama, and he tries his best to keep up. While there are occasional jokes that make you chuckle, you may miss the lightheartedness that made the first two movies a breeze to sit through. If you aren’t expecting a spectacular Marvel movie to blow you away, this is still a decent and pleasant ride. That aside, we are looking forward to what Phase Five of the MCU has in store for fans.
(We miss Ant-Man's goofy charm, but can't wait to see how Kang the Conqueror is going to wreak havoc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Review by John Li