A Rough Ride In The Quantum Realm

Almost all of “Quantumania” takes place in the Quantum Realm, which means that almost all of “Quantumania” is a computer-animated film with human actors placed in front of bluescreen and greenscreen. In the early going, the new MCU brand deposit seems to take its cues from the same pulp genre stories that inspired the recent Disney Animation title “Strange World” (no doubt a coincidence of timing), yet with a less impressive design and a less pleasing color palette. (While the film is being offered in 3D, advance screenings were in 2D. The visuals here would border on incomprehensible in 3D.) Scott, Cassie, Hope, Hank, and Janet are initially split up, with the erstwhile Ant-Man and his daughter learning about the motley group of displaced humans and other creatures who have banded together to fight against Kang, while Hope and her father gradually get a better sense from Janet about what actually happened to her in the Quantum Realm. (The latter plot allows for Hope and Hank to learn about a dalliance Janet had with a local bigwig named Krylar, played by Bill Murray as a riff on his lounge-singer character from “Saturday Night Live” that is as random and brief as it is sadly unfunny.)

Before Kang appears, there’s a great deal of portentous and enigmatic dialogue about “him” (and seeing as Kang is a heavy part of the marketing campaign, delaying his arrival is less impactful and more like stalling) and how powerfully scary “he” is. When we do meet this version of Kang — not the same as the flamboyant character introduced in the season finale of Disney+’s “Loki” series — he’s gravely serious and dour. The humor surrounding Kang is mostly bottled up in the form of a very unexpected character indeed, MODOK, played by Corey Stoll in a reprisal of sorts of his corporate villain from the first “Ant-Man.” MODOK, like Darren (because you surely remember that was the character’s name), is a jerk but now he’s imbued with powers to fight back against Scott and Cassie. Stoll is funny enough, especially when MODOK grapples with the prospect of not being a jerk (and in his perversely chipper re-introductions to the main group of heroes, who are all duly horrified). If there is a problem, it’s that MODOK, when we see Stoll’s stretched-out visage, is reminiscent of the CGI nightmare aliens from Disney’s flop “Mars Needs Moms.” MODOK isn’t supposed to look amazing, of course, but the design is fairly off-putting.

The sense of the visually unpleasant extends through much of “Quantumania.” While Scott and the others (sans Janet) are surprised to learn how much vaster the Quantum Realm was as opposed to their expectations, what’s presented never looks terribly distinctive, as much as some viewers may look at this assorted combination of seemingly heady colors and think it marks a new high in superhero storytelling. The previous snappiness of the other “Ant-Man” movies, which benefited from suitably smaller expectations, is absent, too; while there are scenes where Scott, Hope, and Cassie (who’s built herself a suit like her dad’s) increase and decrease in height to fight against Kang’s baddies, Reed’s direction doesn’t have the same punch and the fight scenes are mostly unremarkable.

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