Review – Kang v Lang (“Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania”)

In case you were living under a rock, didn’t read the comic books, or the Disney+ series Loki, you’ve managed to miss the next big bad villain in the MCU. His name is Kang the Conqueror and this guy makes Thanos look tame by comparison!

*Some Spoilers Ahead!*

Set years after everyone became back from the ‘blip’, Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend, Hope VanDyne/The Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) are reunited with her parents, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Janet (Michelle Pfieffer), who was lost inside the Quantum Realm for 30 years. Scott is also happily back with his grown-up activist daughter, Cassie (Kathyrn Newton) who is also a total brain and invents a gizmo to communicate with the Quantum Realm. Oooo! Bad idea, there Cassie! Quicker than you can say, “Plot device”, someone from the QR ups and snatches the gang and brings them to the very weird and bizarre place where they’re separated. Scott and Cassie are captured by a renegade group of freedom fighters ruled by badass Jentorra (Katy O’Brian), her telepathic lieutenant, Quaz (Willam Jackson Harper), and a friendly gelatinous glob named Veb (David Dasmalchian).

Meanwhile, Hank, Janet, and Hope seek asylum & help from Lord Krylar (Bill Murray), Janet’s old shady friend. But, of course, it’s a trap and they gotta flee for their lives. Welp, there goes a 30-year-long friendship! Anywho, Scott & Cassie are finally captured by the ruling bad guy of the QR, Kang (Jonathan Majors), a twisted and evil ruler with god-like delusions who’s a variant that was banished by his other variants. Why? This madman wants to destroy the multi-verse! Bwa-ha-ha-ha! But in order to do this, he needs the power core to his ship that Janet exploded in size decades ago. And only Scott can make it small again! So much for being an ‘all-powerful’ variant, huh? Joining Kang in his mission is an old enemy of Scott’s, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), from the first Ant-Man movie, who’s been altered into a lethal man/machine hybrid called M.O.D.O.K.

Can Scott stop this conqueror from his plans of multi-versal domination? Will Cassie and dad reconcile their differences? How about all those ants, just where do they all fit in? And what about Bill Murray? If you come out of this movie thinking you’ve seen this story before, it’s because you have. So many times, in fact, from Lawrence of Arabia to Spartacus to every ‘the little guys fight against the bad ruler’ movie ever. First-time screenwriter Jeff Loveness (TV shows like Rick & Morty and Miracle Workers) must’ve seen them too, ’cause this movie copies them. It isn’t anything spectacular like the other MCU blockbusters, just an ordinary recycled plot using fantastic coincidences, lotsa deus ex machinas, and some truly eye-rolling moments.

Director Peyton Reed (the Ant-Man franchise) doesn’t miss a beat with his decent camera work and yes, the SPFX are truly eye-popping. But SPFX alone does not a great movie make. The dialogue is very fan-fictiony and occasionally sounds like a 14-year-old wrote it. The only good scenes are with Jonathan Majors as Kang. If you saw the Disney+ series, you already know how good this guy is. He’s cruel, calculating, and his line delivery is perfect. His too-few scenes with Pfeiffer’s Janet are worth it. Paul Rudd carries the movie effortlessly with his usual wit and charm and Newton, as the new Cassie, is delightful. Overall, it’s not a bad movie but it’s one you’ve seen a dozen times or more with no surprises or WTH moments. 

**Now showing in theaters only  

Flash Gordon (1980)

If you want some pure 80’s cheese with a side of fries, then this silly cinematic space opera is for you! Stunning SPFX (for their time), a host of colorful over-acting thespians, and a soundtrack by the rock group, Queen. Oh, did I mention the script is by the guy who created the campy 60’s Batman TV series?

Taking a page from the old 1936 Flash Gordon movie serials (which were from the comic strips), we see the evil Ming the Merciless (Max Von Sydow) on the planet Mongo who’s “playing” with the destruction of Earth (earthquakes, meteors, etc.) Only the disgraced scientist, Dr. Hans Zarkov (Topol), knows what’s going on and plans on rocketing to Mongo to stop it. Meanwhile, football player Gregory “Flash” Gordon (Sam Jones) and pretty travel agent, Dale Arden (Melody Anderson), accidentally meet the good doctor when their small plane crashes near his remote laboratory. Tricked (okay, threatened)into going, Flash and Dale accompany Hans to Mongo where they meet Ming and all his oppressed citizens, especially the warring Prince Barin (Timothy Dalton) and the winged Prince Vultan (Brian Blessed).

Ming immediately takes a lustful shine to Dale and captures her, while Flash is sentenced to die and Hans is brainwashed to serve Ming. Luckily, Ming’s horny daughter, Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) likes Flash and lets him escape with Prince Barin to their home forest world to test Flash’s bravery. Back at the palace, Ming is enthralled with Dale and wants to marry her, so Flash better hurry back and save her! Problem is, Flash has been captured by Prince Vultan and his army of Hawkmen who are at war with Prince Barin. After a fight, Flash convinces both Princes that they should turn their anger towards Ming, not each other, and a plan is hatched to save Dale and Hans, and take down Ming!

Yeah, it’s about as silly as it sounds with everyone playing it over-the-top. Written by the legendary Lorenzo Semple, jr (the Batman TV series, The Green Hornet TV series, 1976’s King Kong), it’s full of cartoony action, adventure, ridiculous dialogue, and lotsa of primary colors splashed across the screen. It’s pure cheesy fun with wild costuming that looks like a cosplayer’s dream come true. Sam Jones is Flash Gordon, so much so, that his legend carried over to the movies Ted and Ted 2 where he is worshipped for that past role! LOL! And give it up for Max Von Sydow with a bald head, a long Fu Manchu mustache, and wearing several wacky, outrageous, flamboyant costumes!

Although not a runaway blockbuster success, it gained a huge cult following and spawned comic books, pinball machines, novelizations, and even an Spcl Ed Blu-Ray with Jones and Anderson giving commentary. With critics praising the silliness and humor, it still managed to receive several Golden Raspberry Nominations. It’s always fun watch to see a piece of classic 80’s sci-fi cinema and this one is perfect. 

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