With a cumbersome title and promises of storylines to come, Phase Five of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicks off with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. Although critics and audiences have begun to show franchise fatigue when it comes to the MCU, die-hard fans will likely find plenty to love. Although I have watched all of the films and TV shows, I wouldn’t consider myself anywhere close to a fan of Marvel entertainment, so I can relate to much of the criticism placed on recent films. On the other hand, I go into these movies with very low expectations. This is junk food cinema (even calling it cinema may be a stretch, as Martin Scorsese has argued), but this also may be exactly what some audiences long for after sitting through the high-brow releases of award season. And if you are going for pure immersive entertainment, ScreenX is a fun option for ways to experience Quantumania.
Former convict turned Avenger Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) returns for the third Ant-Man movie, and fifth appearance as the superhero with the ability to change his size with the use of a high-tech suit designed by scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas). The last time we saw Lang he was helping to save the world, but at the beginning of Quantumania he is living a quieter life, promoting his new book, Look Out for the Little Guy. Lang is also making an effort to spend more time with his daughter Cassie (now played by Kathryn Newton, the third actress to step into the role), which is why he is shocked that she has begun to follow in his footsteps.
Along with having her own suit to match the one Lang uses to be Ant-Man and the one Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) has to become Wasp, Cassie has created a piece of tech to map out the quantum realm. This upsets Hope’s mother Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who spent 30 years trapped in the realm. Although she attempts to turn the tech off, it inexplicably sucks the entire group into the Quantum Realm, where they face obstacles in their attempt to get home, the most formidable being Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), who was first introduced in the finale of the Disney+ show Loki.
While it is exciting to see the introduction of Kang into the Marvel movies, primarily because of the committed performance from Majors, there are more promises for what he will do in the future than there is anything noteworthy in this particular film. The motivations of the time-traveling villain remain elusive and neither he nor Lang undergo much character development over the course of the spectacle-filled Ant-Man sequel. There are plenty of jokes and CGI effects and world building, the latter clearly drawing inspiration from the Star Wars franchise, but it all feels rather inconsequential. That isn’t to say there isn’t entertainment to be found, but those hoping for deeper themes or a clear development of the MCU trajectory may be disappointed. Like many of the Marvel movies, Quantumania mostly feels like a feature-length trailer for the next MCU release, complete with post-credit scenes to tease what is coming next.
Given the fact that a large percentage of enjoyment in the latest Ant-Man movie comes from the spectacle and world building within the Quantum Realm, it makes sense to see the film in the most immersive format possible. There is also the option of Imax for a large screen or 3D for those who found their interest revived after the new Avatar movie. But for those who want an immersive experience similar to 3D without the gimmicks and awkward glasses, ScreenX is a fun option.
But what exactly is ScreenX? It claims to be the world’s first multi-projection system used in a theater setting, following in the tradition first established by Cinerama in 1952. ScreenX offers a 270-degree panoramic viewing experience, and they don’t rely on a curved screen at all. Instead, ScreenX theaters expand the image directly onto the side walls, which they call “Wings.” These special walls are specifically created with a fabric that allows the projected images to match the center screen. That center screen will play the film as you would see it in any theater, while the images put on the side walls by up to twelve laser digital projectors are made up of specially created material to match the color and brightness of the screen.
ScreenX was created by CJ 4DPLEX, a technology company that is probably best known for their 4D technology, which started in South Korea but has expanded across the globe with increasing momentum over the last decade. Although 4DX is certainly impressive enough, ScreenX is an even more recent innovation in the efforts toward a more immersive cinematic experience. I have heard ScreenX described as IMAX, but with the image being wider instead of taller, though this doesn’t quite do the experience justice. While IMAX may give you more to look at, ScreenX is more about utilizing peripheral vision in order to feel as though you are inside the film. This is especially effective in the world of the Quantum Realm.
Most of the added material projected on the side walls in Quantumania is environmental, allowing the audience to feel as though they have stepped into the Quantum Realm. It isn’t as flashy as some of the past films I have watched in this format, but it does add to the viewing experience. While it doesn’t add anything new to the story itself, the ScreenX experience does enhance the existing narrative in Quantumania. Above all else, it is simply a fun way to experience the movie. And while the format of Imax can be seen in home entertainment releases, ScreenX must be viewed in theaters to get the experience. This is another reason to bring audiences back to theaters.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
ScreenX Features: 7/10