ANT-MAN and the Wasp: Quantumania- Full Review
It's hard to fully put into words what went wrong with arguably the biggest film for the MCU since Endgame. While I find the reaction to it a little overblown, there's definitely positive elements that I'll get into in the review that kept this from reaching The Dark World level of bad. It's still safe to say leaving the theatre after the post credit scenes, I was left underwhelmed and a bit deflated at the direction that the MCU is headed in. After a bunch of films that felt like they were individual character building opportunities, this had the chance to be unique and carve out the next phase of Marvel perfectly. Instead, it never reaches a distinct story arch interesting enough to catapult our next portion of the Marvel saga.
Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) find themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that pushes them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.
After two films of just okay, stand-alone Ant-Man adventures. Both of which were fine and did the job of building up Scott Lang away from the larger than life world at risk storylines of some of the other Avengers. It was finally Rudds opportunity in his third film, to really set the tone for the next few years of marvel films. Unfortunately the tone isn't different enough from the first two films, so what were left with is this small adventure feel for something that's supposed to be the big next chapter for an entire universe. There's never a moment that feels like we're building towards a bigger event, instead we get the same schtick that we've seen before- and it feels so out of place from the story it's trying to tell us.
We have a new major player in the Marvel Universe in Kang the Conqueror, who we were introduced to in Loki. Yet director Peyton Reeds insistence to stay to the same tones he's gone to in the first two films, just absolutely clashes with the conquerors presence. We never get that moment of truly feeling like we're in the presence of the next Thanos, because before we can settle in and enjoy a powerful moment from the character- we're back to the same formulaic gags. The gags and hijinks may work when telling a stand-alone film, but when you're trying to establish the next villain of the universe to a wider audience- it just falls flat.
The notable critique for weak CGI doesn't play as big of a role as it did in Love and Thunder, in fact for the most part I actually felt fully engaged with the CGI place and characters of the quantumrealm. Rather, it was more so the colour gradient of the film that through me for a loop- we get so many scenes that felt far too dark and dreary than it needed to be. We don't get to fully enjoy the setting of the quantumrealm because the dark gradient used doesn't allow the eye to fully grasp every bit of the setting.
Acting wise is an interesting concept because there has been backlash towards a certain performance that I didn't find overly fair. Kathryn Newton has come under fire for her performance as Cassie Lang, Scott's daughter. Partly because of being the one recasted as the chatacter, after Marvel did the original actress Emma Fuhrman dirty- and partly because of what was seen as a phoned in performance. Both couldn't be further from the truth, Newton is not to blame for the Marvel executives brutal decision to replace Fuhrman- nor did I find her performance phoned in. She did what she could with a very weak script that had her constantly reminding the audience that Rudd's character is her dad. The dialogue affected everyone but Rudd, whose character has been written enough between this and other Marvel products to be consistent. Lilly's Wasp is fine, a bit clunky- and the Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas characters both get lots of time to shine. M.OD.O.K. Is a funny side character but they really do go over and about to turn him into the typical Marvel comic performance.
Overall, it's a fine film. The hate against it isn't fully deserved- and had it been a middle character Building film it would've been able to pass as just fine. Depending the future of the MCU on it and it being just fine, is an absolute disaster that unfortunately causes the entire grade for the film to slide. Not landing on expectations, actually hurts it even more than it would for a typical film in the franchise because of what it means for the future of the entire thing.