Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”
I don't know what to say about this that isn't self-evident by its very existence. It's the 31st Marvel Studios film. By now either you don't watch them, or you do and you have a sense of which ones are good and which ones are the rest, and Ant-Man movies have always been the latter. The first one should have been a snappy heist movie in the mode of Ocean's Eleven, but it lacked the confidence to break free of the superhero film template. The second one should have been a screwball romantic comedy about Wasp upstaging Ant-Man, but it was too stuffed with unnecessary subplots and never came together. This third film should be an epic space opera: It brings together warring factions in an epic conflict over the fate of the universe in an alien setting (the Quantum Realm is "beyond space and time") featuring high technology and chivalry and romance and villainy. And yet, it never goes where it should: The villain never commits a truly evil act like killing one of the heroes (the major ones anyway), the morality never grows beyond one dimension, and the movie never commits to a tone, continually shifting awkwardly such as whether one particular villain is to be mocked or feared or pitied. I appreciate Marvel's ambition in trying to make films that expand beyond the familiar superhero-movie template, but at this point I doubt that they are sufficiently committed to that ideal to do what it takes to make each film really distinctive, because this feels like the same safe, mildly-amusing, sequel-friendly CGI adventure that they can churn out in their sleep. (And besides, they already made a space opera.)
Other bad stuff: Wasp barely does anything in the film despite nominally being co-lead. The plot is heavily contrived, depending on one character not sharing information that should have been shared much earlier, another character inventing Banner-level technology while still in high school, and other characters doing idiotic things like loudly arguing when someone tells them to be quiet because they're in danger. Jonathan Majors gives a herculean effort at making Kang interesting, but for me it fell short, partly because we learn almost nothing new about Kang here that wasn't already established in Loki, and partly because his determination to kill all of his alternate selves seems completely pointless when there are an infinite number of them. Marvel has their work cut out for them in making sense of Kang and in making him interesting if he's going to continue to get so much screen time.
Good stuff: I really appreciate the film's sense of humor, and wish that more jokes had been included, because they feel like the only really good moments; anyone can pay an army of CGI artists to create an all-digital world, and pay Paul Rudd a buttload of money to phone in another half-asleep performance, but humor is the spark that makes it all come to life, and Marvel used to understand that humor was critical to the company's success. The weird denizens of the Quantum Realm are funny and interesting and I would have gladly spent more time on their eccentricities. The father-daughter relationship at the center of the film works well and the filmmakers were wise to focus on it; I especially appreciate Cassie pointing out how Scott fails to live up to the ideals of heroism that he keeps promoting. Despite three underwhelming films now, I still remain fond of these characters and wouldn't mind seeing more of them.This review contains spoilers. Reveal it.
− February 19, 2023 more by Scott log in or create an account to reply
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