Ant and the Wasp: Quantumania Film Review (Moderate spoilers)
Ant-Man and the Wasp heralds itself as "The Beginning of a New Dynasty". It is indeed the Dynasty of Meh Marvel Movies. Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is definitely a visual achievement, since 90% of the movie takes place in a CGI world, but it is just another addition to the meh/bad movies of Phases 4 and 5. It's not a terrible start to Phase 5, but it certainty could have been better.
Most of this movie was people yelling the same thing over and over again. Cassie yells "We can't just ignore it!", Scott yells "Cassie!", Janet yells "I need you to trust me!", Hope yells "Mom!", and Hank yells "My ants!" for most of the two hour runtime. This will be a constant theme in this review, but it's Kang who had any meaningful dialogue whatsoever. This movie constantly dealt with the problem of trying to find its many characters something meaningful to do, and failed. Janet had a true role for the first time in the MCU, and it was interesting to see her interacting with the old Quantum world she used to know. Scott just wants to save Cassie, and Hope just wants to save Scott and her parents. At least Scott was mentoring his daughter on how to be an Ant-Person, Hope literally just stood around at time and looked around with her new hair. For a movie called Ant-Man and the Wasp, the Wasp gets very little screentime/things to do or say. It seems like too much time went into the visual effects, and not nearly enough time was spent in the writing room.
I'm not even going to talk about Ant-Man, he does classic Ant-Man things the whole time. Even though Ant-Man's the thief, it is Kang who steals the show. Jonathan Majors delivers a standout performance as Kang the Conqueror, even though we don't see him until way into the movie's runtime. He steals each and every scene he is in, and that man is going to CARRY Phase 5 of the MCU on his multiversal backs. This movie is worth seeing just for his performance alone, the despair in his facial expressions, the pleading looks he gives characters before thrashing them, it's all done so well. That being said, they nerfed him BIG time, and really didn't do the character any justice. For a super powerful being heralded as "The next Thanos" he really has a hard time squashing some bugs. Like I said, don't go for Kang, go for Jonathan Majors as Kang.
As would be expected in a Marvel movie, the plot is very one dimensional. Sucked into the Quantum Realm (somehow). Don't let Kang get out. But also get out. The movie doesn't really have a sense of dread or defeat like Multiverse of Madness did. In Madness at least the villain felt like a threat, in this movie there really is no "Oh no Kang is here!" moment, it's just people talking about how scary he is then he just lectures the heroes a lot. The ending is also cheap, as we see (big spoiler) Scott ready to sacrifice himself in a pretty badass fist fight versus Kang...only to be saved by Wasp....and then they both get saved instantly. The MCU is clutching onto each of it's characters like a greedy kid who won't share his toys. Wakanda Forever chickened out on killing Okoye or M'Baku, and this movie follows the same route of teasing character deaths, with no follow through. This would have been a great way for Scott to end his story, saving his daughter and the world by keeping himself and Kang in the Quantum Realm. Instead the writers remembered they have the Wasp in the title of the movie and used her to kind of save the day. It's hard to care about any of these Phase 4/5 movies when the stakes really seem so low. And as I've been saying since WandaVision, the lack of a true plot/threat is killing the MCU. They tease the Council of Kangs but that's it, no overarching villains pulling the strings, Phase 4 was a lot of wasted time with almost no significance to any of Phase 5. If Marvel truly is making Kang the next Thanos, variants of him need to show up in EVERY show/movie from now on.
Most of the action scenes in this movie are pure CGI Marvel nonsense, with one bland army fighting a colorful army. Great. But there are two scenes which definitely deserve praise. The 3 v 1 fight of Wasp, Ant-Man, and Cassie versus Kang was awesome and brutal, but it lasted like thirty seconds. The best action the MCU has since since Shang-Chi is definitely the fistfight between Scott and Kang. No powers, just two very angry people throwing hands. This is the one scene where Kang's ferocity is truly on display. And Jonathan Majors delivers the "Oh you poor thing" face perfectly right before he pummels Scott. It is a true shame that such an exciting and emotional fight had no impact on the plot, and was meaningless. As as much as liked what they did with MODOK, all of his action was very dull, which is interesting for a mechanism designed only for killing. Should have been mechanism designed only for boredom. MODOB. And a real swing and a miss not having flashbacks of Kang killing Avengers. Would have been a great chance to showcase some random Avengers and CGI Iron Man and Cap, instead we are supposed to be impressed when Kang says he has killed Avengers before. I feel like I'm grading my students essays, don't just tell me something, show me! Prove it! If this movie proved anything, it's that Marvel needs to be worried.
The dazzling and wacky CGI set pieces can't distract the viewer from a half baked plot, meaningless action and drama, and a cheap win for the "good guys". Jonathan Majors as Kang carries the film, and will probably need to carry most of the MCU from now on.
What score would you give Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania?