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MOVIES: Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania - Review

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For all the comments about Marvel making tv shows not films now, Quantumania isn't even a good episode of a television show, let alone a movie. Easily the worst attempt at a massive blockbuster film in quite some time, probably since well, Thor: Love and Thunder, Quantumania feels as boring as its main actors' interest in the final product - completely non-existent, because what's the point in making a third film if your actors can't even be asked to be there? Marvel's weakness has always been its complete lack of emotional sincerity and and depth and none of that is present here but that's in large part due to just how bad Paul Rudd, Kathryn Newton, Bill Murray, Evangeline Lilly (no doubt too busy with her anti-vax rallies to care), Michael Douglas and even the much-praised Jonathan Majors are - they're sleepwalking through this film and can you blame them when they're given material this poor?

The film's premise makes the mistake of removing the magic of the first two Ant Mans which I quite liked and why I went to see this one even though my interest in Marvel has all but evaporated over the last two years - instead of its small scale appeal of relatively grounded Marvel films, Quantumania instead goes big: not quite an Avengers-level movie but more of a Avengers prologue - and that's all this film is, a prologue - no stakes, no plot, nothing matters here in not just the grand scheme of things but the film's own right, you can't bring yourself to care about anything. The film basically sees our heroes, Ant-Man and the Wasp, not that you'd know they were a couple in the previous films because of the complete lack of screentime, let alone chemistry, shared between Paul Rudd or Evangeline Lilly, along with Newton's recast Cassie Lang and both Douglas and Pfeiffer thrown into the Quantum Realm when a signal is followed at the other end. Once they become aware of the threat of Kang, the Conqueror - also trapped in the Quantum Realm with them, their objective becomes not just getting out but stopping Kang from escaping with them.

It's a would-be rich attempt at creating a secondary world within the Marvel Universe that we haven't seen much before and the film draws inspiration from both George Lucas and Douglas Adams, there's the Star Wars Cantina scene that every science fiction thing has at some point where we get to see a variety of aliens, and there's the Adams kind of humour, but in fact that would do disservice to Adams because it's more the Rick and Morty humour, which makes sense as Jeff Loveness' first movie screenplay is proceeded by that show. His script almost sinks the film - it goes to the Love & Thunder school of thought by completely being unable to give the emotional moments any kind of depth or seriousness by undercutting them with a joke that means the film is afraid to tackle the weight of its own subject - there's nothing wrong with humour; but when it's dialogue that's half-baked at best to the point where the audience is laughing at you rather than with you? You know you've messed up - it's safe to say the crowd laughing at stuff that wasn't meant to be funny was the most entertainment that I had with the entire film.

The VFX is shoddy and completely takes you out of it - there's no emotional weight to the giant mothballing cgi scenes that are on display consistently and the juxtaposition of the actors in the background always looks like they're on a green screen and when you have cheap science fiction television where they're using cardboard rocks to create an alien world that looks more believable than a multi-million dollar blockbuster you really have no excuse, especially not with Creed III and John Wick 4 just around the corner and the immersive sincerity of Avatar: The Way of Water just before that. It recently came out that Marvel worked on this film at the same time as Wakanda Forever with the same VFX teams but why not outsource them? They're not even trying anymore - and it's never been more evident than in the finished product, and it's had a knock on effect on both films as whilst Coogler is able to steer Wakanda Forever into being one of the best of Phase 4, it's let down by its third act whenever it tries to remember it's a Marvel movie - Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania never fails to remind you that it's a Marvel movie, and therein lies the problem - the genre's films are their best when they're doing their own thing - you know, being actual movies - rather than, well, whatever this was.

The film feels consistent with reminding you that it's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, trotting out greatest hits clumsily and awkwardly through the guise of Scott Lang consistently making quips about fighting with, not against Captain America and being mistaken for Spider-Man rather than Ant-Man - but everybody in these films as the same personality now; a quip machine rather than an actual character - you could for instance, put Spider-Man here and nothing would change save for the powers he'd use - when the film is too focused on reminding you of better - however marginal - events that have happened in past movies to make you care about this one; what's the point in a connected universe if it can't even make you interested in its individual efforts? A film should be as much a film as it is an opening chapter, and if this is the opening chapter for the next leg of the MCU, then we are really, in so much trouble.

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