May be enough?
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Mania was advertised as the first film of the fifth phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — meaning the global plot of the Avengers soap opera in it should have finally moved forward. Fans of the MCU needed nothing more to be happy — if only their favorite heroes would finally stop mourning the dead and start doing something else. Agree, a rather low bar of expectations, which MCU architect Kevin Feige will reach without much effort.
And… it didn’t happen. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Mania is not just the most sluggish intro to the new saga, but just a pointless movie in its own right. For two hours absolutely nothing happens in it: neither for the central characters, nor for the villains, nor for their entourage. Heck, even Guardians of the Galaxy’s geeky Christmas special looks like a more important and influential piece of work than a new feature film with ten times the budget.
I would even say that Quantum Mania spoils the previous two parts of the Ant-Man trilogy with its existence. Specifically, the arc of the original Wasp (Michelle Pfeiffer). From the first two films, we learned that she accidentally entered the Quantum Realm and spent decades there, miraculously surviving and not going crazy. It seemed like something cool, because the subatomic world was shown as a strange and creepy place in which there is no place for any person.
At the very beginning of Quantum Mania, Scott Lang, his adult daughter Cassie (Katherine Newton), Hope Van Dyne, as well as the original Ant-Man (Michael Douglas) and the Wasp are sent back to the Quantum Realm due to an idiotic slip of the tongue. And it turns out that this is not at all a creepy abstract world that is alien to human nature, but simply a spherical sci-fi universe in a vacuum. With hundreds of bizarre anthropomorphic races, cities, spaceships and bars.
In other words, the Quantum Universe is just a tasteless carbon copy of some Star Wars, as if passed through a dozen neural networks. It seems to be a competent spectacle, but upon closer acquaintance — something completely dead, devoid of any fiction and a common theme.
At the same time, the filmmakers clearly did not understand how disastrously secondary this fantastic setting turned out to be. Because 80%, if not 90% of the time, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Mania relies entirely on the imaginary visual wow effect that the viewer must have, and simply forgets about the narrative. Imagine if James Cameron’s Avatar had graphics and art design on par with Spy Kids 3 — that’s what Quantum Mania looks like.
And even with the introduction of a new arch-antagonist, Kang the Conqueror, the film does very poorly. Traveling throughout the multiverse, the villain pushes grandiloquent speeches with the promise of “you don’t understand me”, throws people against walls and screams a lot. And then it turns out to be a dummy, threatening the world more in quantity than in quality. Most frustratingly, Jonathan Majors plays the part convincingly and with sheer enthusiasm, but still doesn’t get over the CGI cacophony he’s unfortunate enough to find himself in.
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As a result, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Mania does not work as a visual attraction, lulls you with action scenes, cannot even knock out an uncertain laugh from the whole hall, and rather kills interest in the future of the MCU than rekindles it. Additional task with an asterisk after the screening: scroll through the movie in your head and find something that has theoretical implications for future MCU projects, or at least for the protagonists of this particular story.
I didn’t succeed — I sincerely tried.
I do not exclude that Kevin Feige will still open a second wind for the MCU and provide the series with an additional 10-20 years of multibillion-dollar fees. But for now, it looks like the Disney cash machine is slowly rusting and falling apart. Maybe it’s for the best — I speak as a former fan.
Cyber rating: 4 out of 10.