This may be an unpopular opinion amongst the Marvel hive but I actually like both Ant-Man 1 and Ant-Man and the Wasp. I understand their weaknesses but they were both welcome diversions from the big epic Avengers films that proceeded them with likable casts led by the always engaging Paul Rudd.
I know a lot of people disagree with me about these films (especially the 2nd one which I admit has 2 weak villains but I think Ghost has compelling motivations for her actions) but it is at least reasonable to expect the 3rd entry in a trilogy to follow the basic pattern and tone of the two previous entries. So when I sat down for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania imagine my surprise to get a film completely different. Some may call that a good thing but I was underwhelmed.
In this film we get Scott Lang (aka Ant-Man) trying to teach his rebellious daughter Cassie respect for the rules but her trouble-making spirit lands them both (along with all 3 of the Pyms) back in the Quantum Realm. What then proceeds is 2 hours of Star Wars-like fighting all leading to a fight with the Exiled Kang the Conqueror played by Jonathan Majors. All of this action fit much better in the Loki show, and I don’t think we learned anything new about Kang in the film that we didn’t get in Loki, so what was the point of it all?
When they first arrive in the Quantum Realm there is some fun world building and creature designs, but it quickly becomes giant CG city-scapes and it all feels like we are stuck in a video game from 2002. They try to liven things up with a few cameos and a bizarre appearance from MODOK that I won’t go into more but after a while it felt like a slog more than the upbeat Ant-man movies I enjoy.
Maybe kids who haven’t seen a million scifi movies will like this more than I did but isn’t it interesting that the simple heist story of the first film was much more engaging than this big supposedly epic movie? Honestly to keep myself from getting bored I started imagining the food and beverage tie-ins they could do at Disneyland’s Avengers Campus (they have ‘Pym’s Test Kitchen’ there.) It’s probably not a good sign if your mind goes to Disneyland food during the latest epic Marvel movie…
It will be interesting to see what audiences think of this one. Oddly it reminded me of something DC particularly from the Zack Snyder era would have made. It has all the polish of an epic without any of the spark or engagement to keep me invested. I guess we will see but as for this critic I prefer my Ant-Man movies smaller than whatever this was…
5 out of 10
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So I must admit I have been on a bit of a role lately! I not only have been making podcasts I love on both of my channels (Hallmarkies and Rachel’s Reviews) but I have been able to see a lot of movies (I’ve done several double-headers). Some I have reviewed on my channel (and some on this blog) but others I haven’t gotten around to covering. So that means it’s time for my Current Mini Reviews update! I will let give my brief thoughts, whether it is smile/frown worthy and where it lists in my 2018 Releases Ranking. Enjoy!
Life of the Party
I seem to be one of the few who hasn’t grown tired of Melissa McCarthy’s shtick (I even enjoyed Ghostbusters!). Now we have Life of the Party and it wasn’t the greatest comedy but it was serviceable. I laughed enough to enjoy myself and the supporting cast is strong including Maya Rudolph, Gillian Jacobs and Molly Gordon who plays McCarthy’s daughter. Luke Benward is very hunky as McCarthy’s boy-fling.
Smile Worthy (barely)
51 out of 71
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation
This franchise has produced 3 entertaining if a bit unmemorable films and that includes Hotel Transylvania 3. It was an enjoyable sit with some nice animation and good laughs. It doesn’t have the emotional punch of Pixar but it had a sweet message to it. I think this is an improvement over HT2 which didn’t use its ensemble cast very well.
19 out of 71
With a 0% on rottentomatoes and moviepass making it basically free I couldn’t resist watching this trainwreck. And trainwreck it is. Pretty much everything is off in this biopic but the most absurd part is they try to paint the mafia as a persecuted minority that the cops are hounding unfairly. There’s even a title card at the end explaining the efforts the FBI went to take them down and the FBI is the villain!
69 out of 71
Hearts Beat Loud
I think this might have been oversold to me as ‘the next Sing Street‘. Hearts Beat Loud isn’t a bad movie but I left feeling underwhelmed. The performances are nice and a couple of the songs decent but I was never emotionally engaged with the main relationship between the father and the daughter. Both my friend and I agreed that it felt cursory when they could have dove deeper and asked more questions. The only emotion I felt was between the daughter and her girlfriend. Sing Street it is not. I honestly found it kind of boring…
Frown Worthy (barely)
52 out of 71
Set It Up
Since everyone knows I love romcoms I was told by many to check out this Netflix entry in the genre. My response was it was ok. I liked the lead couple Zoey Deutch and Glen Powell and they had decent chemistry. Lucy Liu is also good as an ice queen boss that gets more character development than the trope typically allows. However, I found the movie to be a bit too cynical for my taste. I like my romances to be a little more light and fluffy.
Smile Worthy (barely)
50 out of 71
Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
Very sweet fantasy anime that is about an immortal woman’s struggles to be a mother and watch her mortal child grow up and suffer. The animation was stunning, and I got very wrapped up in it. It has some pacing issues but over all I definitely recommend it. Director Mari Okada has made a fantasy film that is ambitious in its world building and lovely in its emotional depth. Fantasy fans, not just anime fans will really enjoy it.
12 out of 71
I love Whitney Houston and was so sad to see her life spiral out of control leading to her eventual death. So naturally I was interested in this documentary and it’s mostly satisfactory. Director Kevin Macdonald does a good job showing all sides to the singer and her impact on music and pop culture. However, there are a few things that felt a little exploitative to me and his attempts to tie Whitney’s life into broader world events felt a little heavy handed. Still worth checking out. Bring tissues.
39 out of 71
Ant-Man and the Wasp-
I really enjoyed the first Ant-Man. I think more than most, so I was excited for this sequel and I left thinking it was just ok. The action is a lot of fun and the cast knocks it out of the park but it wasn’t as funny as the first one and several plot threads got a little boring for me. Still, it’s a decent superhero movie with some fun moments.
23 out of 71
This was more entertaining than I expected it to be. There are some entertaining action set pieces like a fight that happens in a room with mirrors. Also I liked that Nev Campbell’s character wasn’t a cliched warrior woman or damsel in distress but just a smart Mom. I’m not sure why they needed him to have an artificial leg except for one kind of gimmicky scene.
The villain characters were very snoozeworthy with lame motivation. Still, if looking for summer entertainment that doesn’t take itself too seriously you could do worse.
35 out of 71
With the marketing heavily leaning on the ‘producer of Your Name’ I wondered if this would be a disappointment. It didn’t seem to have much to sell of itself but just its similarities to a beloved film. Sadly my worries were correct. Fireworks does have some good things but for each good aspect there was a negative. Some of the animation was beautiful and then others used CG in really terrible ways. Some character moments were sweet and others felt really cheesy. Some parts of the story worked and other parts felt very muddled and confusing. There’s a sexuality in the character design and story that was strange.