After the events of Avengers Infinity War and then Endgame, the world is still dealing with the ramifications of the event, and how people are now reacting and coping with the aftermath. Cassie, Scott Lang's daughter is all grown up and whilst Scott was away, she spent her time trying to learn and understand the quantum realm. While Janet would be the best person to ask, Janet has not been forthcoming about her experience and refuses to talk about it, until a signal is sent into the realm and they are all sucked in and have to deal with the menacing threat of who dwells there, Kang the Conqueror.
Let me get rid of the negatives first. Green screen, everywhere! Needless to say, you cannot venture to the quantum realm for practical effects and scenery, but Pandora is not a real place also and Avatar 2 looks breathtakingly real. The story is actually decent, but the execution is terrible. Maybe terrible is too harsh a word, but thinking about the plot, while great, the film does not do enough to make it seem as if it sits well narratively after the events of Endgame. The transition is not smooth at all and it seems as though there are a great deal of things retconned into this movie simply to make it work. Weird and wonderful is great, but there needed to be an explanation as to why specific groups of people look a specific way and that is not addressed. A character design and story plot point and story arc were forced into the movie which was very unnecessary and it simply looked ridiculous. While the character was cool, their motivations and the overall story seemed rushed and inadequately interjected into a movie that has a lot of things going for it. Some of the humour was simply a turn-off. Maybe I will need to watch it again, but the score did not seem to jump out at me like the second and first films did. Oh and one last thing, nanotech is simply silly now, I feel like everyone has it and I would prefer if people suited up rather than a click-click and suit!
So as for the positives. The overall story is great. The reasons why things happened the way they did, the motivations behind the actions of several of the characters and to a degree, the execution of the story was really good. Paul Rudd owns the character of Scott Lang at this point and you completely buy his relationship with his daughter and the Pym family. He is funny and for the most part, a lot of the heavy lifting is on his back and shoulders. Jonathan Majors, with the little time he has, whilst not written like Killmonger, so lacking in depth, Kang is a great villain and Jonathan absolutely kills it. Every moment he showed up, he owned the screen and the range he has in this movie is similar to a James McAvoy in Split. I would have liked a bit more depth with his character to flesh him out that little bit more, but I am assuming we will learn and know more about his character in many movies and shows to come. The action set-pieces were great and the third act was also really good to watch. What I will say, which is a slight negative though, is the trailer oversold this movie to be darker, to have more stakes and carried a tone that presented an Infinity War climax, but the film's tone is certainly not as light as the first movie, but definitely not as dark as other movies or at least what the trailer alluded to and this is where I believe Marvel dropped the ball. The interconnectivity felt loose and slightly disjointed. Also, there did not seem to be much weight to the future of these characters and their choices. For example, It was teased that Thanos was a huge threat, so when he finally appeared, you felt it. You felt his presence and the threat level due to the build-up. This movie only had a TV show as the build-up to the villain of this movie and while he owned the role, ultimately, he simply felt like a one-and-done. And imagine if you had not seen the TV series Loki? Killmonger earned his menace through great writing and execution in a single film, while Kang does not...similar to Gorr the God Butcher.
I enjoyed the movie as a whole, whilst it could have been stronger, I liked what they did, ultimately. Of recent, the MCU has not been firing off all cylinders and this, along with a few others, is proof that the MCU needs more time in the oven. Black Panther was really good, Spider-Man: No Way Home was excellent, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness could have been meatier, Thor: Love and Thunder was simply a joke-fest and not as strong as Thor: Ragnorok, Black Widow, years too late and some choices made in that movie hampered it, Eternals was different, but I enjoyed it and Shang-Chi, Werewolf by Night and Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special are all really good. While we can accept not every movie is going to be excellent, compound this with an also "wishy-washy" TV series, phase 4 does not seem to have the momentum it needs to push the franchise forward as hard as previous phases. I have also heard people not liking phase 4 either, but I simply boil that down to two things, people's personal expectations and lazy writing/execution. We as the audience are expecting quality filming like Infinity War and/or Endgame. There has been a build-up to those movies and we are ultimately forgetting how phase 1 was for us. We did not know how things were going until Thanos was teased. I feel a lot of people are forgetting this fact and are projecting. But with that said, with over 10 years of filmmaking, a franchise that has got soo good with interlinking the stories to present something bigger over a grander story arc across many movies, the MCU is somewhat sophisticated, and while the quality has been only a little touch and go between different projects, there is reason to argue/debate, that the quality has dropped and the spectacle has raised presenting something that is lacking. Something that is only visually engaging than narratively engaging. People will complain and state superhero fatigue, but when you have other companies/intellectual properties within the same film genre doing well, you begin to wonder, it must just be lazy writing and poor execution. The end credits scenes are good, but ultimately, with a film that should carry a lot of weight and feels steady on its feet, the post-credits scenes as interesting as they were, lacks gravitas. I would definitely not place this in the top MCU trilogies (or maybe I would, Ironman, Thor [well, the trilogy part of course]), I would not say the film was terrible as I did really enjoy it, but just like Multiverse of Madness, it is the execution and the MCU needs to do better as more movies like this, that are serviceable and other movies that are just ok, they will see a decline and they have come too far to become washed up. At present, Marvel has raised their own bar soo high, they are failing (in places) to even meet the bar anymore. This could be down to Disney beind the scenes management, but hopefully, Iger is back, so maybe, just maybe, Marvel will get back on form.