Two movies about families, but the super heroes aren’t the ones you’d expect
“Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” (Rated T)
Cast: Paul Rudd, Jonathan Majors, Evangeline Lilly, Michele Pfeiffer
Genre: Action, Adventure
Where to watch: In theaters
It’s time to apply the brakes.
It’s one thing for there to be mediocre romantic comedies, or lackluster coming-of-age family stories, or even one-note animated films.
But my goodness, what are we doing when we can accept the steady cranking out of generic superhero movies?
Is this really the world in which we want to live? Why have star-studded casts and expensive visual effects if the result is going to be something as regular as any old procedural TV crime drama?
And this has become the rule rather than the exception. It seems for every “Wakanda Forever” or “The Batman”, we are cursed with one or two like “Black Adam” and now “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”.
When these movies are no longer special, and are just like the one you saw that time (probably just a few short months ago), and the time right before that, then they become unnecessary and downright annoying.
And with “Ant-Man” already feeling like a franchise within the Marvel Cinematic Universe that is … um … disposable, one has to wonder, what is the point of all of this?
For this now third installment, Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) find themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that pushes them beyond the limits of what they thought was possible.
“Quantumania” gets off to a quite unremarkable start, but there are eventually glimmers of hope, especially whenever the wonderful Michelle Pfeiffer is featured, and as we explore her character Janet’s backstory.
But then, we are thrust into a space opera – with bizarre and ridiculous alien lifeforms – that can best be described as a flea market “Star Wars”.
And if you’ve watched any of the “Star Wars” in the trilogy, you know that at least four of those films (probably five) would struggle to sell at the Swap Shop. But yet, “Quantumania” is not even as good as those.
The humor that always seemed a little uncomfortably out of place in the original “Ant-Man” (2015), and was sadly greatly reduced in the 2018 follow-up “Ant-Man and the Wasp”, is sporadic at best here.
Last year’s sometimes depressing “Wakanda Forever” is more amusing than “Quantumania”. How is that possible?
You know things aren’t good when the usual mid-credit extra scene is actually the most interesting thing in the entire movie. (Is there one at very end of the credits? You let me know, ‘cause I couldn’t bear to find out!)
Despite being blessed with a great cast like Rudd, Pfieffer, Lilly and now the omnipresent man-of-the-hour Jonathan Majors, “Quantumania” feels like a burden – to us and to the actors.
Other greats are simply wasted; the great Bill Murray provides one far-too-brief scene of comedy. And Oscar-winner Michael Douglas is here, but he could have done the nonsense required of him on Zoom.
With “Quantumania”, it’s time to let Ant-Man – and any other hero insects – permanently slip off into another universe.
“The Fabelmans” (US Rated PG-13)
Cast: Gabriel LaBelle, Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Judd Hirsch
Where to watch: Video-on-demand
I’ll admit it. I thought this was going to be another self-indulgent Hollywood-type production.
You know, the ones like “La La Land” that only industry insiders gush about.
But this is Steven Spielberg (he directed and co-wrote with Tony Kushner – the Pulitzer and Tony award-winning playwright “Angels in America”, and Spielberg rarely disappoints. Probably never!)
And so, this is a very special semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story, and it’s worthy of all and any hype you might have heard.
Loosely based on Spielberg’s life, with some names changed, we follow the early life of young Sammy Fabelman, who falls in love with movies after his parents take him to see “The Greatest Show on Earth”. Armed with a camera, Sammy starts to make his own films at home, much to the delight of his supportive mother.
Amazing from start to finish, and relatable to anyone who’s ever been a child and had a family, “The Fabelmans” is a true delight.
This amazing cast shines. For her work here, Michelle Williams earned her fifth Oscar nomination, with a performance that you’ll not soon forget. Multiple Emmy and Tony winner, veteran actor Judd Hirsch (TV’s “Taxi”) is on screen for what seems like five minutes (it’s apparently just under 10 minutes), and that was enough to earn him his second nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Unfortunately, the star of the film, Gabriel LaBelle, the emotional heart of the picture as Sammy, has largely been left off the lists this awards season. And the young actor really deserves to be recognized for his fine work. It’s a travesty.
But “The Fabelmans” is so enjoyable, you won’t be able to dwell on that oversight too long. Fun, funny, touching, loving, lovely! This is one of the very best movies from 2022.
“The Fabelmans” are the true super hero family you need to be watching!
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email email@example.com and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.