I guess I went to see the movies with the wrong expectations. Critics were pretty bad, and less than a month after its release, there weren't that many available show times, a clear sign of its unpopularity. And indeed, as the movie started, I felt bored. The characters are uninteresting and the "chemistry" doesn't operate. The romance between Ant-Man & The Wasp is but a memory, and the father-daughter relationship only exists through dialogue lines already seen a million times and that could be attributed to pretty much any regular American father in a family movie. At times some characters are even completely out: when the greatest scientist of the Quantum Realm becomes able to speak with the beings of that place, the first thing he asks is "do you have something to drink to get me drunk?". The humor doesn't work, and there is nothing "quantum" about the physics of the Quantum Realm, which is obviously annoying.
And yet! I enjoyed it. I think I must have come to an age where nostalgia gets its grip on me. It felt like an old-school SF movie, full of random epic stuff and people shouting in big battles that go nowhere because all that matters is the duel between hero and villain. It didn't feel like a Marvel, it didn't feel like the key movie able to set the MCU on rails again, but I had lots of fun and went away really happy and glad I had bothered watching it on the big screen. Is it a promising first start? I don't know, I don't care, I just want to riot with the other aliens.
Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3
I think Volume I of the Guardians of the Galaxy was a pure joy to watch, while Volume 2 felt tedious, with an underwhelming story, and a sluggish pace. Volume 3 returns in full strength with a purely entertaining movie filled with epic action scenes that do a pretty good job in feeling inventive and interesting, despite the accumulation. The story feels very much on rails, but this isn't really an issue. That the movie was interspersed with flashbacks moments from Rocket, culminating with a very powerful scene, worked quite well, slowing down the whole thing not to make it dull, but to give it more substance, more gravity, something the movie really needs at times to not feel like a pure parody of itself.
The weird thing is that, beyond the needed references to Avengers: Infinity War (which prevents this trilogy to be self-consistent), the movie shows no connection at all with the rest of the MCU. Just like Phase IV, you don't feel in Phase V that they are actually developing an over-arching plot. It feels like a diversification of strands that just exist on their own and don't lead anywhere in particular. Still, I had good fun with that one, and don't mind a bit. I spent about a week reviving moments of the movie in flashes, and this is definitely a testimony that it was more impactful and uplifting than just a patchwork of silly but cool scenes with characters trying not to take themselves seriously.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
This one is not part of the MCU but I wanted to mention it anyway. It's actually a cartoon, and the sequel of Spider-Man: New Generation, which was pretty enjoyable. And I want to say: I don't like Spider-Man, and I believe the multiverse concept is a poor narrative device that can only lead to an accumulation of easter eggs, an all-too-easy source of justifications for inconsistencies, and something just boring overall. But this movie was superb, and way more interesting than I was expecting. Actually, the further the movie got, the more into it I felt, to the point of being completely absorbed in the story, delighting in seeing it unfold in ways I was not expecting. And, despite the long run time, I never felt bored for a minute, and I wondered at times that I had seen so many things happening in so short a time. Finally, the visuals are extremely rich, vivid, and varied, but you really need to see it on the big screen, and it may get overwhelming at times. A top-tier recommendation for this one - but you need to have seen the first one to enjoy it fully.
How could anyone let this disaster happen? You couldn't think that this movie stems from one of the most successful cinematographic sagas of all time. It feels like a direct-to-DVD bad sequel. The plot is completely wacky, the acting is straight-out bad, the villain a caricature, and it's full of extremely zany ideas that seem like a bad parody (e.g. they come to a planet where people can only express themselves in songs and don't understand when people speak normally). Unfortunately, the Z-movie quality of these lengthy sequences does not serve the humor (especially since the film is pretty serious otherwise, so it's just jarring), they don't feel like bold transgressions, they just transpire the overall lack of inspiration that this movie suffers all throughout. Even worse, you need to have seen all the Disney+ series as they keep referencing stuff from there (well, granted, seeing "Miss Marvel" beforehand was expected, but you also need to have seen Secret Wars which I haven't had time to watch). And the dialogues are sorely bad.
This whole failure is even more infuriating given a) I enjoyed the Miss Marvel TV series quite a lot and was happy to see the character (which is still a good character, only she hasn't been given anything really meaningful to do except saving the world from an evil galactic warlord attempting to siphon the Sun - yes, it's that level); b) this was supposed to be the "Woman Power" movie of the MCU, and therefore they had to really make it work to give justice to the place this movie has in the saga. And yet, it lacks polish, the action scenes are dull, the movie doesn't stand on its own, the central gimmick (the heroines switch places when they use their power at the same time) comes out of nowhere and doesn't lead to any interesting moment. Well, it's just catastrophic. I was heavily disappointed.