So I think I can officially say it this time:
This is the first Marvel film I can undoubtedly say I thought was bad. VERY bad, as a matter of fact.
Let's start from the beginning; I enjoyed the first 'Ant-Man' film. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. It reeks of re-writes and five different people working on its script. That said, it's imaginative and fun and I can at least roll with it and find it amusing at its worst lows and creative at its highest highs.
But this...this...this just felt like it was there to just be 'there'.
The characters: Paul Rudd is Paul Rudd. That may sound like a joke, but in all honesty, I have trouble finding a character in Scott Lang beyond "Paul Rudd". His character lacks any real depth, and I find it a struggle to truly care for him by the end of this film or even grasp onto a new development of his character that resulted in his film. He gives off the AIR of being likeable, and I DO like Paul Rudd's performance in this, but other than that...he's an actor playing himself. I don't see "Scott Lang". I see "Paul Rudd".
Michael Douglas? Again, I LOVE Michael Douglas as an actor, but...he spouts technobabble, we're left confused as to what it all means, and we end up just seeing Hank Pymm as a dispensary of science talk and lacking a character. This entire film is about him and his quest to find his wife...yet we never get anything intimate for his character beyond a scene or two (Which are played for laughs anyway, so who cares?).
Evangeline Lily and Michelle Pfeiffer, however, suffer the most here. Never have I seen such flat female characters in a superhero film since the mid-2000's of half-baked Marvel adaptation films. Hope Van Dyne is positioned as such a vital character in this film (Her character's name is IN THE TITLE), yet she feels completely jammed into a "Badass girl who kicks you" stereotype with little-to-no depth. For a character who we were "promised" would be vital to this film, I know very little about her beyond what I already knew from the first film.
Pfeiffer suffers just as much, as she too is treated as only the role of "Woman who must be rescued". We get no development of her character as they search for her, no characterization, no scene that at least gives us an idea of what she was like or what she did.
But what development we DO get is expressed through some truly awful sequences where the events of the first film are needlessly recapped, character backstories are flipped through and swatted-away just so the writers can say they included it, and take away any and all depth that could be explored with these characters.
Instead, everything is FLAT. And I think that word describes this film perfectly. "Flat".
"Flat" is what the characters are. "Flat" is the cinematography and lighting of the film that looks like any other cut-and-dry comedy film with no inventiveness or seeming effort to make this look creative.
And "Flat" is how the humor of this screenplay falls. For the thousands of swings this film takes at humor, it lands it about 20 times, and misses all the rest. The theater I was in was awkwardly quiet, simply because it was trying TOO HARD to be funny. The wit of the first film worked far better in that it didn't need to TRY to be funny.
Instead, we have Michael Pena and Paul Rudd's heist friends rambling in scenes that feel improved and landing no jokes whatsoever. Other than a few scenes that were indeed humorous and garnered a big laugh or two from the audience and myself...clearly, the audience wasn't feeling it.
And neither was I.
In addition, the editing for this film incited a rare reaction of mine where I felt total whiplash in a jump from one scene to another. Quite literally, one transition from a scene to another was the most jarring and disjointed thing I've ever seen, and it left myself and my girlfriend audibly asking ourselves in our theatre seats if we just missed an entire scene. Not good at all.
All that considered...I didn't absolutely hate every aspect of this film. The action scenes where they play with size are still mildly interesting, although even they can't save this film as they lack the ambition and creativeness that the first had. Paul Rudd is entertaining enough as...Paul Rudd, and even a few scenes involving Michael Pena and his friends elicit a chuckle or two.
That said...I can't help but feel this film is an utter mess. A mess of mediocrity, poor editing, poor character writing, 2-3 action scenes that are nothing beyond "Serviceable", and attempts at humor that throws the entire buffet at you...but in the end, you only end up with empty calories.
And that's how I feel about this film. Empty.
...+1 whole point for that Tim Heidecker cameo, though...