RSS

Monthly Archives: April 2015

Film Review – Avengers: Age of Ultron

A Marvel Studios Film, Directed by Joss Whedon.

Released: 1st May 2015

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson and James Spader

Some Notes on my viewing experience: I was never going to enjoy Avengers: Age of Ultron as much as I wanted to for a number of reasons.

The first and foremost was the insane amount of commercials and marketing surrounding the film. On one hand, I can appreciate companies need to reiterate that they are not just flogging the same sort of film that we’ve seen countless times before. But on the other hand, this is The Avengers. As several commercials have said; the summer’s greatest heroes are back. This didn’t need to be sold. It was a sure success even if it turned out to be terrible. But this film may have finally been what I needed to encourage me to stop watching trailers; I’m a man with little self-control; I’m not very good with money, I drink, I smoke; I’m just generally a bit useless. So when a company offers me a glimpse at something I’m excited about, I’m going to watch the hell out of it. And that really backfired on this film. Apart from three rather insignificant plot points, I knew exactly what was going to happen every step of the way throughout the film. Not that it was predictable by any means; there are loads of twists and turns and surprises, but having seen various things online, I anticipated them all. If you’ve got to this stage without looking at any promotional material, I commend you, and if you’ve already started and are tempted to watch more, then I warn you now: don’t.

Another warning I would offer is to not see the film in 3D. Age of Ultron is a beauty to behold, but frankly, from the get go, there’s a lot going on. The film dives right into the action, as the Avengers set out of squash Hydra once and for all, and finish cleaning up the various messes they have made. There are some beautifully choreographed fight scenes, and every character gets a chance in the spotlight. But when you’ve got Captain America somersaulting around, Hawkeye and Black Widow gunning down villains, Iron Man blasting lasers, Thor zapping people with lightning and the Hulk lumbering about tearing things to pieces, trying to keep up really starts to hurt your eyes (and I have perfect vision, for the record).

But that’s enough complaining, frankly, because truth-be-told, those are both things that could have been avoided.

avengers assembled.jpg

Review [MINOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW]: Joss Whedon expertly ties together the various strands from all the Marvel franchises into an interesting interwoven plot as the Avengers finally begin to finish clearing up the various messes they have made since the first film. Defeating Hydra, the Avengers are faced with the new evil of artificial intelligence, as Chitauri tech infects Tony Stark and Bruce Banner’s work to create the titular Ultron; a peacekeeping initiative who decrees the only way to peace is through humanity’s extinction. In their quest to defeat Ultron, the Avengers come to blows with one another and outside forces like Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, all the while, a new hero, the Vision, ascends to the battlefield.

black widow.jpg

What’s great about this entry is that although Captain America, Thor and Iron Man do spend a lot of time in the spotlight, it is the other Avengers that really shine. Black Widow continues her gradual evolution to a place where the audience is really touched by her tragic back-story, whilst Hawkeye is shown to have a sense of humor and a heart that is more important to the team than just his bow and arrows. Meanwhile, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch manage to undergo interesting characters arcs that, whilst cementing them as some of my favorite characters in the film, didn’t take up too much time, avoiding putting off any potential naysayers. Even the Hulk, who can’t even speak, showed true depth of character, especially at the climax of the film.

The only characters who could have perhaps of done with more screen-time were War Machine, the Vision and the Falcon (the last of whom I really would have loved to see more of), but in a film so packed with characters, that was understandable, especially as it becomes clear at the end that we will be seeing a lot more of them, as all three characters join the new Avengers roster. But the problem with the Vision is although he was visually spectacular, to non-comic-fans (like my housemate) his whole story could seem rather bizarre. His powers aren’t explained at all; he just shows up, starts phasing through things and shooting lasers out of his head. Although I understood perfectly, having read far more comics in my lifetime than necessary, I could see how things like this left the otherwise great story with some plot-holes to pick at. For instance:

Why can a ‘mind gem’ shoot rays of light? What’s the point in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. if Nick Fury still has people loyal to him and his own mother-freakin’ Helicarrier? Why would Ultron Prime make his drones look cooler (and closer to the source material) than he is? And perhaps most important of all, why is Tony Stark’s armor now Irish? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that last one; but we agreed it seemed a tad out of place)

ageofultron.jpg

Yes, those were some of the stupider ones I picked, but to these and more questions, the answers seemed to vary between ‘there isn’t any point’ and ‘because why not?’, which isn’t exactly what we as an audience were looking for.

But at this stage, in such a rapidly expanding universe, there are going to be a lot of plot holes and plot leaks to come, so just sit back and enjoy the ride, because Age of Ultron is both visually stimulating and awesomely exciting.

Plus Iron Man vs. the Hulk? Amazing.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Avengers: Age of Over-Saturation [Update]

age-of-ultron-vision-hd

I was perhaps a bit hasty when I made my last post, thinking that at 11 TV spots, Marvel would stop releasing new clips. I was wrong. We’re now on TV spot 23. Not only that, but one of the main facets of the film that had been kept secret has now ALSO been released.

I mean, at this stage, what’s the point? If I didn’t live in Britain and still had to wait another week for this, I’d be tearing my hair out at how over-the-top Marvel  have gone with something that really didn’t need all that much hyping.

So here, ten days after my initial post, I’m going to amend my guess at the plot one last time before I see the film this evening. Tomorrow, I’ll follow through with a review, without spoiling the film (I read a review yesterday that spent four paragraphs going through the basic plot of the films opening; pretty sure you’re not meant to do that).

Here we go (obviously, potential spoilers ahead):

I’m still pretty confident with the majority of this first section:

  • The film starts with The Avengers as a unit; they’ve been together some amount of time since the end of The Winter Soldier, acting as a fill-in for S.H.I.E.L.D., funded by Iron Man and led by Captain America.
  • Together they stage an attack on a Hydra cell in Europe, and in the process come into conflict with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who have been empowered by Baron Strucker.
  • The Avengers take down most of the cell, and reclaim Loki’s staff from the first film. Black Widow reveals a deeper relationship with Bruce Banner as she calms the Hulk. Meanwhile, the twins escape.
  • The team regroup at the Avengers tower, after struggling with what they have just faced. However, they are one step closer to ending all the problems they have collectively caused over the years and going their separate ways.
  • Inviting War Machine and some other friends to the tower, Tony holds a party. As things begin to die down,Ultron (the combined brainchild of Tony and Bruce, now empowered by the scepter) reveals himself, and exclaims that the only way to achieve the peace they have all dreamed of is to wipe-out mankind.
  • After taking down his original form, Ultron’s A.I. escapes, but not before wiping out J.A.R.V.I.S. Rebuilding himself multiple times, he crosses the Atlantic and seeks out the twins, who are hateful of the Avengers due to Stark’s weapons having been the cause of their family’s death.

This next section is where some minor additions can be put in, but not much in the way of changes, unfortunately:

  • The team come to blows, as they now realize they cannot trust Tony, despite the fact he funds the whole operation. Eventually, they set aside their differences and reunite to go find Ultron.
  • The Avengers track Ultron and the twins down to somewhere around Africa, where Ultron has come to collect a metal known as Vibranium from a man named Ulysses Klaue (played by Andy Serkis as set up for Black Panther). They engage them once again, as the Scarlet Witch reveals the true extent of her powers, altering the minds of several of the team.
  • Whilst Captain America and Black Widow see their pasts, Tony see’s the destruction of the Avengers, and the Hulk is driven into a mad rage. Activating a fail-safe, Tony summons his Hulk-buster armor to the scene, and engages the Hulk in Johannesburg.
  • Ultron and the twins defeat the rest of the Avengers, and Ultron plans to launch his gathered nuclear arsenal at the world, but is stopped by the secret intervention of what remains of J.A.R.V.I.S…
  • Now scattered and in disarray, the Avengers retreat to Hawkeye‘s family cabin where they must once more put aside their differences. Cap and Tony enter a heated argument, seeding Steve’s next film, Civil War.
  • Whilst the other Avengers are at Hawkeye’s cabin, Thor has returned to Asgard, to seek more answers in regards to the Infinity Stones that are continuing to plague him and his friends; the Cube, the Scepter, the Aether and the Orb.
  • The team are brought together once again by Nick Fury, who insists they are humanity’s only chance of surviving Ultron.
  • Meanwhile, the twins come to blows with Ultron, when they realize the true extent of his plans.

What with this clip having now been shown, the content is less speculation so much as the location; it could well happen before the Avengers go to fight Ultron and the twins, but this seems like a safe bet:

  • Reuniting at Stark tower, the team reassembles, as J.A.R.V.I.S. manifests himself in a physical body that the team have recovered from Ultron, code-named: The Vision, who engages Thor as he struggles to come to terms with his new physicality.
  • The Avengers team-up with the twins, as Ultron plans to raise a city into the sky, and hurl it back at Earth as a weapon. Boarding the floating city, the Avengers engage Ultron’s army of… Ultrons.
  • Eventually, they win, obviously, as the Vision returns and kills his father/mentor/brother/whatever that is Ultron.

A potential death? Quicksilver, as a means of cementing Scarlet Witch’s allegiance to the Avengers.

  • The Avengers have saved the day, but realize they can no longer trust each other. Iron Man leaves the team, as does Thor, who must return to Asgard to halt the upcoming Ragnarok. Oh, and the Hulk’s probably lost in space when Ultron raises the city or something.
  • Without their main players, Captain America forms a new team of Avengers, consisting of Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, with Black Widow and the Vision as possibilities. Black Panther is also a possibility, although I doubt it.
  • Finally, in the mid-credits scene, Thanos tires of his lackey’s constantly failing him, steps up off of his throne and recovers his ‘Infinity’ Gauntlet, exclaiming that he will just recover the stones himself in preparation for Infinity War.

Which is kind of boring really, the leaked fake Spider-Man ending wasn’t great, but it was a bit more fun. Oh well, Civil War isn’t too far off…

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Avengers: Age of Over-saturation

I’m allowing myself a break from my screenplay assignment for two reasons: the first being I’ve already written four drafts, and I need to move onto other things, and the second being I have Avengers: Age of Ultron constantly on my mind.

You all know the story, but here it is anyway, as narrated my Mr. Samuel L. Jackson:

All those (three) years ago, it was necessary to hype up such a thing as the Avengers. Sure, it was always going to do pretty well, but then nothing like this had ever really been done before. There were the X-Men and the Fantastic Four, but they built all their characters up in their own films, it wasn’t an ensemble piece like Avengers Assemble.

Now here we are, three years on, and the Avengers are reassembling to fight Ultron, a villain of their own making. But just like the market is getting slowly over-saturated with super-hero movies and television shows, our screens are way past saturation point with commercials and advertisements. The first Avengers film guaranteed that people would go see the second even if there was pretty much no marketing done for it, beyond a little info-drop about when it would be released.

But despite this, we’ve already had countless previews thrown at us, to the extent that, by the end of this post, I believe I can pretty accurately lay down the plot of the film. Fortunately for me, I live in Britain, so I only have to wait nine days or so, unlike all you unlucky Americans who have to wait until May.

So, obviously, if you’re adverse to trailers, look away, and if you’re worried I may be right (which at this stage shouldn’t be hard, considering we’ve all probably seen a good half of the film in two-minute snippets) then again, look away, because here goes nothing!

So first, we’ve got the main trailers:

In those alone, you get a pretty hefty look at the film. And then you’ve got the TV spots, which are packed with details:

Already, that’s a lot of info. Although it has neglected a lot of details about Paul Bettany’s Vision character. But as if all those weren’t enough, there are clips as well:

I’ll admit I hadn’t seen all of that second one before. I can’t say Im a fan of the way Ultron’s lips move; looks too cartoon-y. I always thought that was the worst part of the Transformers franchise as well (y’know, apart from the abominable plot), but I digress.

After all that, then there’s still all the promotional material like the Audi adverts. But frankly, I can’t be bothered with all those. I’d say this bulk is more than enough.

So, what have we got so far?

Going off those videos and any promotional interviews, we know the following:

  • The film starts with The Avengers as a unit; they’ve been together some amount of time since the end of The Winter Soldier, acting as a fill-in for S.H.I.E.L.D. and funded by Iron Man.
  • Together they stage an attack on a Hydra cell in Europe, and in the process come into conflict with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, who have been empowered by Baron Strucker.
  • The Avengers take down most of the cell, and reclaim Loki’s staff from the first film. Black Widow reveals a deeper relationship with Bruce Banner as she calms the Hulk. Meanwhile, the twins escape.
  • The team regroup at the Avengers tower, after struggling with what they have just faced. However, they are one step closer to ending all the problems they have collectively caused over the years and going their separate ways.
  • Inviting War Machine and some other friends to the tower, Tony holds a party. As things begin to die down, Ultron (the combined brainchild of Tony and Bruce, now empowered by the scepter) reveals himself, and exclaims that the only way to achieve the peace they have all dreamed of is to wipe-out mankind.
  • After taking down his original form, Ultron’s A.I. escapes, but not before wiping out J.A.R.V.I.S. Rebuilding himself, he crosses the Atlantic and seeks out the twins, who are hateful of the Avengers due to their standing as a representation of American power.

Another potential death here could be that of Rhodey, seeing as he doesn’t appear in anymore promotional material.

  • The team come to blows, as they now realize they cannot trust Tony, despite the fact he funds the whole operation. Eventually, they set aside their differences and reunite to go find Ultron.
  • The Avengers track Ultron and the twins down to somewhere around Africa, where Ultron has come to collect a metal known as Vibranium from a man named Ulysses Klaue (played by Andy Serkis). They engage them once again, as the Scarlet Witch reveals the true extent of her powers, altering the minds of several of the team.
  • Whilst Captain America and Black Widow see their pasts, Tony see’s the destruction of the Avengers, and the Hulk is driven into a mad rage. Activating a fail-safe, Tony summons his Hulk-buster armor to the scene, and engages the Hulk in Johannesburg.
  • Now scattered and in disarray, the Avengers retreat to a cabin (possibly owned by Hawkeye‘s family) where they must once more put aside their differences. Cap and Tony enter a heated argument, seeding Steve’s next film, Civil War.
  • Whilst the other Avengers are at Hawkeye’s cabin, Thor has returned to Asgard, to seek out his own solutions, and perhaps confront Loki/Odin.
  • The team are brought together once again by Nick Fury, who insists they are humanity’s only chance of surviving Ultron.
  • Meanwhile, the twins come to blows with Ultron, when they realise the true extent of his plans.

This next part is pure speculation, but I’m not sure where else it would fit in.

  • Reuniting at Stark tower, the team reassembles, as J.A.R.V.I.S. manifests himself in a physical body, code-named: The Vision.
  • Thor returns, and engages the Vision, whom he sees only as an agent of Ultron, and drives him off.
  • Now mostly reunited, the Avengers team-up with the twins, as Ultron plans to raise a city into the sky, and hurl it back at Earth as a weapon. Boarding the floating city, the Avengers engage Ultron’s army of… Ultrons.
  • Eventually, they win, obviously, as the Vision returns and kills his father/mentor/brother/whatever that is Ultron.

Another potential death? Quicksilver, as a means of cementing Scarlet Witch’s allegiance to the Avengers.

  • The Avengers have saved the day, but realise they can no longer trust each other. Iron Man leaves the team, as does Thor, who must return to Asgard to halt the upcoming Ragnarok. Oh, and the Hulk’s probably lost in space when Ultron raises the city.
  • Without their main players, Captain America forms a new team of Avengers, consisting of Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, with Black Widow and the Vision as possibilities. Black Panther is also a possibility, although I doubt it.

So yeah. That happened. Or will happened. I’ll tell you in a week and a half. I’m kind of curious to see how I did, but also kind of annoyed that there’s this much out there.

I’m sure Joss Whedon will have found a way to stick a whole load of extra material in there, but as a person with no self-control, it is rather annoying that I’ve watched all this stuff. It’s probably why I drink and smoke so much. In my future I see gambling problems, getting in with the mob, and dying young. But at least before that happens, I’ll be able to tell my killers that I accurately predicted a film, and perhaps they’ll let me hang around as an informant.

I’ll tell you how that goes too. Assuming I survive the experience.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Comic Books, Film & TV

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,