Archive for May, 2015

Thus far, I have written about movies that were a few years old, and I actually have a confession to make: the writings themselves were also kind of old. I was collecting my thoughts on comic book/nerd movies in the hopes that I would one day release them as a book. Of course, I was doing this in a small cabin in Montana. I don’t see the book happening, but that’s no reason to stop writing. I mean, the movies are still being made, so why not?

With that in mind, I wanted to get my thoughts down on the second Avengers installment, Age of Ultron. The trailers had been pretty spectacular, the amazing cast was back, as was the director. To say that almost everyone who knew about this movie was looking forward to it would be very accurate. It had to blow our socks off, right?


To answer that question, I look back to what I wrote about the first Avengers movie a couple years ago (but only posted a couple months ago. Must be that Time gem.) I said that a movie is like a meal and you sometimes have to see how it settles. And I wrote, “I have often left a theater feeling good about how I just spent the last couple hours, only to completely change my mind upon further reflection.” This was perhaps a bad philosophy to bring up so soon before seeing Age of Ultron, because this, unfortunately, is exactly what happened.

The plot of the film revolves around the mad robot Ultron, brought to consciousness by Tony Stark, who is looking for a way to police the planet from super-powered or alien invaders. Apparently, Tony had been noodling with this for awhile, but it was only when he and his comrades retrieved Loki’s mind-staff from Hydra that he realized it could be done. And done faster than he thought, because Ultron awakens and goes from one end of the Internet to the other in seconds, immediately changing him from a robotic, philosophy-spouting menace to something more like Jim Carrey’s Riddler in Batman Forever.  I knew the Internet made people dumber, and apparently it does the same for robots.

Using Stark and Bruce Banner’s revolutionary skin-regenerating technique, Ultron begins constructing a synthetic android, which he uses to house his conscience. He also begins constructing a bomb that will extinguish a mankind that he has deemed unworthy. To aid him in his quest, Ultron recruits The Twins; two enhanced siblings with a bone to pick with Iron Man. One twin can run really fast, and the other one can alter reality somehow. The movie never really explains what her deal is, but they are both really boring, so I don’t think it really matters. The only compelling thing about them is their horribly bad Russian accents.

Some of the Avengers kind of chase Ultron and his team while he’s doing this, when they’re not hanging out on Hawkeye’s farm that is. To show that Avengers are people, too, Whedon wrote in a whole sub-plot involving Hawkeye’s wife and children, which is really just a big set-up to make the audience think that Hawk is definitely going to be killed by the end. It also was just a reason to have Captain America and Iron Man sit around for awhile and squabble, basically to set up  Captain America: Civil War.

This is becoming the problem for all of these Marvel movies. While the Phase I movies were all made to build-up to the first Avengers, they were at least introducing us to characters we had never seen on the big screen before. The second time around, with no origin stories and now that we know everyone, I feel like I just paid a bunch of money to watch a two-and-a-half hour commercial for the next movie. The way to solve this seemed to be to introduce new characters, namely the twins and the a fore-mentioned android (The Vision), but while one of the cool things about the first movie was Whedon’s ability to juggle all those characters and still make a good movie, this time around, it seems like it’s just too much for him. There was a lot of crap going on, and none of the sub-plots seemed to matter because there was no time to focus on any of them. Every scene just happened and then whizzed right on to the next one.

By the time they reached the climax, I was pretty much tapped out. Which was fine because, much like the first one, the climax was mostly brainless. Basically the Avengers, plus The Vision, The Falcon, War Machine, Nick Fury, Agent Hill, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and probably Buffy and Spike, standing together, fighting off Ultron’s legion of, well, Ultrons. And like the aliens in the first one, the Ultrons proved to be a pretty ineffectual lot. Because the movie had never really built them up as villains, just like I wrote about the first Avengers, I never once believed that the good guys wouldn’t win in the end.

The interesting thing is that most of this rather anal analysis didn’t really hit me until I was talking about the movie with friends a few days later. While I was sitting through it, I kind of liked Age of Ultron. Yeah, it got a little long near the end, as the heroes were trying to evacuate an entire floating city in a few minutes. And there was some unexplained things, probably because there was no time to explain them (like when Black Widow was captured by Ultron, how was Bruce Banner able to just walk in and bust her out? Was no one guarding the place?) But overall, I wasn’t disappointed. I liked The Vision as a character, and I was glad that Hawkeye was able to go back to his family, and that he had a family. And the huge battle between Hulk and Iron Man was the funnest fisticuffs of all the Marvel movies so far. Unfortunately, my opinions on movies must be based on how they are, not how they are perceived. I enjoyed it while it was going on, but upon further review, there were just too many problems. This may be one of the few movies I’ve ever seen that I feel should be longer. I definitely didn’t hate it because it had some cool moments. But I can’t say I loved it because it was just too hyper. In the end, it maybe was the worse stance you could take on a movie: apathy.