People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different. In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all. Read on!
I smoked some wacky tobacky (dictionary spelling) and sat down to watch the two-and-half-hour epic that is the first Avengers film, a film I remember loving in the theater. After 30 minutes of what felt like a pretty bad episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I fell into a hazy sleep, the high chance of Age of Ultron totally blowing, resting heavy on my mind.
When it comes to a film of this magnitude – in terms of star power, action sequences, general ideas – I don’t know if you need to beat around the bush to say how you feel about it. I loved this film. Unabashedly. I don’t know if it’s because Hollywood’s incessant need to batter my skull with famous people dodging explosions and beating up aliens has finally inured me to the overt flaws a film like this carries with it, or if The Avengers: Age of Ultron just pushed all of those geek buttons I’ve been quietly tending since my first pair of glasses got punched off my face, but this film WOWed me. Director Joss Whedon thrusts our erstwhile team of superheroes back into the fray when a sentient robo-device named Ultron (James Spader) decides that humanity, stupid stupid humanity, needs to be expunged. That’s all you really need to know. The Avengers fight a whole bunch of robots, have some touching character moments (domestic Hawkeye!) and in the end the Marvel machine has made another gazillion dollar film and continued the course of its astounding, unbelievable series of films. Do we even look at these films as individual items anymore? Or do we wait until the 20-film arc has come to a close and then watch it like a we’d read a graphic novel, each individual piece becoming a more intricate part of a larger whole? Whoever you choose to do so, Age of Ultron is a kick-in-the-pants a full-fledged nerd-film (the cool, rich kind of nerd) made by a full-fledged nerd (Mr. Whedon) to sate the expansive nerd-energy of a world slowly turning to nerds (nerds!). There are moments in this film – the reveal of The Vision, the bumper at the end, the first time Bruce Banner says “Wakanda” – that hit the nerd populace so perfectly, it’s almost unbelievable that we’ve reached this point where these things can happen on screen and it’s not entirely unbelievable. Sure, the film has problems – Ultron is all robo-chatter and not much conclusion, the sheer spectacle can be a little draining – but all-in-all this is the best big-screen blockbuster since … well, Jesus, I don’t even know. It’s a great film, the first truly fantastic summer movie we’ve had in years.
Marvel Studio has developed what I like to call a “soft ending.” They blaze through their set-ups and their character development and their big reveals but the end of their films always feel a little diluted. It’s because Marvel Studio’s endings have to be not only the ending to an individual film, but the beginning of new threads as well as a bridge to whatever comes next. Take Ultron, he’s got kind of weak ending in this film, but it’s because he’s the mid-arc bad guy. We’re all waiting for Thanos and if he shows up and Ultron’s already done all the devastating, then who’s going to care about a 7-ton purple guy with Josh Brolin’s growl rumbling out of his mouth? Well, me, but I’m special. So, this film has a soft ending, but are you really going to care when Iron Man and Captain America are face-punching each other next summer? No.