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Movie Breakdown: Avengers: Age Of Ultron (Noah)

April 30, 2015

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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!

The Impression:

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.

The Reality:

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.

The Lesson:

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.

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Movie Breakdown: Avengers: Age Of Ultron

April 29, 2015

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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!

The Impression:

Joss Whedon and the Avengers have re-assembled to take on a maniacal AI named Ultron.  The film looks like a superhero lover’s wet dream.

The Reality:

Once the credits hit the screen I strolled out and happily marked Avengers: Age of Ultron as “very good” on the press comment card that had been handed to me.  I mean, what other grade could I possibly give it?  Joss Whedon’s latest dip into the Marvel Cinematic Universe had just wowed me with its plethora of superheroes and villains, snappy dialogue and immense action sequences, and I was feeling great about it. However, once I got home and had some time to let the film bounce around in my head, I liked it less and less.  Yes, it certainly delivers the necessary flashiness to be 2015′s first revered blockbuster, but when you compare it to other MCU movies, I think it’s at best a B-.

I have a long list of things (mostly minor) that I didn’t quite care for in Age of Ultron, but for the sake of your time I’ll just break it down to three key items.

My first main issue is with Ultron, who isn’t quite the menacing, monologuing villain from the trailers and is instead Whedon in robot form making wisecracks and generally coming off as too goofy to ever make you think he’s a real threat for the Avengers.  When we all know Thanos is coming, shouldn’t the current villain be scary enough to make us dread his arrival?  I think so.

Secondly, the film is too big.  When it comes to blockbusters and comic book flicks, I know that people want to see the screen explode with craziness, but Age of Ultron is a bit much.  There are so many characters (for instance, my superhero count was at 11 by the end of the movie), subplots and items from previous films that need to be remembered that it’s almost at the point where Marvel’s future efforts may need to come with a guide.

Contrarily, the film isn’t big enough.  Once I had some time to really digest Age of Ultron, I couldn’t help but notice how much of it either felt abbreviated or just didn’t make a lot of sense.  Thor takes a weird trip to a cave, there’s not a lot to be known about Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, Baron Strucker is in it for about 30 seconds, and on and on.  Why not put out a healthy three-hour adventure (as opposed to two hours and 22 minutes)?  Audiences would have eaten it up just the same and a more well rounded film would have come out of it.

As I said, there are some other minor things, but those are the issues that really stuck out.  Regardless of it all though, you should still most definitely see Avengers: Age of Ultron this weekend.  Just be sure to manage your expectations.

The Lesson:

Even a Marvel misstep can still make a billion dollars.  They’re unstoppable.

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