Thursday, May 21, 2015

Movie Review: The Avengers: Age of Ultron

My schedule has such few, odd free hours at this point that I thought I just wouldn't have the time to see The Age of Ultron until sometime in June at this rate but as I was playing catch-up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I got to the tie-in episode and realized, I really wanted to see the movie right now! The tie-in seems to be that the "Operation THETA" that was mentioned a few times prior to the episode was Coulson working out a way to get into a HYDRA base to learn where Loki's scepter is and then I think they end the episode on the line "It's time to call in the Avengers." Oh and there's also a wonderful bit of Coulson sass earlier in the episode saying to someone "Here's Fury's toolbox, you can have it until he wants it back. Oh, spoilers." I'm so grumpy that they still aren't working this guy back into these movies since he really is my favorite Avenger. 

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

S.H.I.E.L.D. has collapsed and Hydra is once again a global threat and the Avengers are some of the manga people cleaning up their messes. They've finally got their hands on Loki's scepter again and it seems like the group will be splitting up soon as everyone returns to their smaller problems but, Stark has an idea. Still tormented by the idea of another alien invasion that threatens the world, he's been working on a defender of the Earth and thinks that this scepter might provide the intelligence he needs for it. Too bad with great intelligence comes the chance to choose how to best save the human race from itself.

This wasn't a bad movie but it was a very full movie which created a few problems I didn't expect from it. Apparently Whedon's own cut of the movie was an hour longer and had things in it like an alternate ending which is fascinating, I might do a whole post elsewhere on what I've heard was cut and link it in the round-up on Sunday since I have a lot of thoughts on that alone. For what was kept, I'm not saying that this was too much for a two and a half hour long movie but I did feel like the movie was overly jam packed both with too many action sequences (by the end I was so fatigued by them that even the CGI didn't look right to me anymore) and too many characters even though we were missing a few.

These crossover movies are now the only way that some characters get screentime (like Hawkeye, Hill, and Bruce Banner) so of course they have to be on screen as well as the rest of the Avengers who appear in their own films/other films (such as Natasha and Fury) and a few of the supporting cast from those movies since it doesn't make sense that they would suddenly leave their network behind just for these missions. And yet, those that were here (Falcon and Peggy for Cap, War Machine for Tony) still felt really disconnected from the story which both makes sense (this is The Avengers after all) and also doesn't, what about all of their own individual plot lines they had going on after their last movies?* I'm surprised that Thor is coming back to Earth so much (and that they brought back the crazy scientist for a pointless cameo and not Jane), I missed that there even was a reference to Cap's search for Bucky, I guess Natasha is still doing some spy things in addition to sitting in congressional hearings about SHIELD, and didn't Tony destroy a lot if not all of his Iron Man suits at the end of Iron Man 3? It can't be easy juggling this multiseries project but I do feel like there isn't quite enough conversation between all of the creative heads to keep everything cohesive at least on a continuity level (which I'll talk more about in my Agents of SHIELD review in a few weeks and in that "Whedon's cut" post).

These are problems I can see a lot of people overlooking however, or at least for as long as it takes to watch the movie and enjoy it, what's more pressing is the things that really took me out of the movie other than the overabundance of CGI. Ultron was a very weird, unsatisfying villain who inspired no pity or empathy in me because of just how quickly he went from "I'm born!" to "I will kill the entire human race!" and just felt like a very forgettable villain. The characterization for the twins also struggled a bit but did come together in the end, but I still maintain that one fewer action scene would have opened up so much time for further characterization! And as for something that fell really wrong: Natasha's romance. Putting aside the fact that the writer's seem to use her as the series "bicycle" and that the plot has indicated a different semi-romantic interest in a different guy in just about every movie so far, while her and Bruce's actions said "we've been growing closer for a while" while we the audience have never seen that! It makes the whole relationship seem rushed and an effort to cram in some romance into the film. Plus her "I can't have children, I'm a monster" line was really kind of terrible? I agree that the line was probably meant to go "I've done horrible things, I'm a monster" not "I can't have children, therefore I'm a monster" but you have to really think about that to connect the dots. Again, too many things for one movie makes everything suffer.

Finally, for a film about so many different characters, they didn't even feel like distinct characters. I laughed at plenty of the quips but you could put half of them in another character's mouth without any kind of rewriting, I felt like Whedon was falling back on his "if it's witty sounding it's good!" trait and again, reinforced that this was more characters than the movie could really handle. The best part of the movie was easily the party in the first act where we have time to see all of the characters, watch how their current relationships stand with each other, there are a few minutes of subtle character acting that make you feel clever for noticing, and that was a lot of fun too. I'm not sure I want to see an entire movie of everyone sitting down, drinking, and trying to pick up Thor's hammer but I think the writers need to give the audience credit and realize that they like that one (and try to be less OVERLY,  OVERTLY OBVIOUS when the next Infinity Stone appears, although by that time it will be Infinity Wars so I guess that would be the best time for an explanation....)    

*Side note, it seemed weird that the movie would go so far out of the way to mention Jane and Pepper over and over without showing them, although Pepper would have shut down the entire Ultron plot of the movie so fast it wouldn't even exist.