Monday, May 4, 2015

Some Reassembly Required!

Avengers - Age of Ultron is a pretty dang good superhero movie. That said, it's not a great one.

It's difficult to discuss the movie in any way without ruining it for those who haven't yet had the chance, but I'll try then give over to spoilers. So read with care, I will warn you.

The action in this one is splendid and there is lots of of it. Action, action, action! From the very beginning of the movie right to the end we see lots of superheroes fighting atrocious villains, and the fate of the world properly hangs in the balance nearly all the time.

We are presented with a good array of types, something the Avengers is perfect for, from the grounded Hawkeye with his arrows and wit to Thor with is momentous hammer. Iron Man is, as always, key to the story, but in this one I found Captain America asserting himself more, assuming his proper role as leader of the team very effectively.

We are given a surprising romance, two of them really. And we are given some new heroes to root for before the end of the world approaches. But enough generalities. Beyond this point there be spoilers galore...tread carefully.




The ending of the movie offered a great surprise. I stay away from the press on these as much as I can so I can try to enjoy the stories themselves and the fact this movie saw an ending to one team and beginning of another was a real joy. Those constant transitions are what make The Avengers distinctive from its template The Justice League of America. The Avengers early on established that different collections of heroes could wear the mantle and answer the call. We get that here, at the end with "Cap's and the Widow's Kooky Quartet" of Scarlet Witch, Vision, War Machine, and Falcon.

I was bitterly disappointed to see the abrupt demise of Baron Stucker, who in my estimation deserved more screen time. I haven't been following SHIELD this season, but I strongly suspect the HYDRA plot lines wrapped up in the first half hour of the move are nod in that direction.

The opening battle sequence was magnificent, and sadly was never topped throughout the movie. The location of the forest really gave the fight a distinctive character while the later war zone in the cityscape seemed a bit too much like the NYC battle in the first movie for me.

Liked Ultron, especially early, though I did find him a bit repetitive by the end of the movie. Loved the Vision and hope for the best on that front. He seems to be the Adam Warlock of this particular Marvel yarn and bodes poorly for any future relationship with the ultimate big bad Thanos who promises to finally get off his Saturnian keister and take a hand (or glove I guess) in the proceedings directly next time.

As for romance, I found the sparks between Banner and Natasha surprising, but never really all that interesting, though it did allow a rationale to control the Hulk. Much more satisfying was Hawkeye's secret brood, and finally we get close up reality to contrast with the amazing. I will admit that it was perhaps a bit too Hallmark card-like in places, but a nice touch nonetheless.

Loved the trip to Wakanda and all that opens up. Klaue was nicely realized and I clearly expect more out of this guy now that he's been reduced to a single arm. The battle between the Hulkbuster armor and old Jadejaws was literally a blockbuster and delivered a great energy to the center of the flick, like it needed more action. At least this was over-the-top action, and reminded me of some of Hulk's best battles, mostly with Thor. 

Sad to see Quicksilver go. He was more charming than I expected given the images I'd seen. They were so clearly setting Hawkeye up for the Grim Reaper (Hey when is he showing up by the way?) that Pietro became victim of the misdirection. I'm glad to see Clint Barton survive because the death of the father of the few kids in the movoe would've been too tough for the audience I was with, filled to the tip top with tots.




Avengers - The Rise of Ultron is a humdinger, certainly entertaining. But perhaps I'm getting jaded with all the great new superhero movies, as this one didn't really elevate the form to a new status. It was more of the same, but exceedingly so. I suspect that elevation will be the job of "World's Finest" team next season, at least I hope so.

Saw the trailer for Ant-Man, it should be fun.  And the Fantastic Four looked very good, if a bit more traditional than I at first suspected.

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