Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Movie Review- Age of Ultron

For those concerned about spoilers, relax, this is my spoiler free review. For those who have already seen the movie, I am writing an in-depth Age of Ultron discussion. Please come back and read the discussion after you have seen the movie.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Poster
When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it's up to Earth's Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

Wow, what a film. I would have to watch it several times to process it thoroughly, but I can tell you, it is well worth the money you spend going to see it in theaters. I can guarantee you that my family will be purchasing this movie once it comes out on DVD.

Like with any Marvel movie, this movie fits into a master plan, a magnificent vision that connects every character and storyline. Somehow every single plot thread has a purpose that weaves it into the grand tapestry. The minds behind Marvel movies are absolutely brilliant, and I applaud their genius. I can just see them all now, in some underground base with Stark-level tech, a whole array of cool outfits to "spur their creative genius", and an entire shrine of nerdy film memorabilia. Most likely the actors in these movies have visited this lair, but only after being blindfolded and driven by an unmarked, black car to an undisclosed location. Or maybe I have just seen too many of their movies, and in reality they all work in an office with florescent lighting with a decent coffee pot and a mini-fridge. Regardless, they are brilliant.

There are many aspects of this movie that I did not entirely grasp, hence my reading of several INCREDIBLY geeky articles today that enabled me to put the puzzle pieces together. I suggest if you don't understand something from the movie that you hit the Internet.

What I Loved

I promised no spoilers, so I can't really give any specifics. Again, read my in-depth discussion once you have seen the movie, then we can freak out together. However, I will say a few generalized things.

The writers of this movie did a fantastic job with character development. I often feel like the writers of television shows and movies drop the ball when it come to believable character development. I think that they grow lazy, and rather than observing how people actually develop and evolve as human beings, the writers just make something up that is ridiculous and over-dramatized. Not so with this movie. The writers did a fantastic job showing character development that was believable and sweet. For example, I was concerned that they would do a poor job showing the closer friendship between Cap and Widow that had been developed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I was wrong to doubt them, they did a very nice job with that relationship along with all of the others.

Hawkeye was a very little used Avenger in the first Avengers movie. He actually only had a little over twelve minutes of screen time, and most of that he spent as a puppet to the premier Asgardian diva of our age, Loki. In truth, Hawkeye actually seems to have a decently sized fan base, and I think that the writers of AofU wanted to reward those fans with more of their favorite Marvel archer. Hawkeye fans, this movie should delight and thrill you. Hawkeye in many ways was the anchor that this movie, and his fellow Avengers, needed. We got to see so much more of who he is....and he is awesome.

The global scale of this movie was an excellent way to show just how much this universe has expanded. We saw so many characters that we already know and love, and heard references to many others, some of them new. I know Marvel is working on tying a lot more separate storylines together in future movies, and I love it.

Humor, as always, Marvel does a lovely job of weaving humor throughout their very intense movies. How many times have you laughed over lines like, "I'm not kissing you!" (Captain America: The First Avenger), "Shakespeare in the park? Doth mother knoweth you weareth her drapes?" (Avengers), and, "Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather." (Thor: The Dark World) I always look forward to the high class humor that Marvel provides.

Captain America is my sweetheart and a doll, enough said.

I would say so much more, but I promised no spoilers in this review, and I try to keep my word.

What I Didn't Like

It's very hard to say what I didn't like without giving away spoilers. So this will be a short section.

I was not a fan of some of the plot choices, but I cannot say anything about them. Some of the directions taken by the story did not fit my personal preference, and I think I am not alone, but no one can be 100% pleased all of the time.

There was only one end scene!!! Really? I have come to expect at least two end scenes in all of your movies Marvel, how dare you let me down!

My personal movie experience was lessened by the fact that our screen was jerky, and there was a gentleman in our theater who kept coughing whenever a quiet line was said. Really? I do believe sir that a true gentleman would have stayed home if he knew that he was going to be so loud. Oh, and Mr. Shake-My-Candy-Box, you do realize how rude that is right? What, are you afraid to go in after the stray Skittles or Milk Duds with your hand? Are you being prissy about sticky fingers? Bring a hand wipe next time and hush up! But in truth, none of these things are Marvel's fault.

Typically here I would write a section on the characters, but I am going to save that section for my in-depth discussion so that I can truly express all of my feelings.

Overall I would give this movie a 4 1/2 star review. If you are wondering the reason for the half star, well, you will just have to see the movie for yourself.

(N-Depth) Movie Discussion- Age of Ultron

This is my first of my new "N-Depth" posts where I discuss movies on a much deeper level. For those of you who have a fear of spoilers be of good courage, these posts will enable me to get out all of my "feels" about a movie and also enable me to write spoiler-free reviews.

Now, down to business.

Phase 2 of Marvel's movies definitely had a different feeling than the Phase 1 movies. Those were origin stories, more lighthearted and framed like fun adventures. I've seen Avengers countless times and I still enjoy it as fun movie where I can get a good laugh and some good explosions/fight scenes.

But just like every phase has to come to a close, and a new, often more serious one begins, so we must accept that Marvel is also getting down to the serious business of writing superhero movies with greater consequences and gravity. Avengers: Age of Ultron was definitely the most desperate of our Phase 2 movies.

The Avengers themselves were each tested, made mistakes, and had to come to grips with who they were, and what their choices had cost the world. Yeah, I wouldn't want to be Tony Stark right now.

It seemed appropriate to start with Tony Stark/Iron Man, since it is thanks to him that we have Ultron in the first place. Without a doubt, you can depend on Tony to come up with a funny line. His delivery of humorous lines is just fantastic, he and Han Solo rank up there among the best of 'em. Tony is amazing with inventions, gadgets, and all other sorts of techy/nerdy paraphernalia. I said all of that to let you know that I truly do love Tony. That being said, Age of Ultron revealed in a deeper way some fatal flaws in Tony's approach to the world. He's always been the smartest, he's always been the richest, and he's always the guy with all of the answers. In Tony's world, there is no God, no, he is the god. He sincerely believes that it is his job to save/protect the world, to decide how to do that, and then to carry it out. Hence, Ultron. But in truth, Tony takes on way more responsibility than should be given to any one man. In Age of Ultron, Tony was prompted by fear to create something to protect the entire world. I don't blame the guy for being afraid, and I believe that he made the mistake because he cares so much, but as long as anyone tries to play God, there will be consequences. I do think that Tony realized some of this by the end of the movie, where he was much humbler and decided to step away from the chaos for a while. As far as his interaction with the other Avengers goes I really enjoyed it. There was such a sense of teamwork and a deep bond between them. I also think that he and Steve had developed a greater appreciation and understanding for each other, very different from the first Avengers. They are polar opposites in many ways, but there is a definite connection. Unfortunately, the lines were definitely drawn for the next Captain America movie, Civil War, and I dread to see Tony and Steve at odds. I do, however, believe that in their heart of hearts, they care enough about each other to reconcile in the end. Even the best of friends fight each other. One of Tony's Best Lines- "That man has no regard for lawn maintenance."

Now on to my favorite guy. One moment while I look at this poster....ok, I'm back. Ah, what to say. Cap, or Steve, has had a roller coaster of a journey. He's been at this game longer than anyone else on earth. He has been the man of his time, then a man out of time, and now a man adjusted to the time but with the same principles. It takes quite an individual to go through what he has endured and still remain intact with what you believe. Cap is the definite leader of the Avengers when it comes to tactics and strategies, he's a soldier, so he already has the mind for combat situations and the many variables involved. But more than that, Cap is always thinking on a moral level, with preservation of human life and freedom as his number one priority. While all of the Avengers work hard to protect people, no one else lives it out so thoroughly as Cap. I ached for him in this movie, as I have ached for him in every movie. When Scarlet Witch gave Cap a vision it was of a dance back in the 1940s, where everyone was celebrating the end of the war. He kept looking around at all of the people celebrating. Yet all he could hear were the sounds of war. The cameras flashing were like explosions, spilling drinks were spilling blood, and the entire vision had a red overcast to it. And then, Peggy, the love of his life, comes up behind him and asks for her dance. He can't stop looking around, not even when she says, "Steve, the war is over, we can go home now." And suddenly, it's all gone, the room is empty, Peggy is no longer there, and he is left alone. This sums up how Steve feels about his life. His entire adult life has been about war, and while he used to dream of a home and a family, he has lost hope that that will ever be his reality. It's like that dream grew old with Peggy. He has given up on the idea of a family and settled with the idea of being a soldier for the rest of his life. I don't blame Cap for feeling that way, but honestly, it scared me that he set his face in the direction. I feel like they are setting him up so that he is unattached and heroic, and then, a few movies from now, he will die some heroic death. That is definitely one option they could take, or, and this is the one I am hoping for, maybe they are setting him up to meet some incredible person who helps him realize he can have a life besides one of war, and maybe he would decide to retire and have a family. I doubt it will happen, but a girl can dream. Cap's Best Line- "If you get hurt, hurt 'em back, if you get killed, walk it off!"

I feel like Widow has evolved the most of all of the Avengers. She has the most horrible background story of anybody, and while she hides it well, you can often see the torment behind her eyes. She has come so far as a human being. Opening up her heart, allowing herself to be vulnerable, and allowing herself to feel. I think her friendship with people like Hawkeye, Steve, and even to a degree, Nick Fury has really helped. She is open now, ready for the next step. I believe she is even getting war-weary, and would just like to find a place, and a man, to settle with. I adored her sweet romance with Bruce Banner. The fact that she picked him out of a group very deliberately and said, "You, I want you." He almost can't fathom it. They were very beautiful together. Both have experienced some pretty horrendous trauma. I believe they feel something in the common that there are pieces of themselves that they despise, and no matter how much good they do, they both fear what they are capable of. She was so alone at the end of the movie, Banner had taken the easy, and what he believes is noble, way out and left her alone. I can't wait to see what Marvel does with these two, their stories are too compelling to leave hanging. In a way, she and Steve are in the same boat. They both have nothing else to turn to other than being soldiers. Oh well, at least they have each other as friends. I dearly hope that Marvel gives them both a deserving ending. Her Best Line- "I adore you....*kisses Banner and then shoves him off of ledge*....but I need the other guy right now."

Bruce, Bruce, BRUCE! Oh baby, it's time to give yourself a break. Banner is so adorable. He is this insanely intelligent guy who has a heart of gold, and the macho rating of about zero. Think about it, his best guy friends are all macho just by their very existence, and here he is, the rather shy dork who would be more at home in a lab or with children than fighting alien invaders. I think this is why Widow loves him, she doesn't see him as the Hulk, the thing he fears most, she sees him for the gentle and complicated human being that he is. He almost can't believe that anyone could feel for him like she does, but he responds so eagerly to her affection. It broke my heart when he was crying for her as she was relating a bit of her past, the fact that her ability to have children was taken from her. She is very much a broken woman, and he is very much a broken man. But together, they feel a little bit more whole. And then at the end of the movie, he leaves without a trace, believing that he is doing the right thing for Natasha. *Bangs head on wall repeatedly* Oh Banner, come home! She's waiting for you, come home sweetheart! Don't live in fear anymore! You won't hurt her, you will take care of her. Go home, she needs you. I do believe that Banner will eventually have to make a choice to embrace the Hulk as well as he embraces his scientific genius. His journey is taking longer than we'd hoped, but he is making progress. I just can't wait until he arrives there, and I certainly hope that Natasha is there waiting for him when he does. Banner's best line- "Uh, guys, is this a code green? Guys?"

On to our favorite Asgardian prince! Thor was a bit more detached emotionally from this film than he was the last Avengers. But considering that it was his confused and dramatic younger brother on a killing spree the last time, it is understandable. Thor's evolution was very defined. He went from being a war monger and self-centered jerk to a wise and kind man. He has great power, but he doesn't abuse it. Honestly, his part in Age of Ultron was a little difficult for me to follow. I believe they intended for the events surrounding him to be a bit more cryptic. Or maybe I am just a stupid earthling who can't comprehend the mysteries of the MCU, but I highly doubt that. I did enjoy Thor's more relaxed attitude. He has obviously been spending more time on earth, and has learned to loosen up some of that Asgardian formality and just chill out. I especially enjoyed his scenes surrounding the party near the beginning of the movie. His ''my girl is better than your girl" competition with Tony was adorable. I wish they could have brought Jane into this movie, their relationship together is the cutest. He's so big, she's so little, and he worships the ground she walks on. Adorable. I expect we will see a lot more of his influence as more is revealed about the Infinity stones, since he has a wider knowledge of the overall universe than any other Avenger. Thor's Best Line- "Jane's better."

I'm not entirely sure what to say about Vision here. I didn't entirely understand his conception, all I know is that he ended up with all of the good that Ultron was supposed to have. Sorta like Luke somehow got all of the good stuff from Padme, but avoided the junk from his father Anakin. Vision was a mysterious character, and I found him intriguing. I don't know exactly what he is, but I know that he feels steady, peaceful, and focused. He somehow managed to get the true message out of Ultron's scrambled ideas, and has a much better perspective on the world. His voice is very soft and soothing, and his eyes are beautiful. I am interested to see what they do with him in the future. Oh, and I definitely saw some sparkles between him and Scarlet Witch, whom he actually marries in the comics. How that works in real life, I have no idea, but let me tell you this, beautiful eyes will be passed on to their offspring. Vision's Best Line- "I was born yesterday."

"He's fast and she's weird." Thanks Hill, for summing that up. Scarlet Witch/Wanda was beautiful for starters, her eyes were huge, and you could tell that despite her pain, her heart was tender. I adored the relationship between her and her twin brother. While she was immensely powerful, she still allowed herself to be sheltered and protected by her brother. I think that shows a sweet vulnerability about her that makes her more approachable. I loved watching her movements, Elizabeth Olsen trained with a dance choreographer rather than a stunt trainer. It was noticeable, she was graceful and dramatic. I like how she has to feel the effects of whatever she does to other peoples' minds. That'll make you think twice about messing with someone else's brain. I feel like she has got huge potential as a character, and I can't wait to see more of her. Wanda's Best Line- "It's my job."

Oh Quicksilver! You whooshed onto our screens, into our hearts, and then, YOU DIED!!! WHAT THE HECK!?!? I did NOT see that coming, and I am still aching over it. Quicksilver/Pietro was simply adorable. He had a fun, almost boyish attitude, and definitely an ornery streak (ha, streak, see what I did there :) I adored, I mean, adored the relationship between him and his sister. She was his first priority, and they seemed to share one heart. I couldn't believe it when he died, it was so sudden, and entirely unexpected. I don't know what to say, only that I hope Cap's line of, "If you get killed, walk it off" was meant for him. I have some hope, considering that we thought Coulson was dead in Avengers, yet through the efforts of his intrepid fan base he was brought back to life and given his own show. Return to us Quicksilver, return dear boy! Pietro's Best Line- "What, you did not see that coming?" 

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I saved the best Avenger in this particular movie for last....

Yes ladies and gents, Hawkeye was the shining character, the anchor, the foundation of the Avengers team. He was the solid ground that kept them all from plunging into the abyss. I know, that sounds disloyal for a diehard Cap babe, but believe me, Cap would want me to tell you all the truth. In the Avengers, Hawkeye had a little over twelve minutes of screen time, not a lot of time to make an impression. Apparently the writers felt that it was about time to reveal just who this rugged and mysterious archer truly is. Hawkeye has a family! Yes, this stoic and still waters man has got the cutest little family this side of the Atlantic. It was so neat the way that they let you in on his dear little secret. The team is all broken up, Hulk just leveled a good chunk of a city, everyone else is shaken and traumatized, and Iron Man is feeling a huge weight on his shoulders. Quietly, Hawkeye takes them to the only safe place for them in the world at the moment, his home. A sprawling farmhouse that is sunny, cluttered, and full of love. If his wife, Laura, got any cuter, the screen would have cracked. Her pretty hair, gentle face, and adorable pregnant belly kind of make the movie for me. You saw the shift in him as soon as he stepped in the door of his home. He's not just a ruthless agent, he's a loving husband, and doting father. This sweet world is such a contrast to everything else in the Avengers' world, they were somewhat taken aback by it. I think it was very special the way the writers incorporated Hawkeye's home life into the dramatic and terrible events of this movie. It kept this movie grounded, and reminded you, and the other Avengers, that most of life is not just alien invasions and maniacal robots. It's families, and homes, and sweet, ordinary lives that make up the world. Hawkeye showed his clear head and wisdom during the final battle, something we didn't get to experience in Avengers. And while I ached, I hurt, when Quicksilver died, I am SO glad that Hawkeye made it. He had something to live for and some people to come home to, and I couldn't have been happier. One of Hawkeye's Best Lines- "No one would know...."

Final Thoughts

I loved the opening sequence, it was so action(y). The way the Avengers all clicked together to make the perfect team was just awesome. And that slow-mo action shot? Movie magic man, movie magic. That's the unique fun of superhero movies, they have the most awesome action shots.

I loved that Natasha gets to live somewhat vicariously through Hawkeye's family. She can never have a natural family of her own, but she can enjoy some of the sweet moments that can only be had in a family.

I love that Hawkeye's family was featured as a symbol of stability, beauty, and refuge. The way it was depicted was very complimentary of the high purpose and beauty of families.

I love that Falcon has joined the Avengers, he was one of the best aspects of Winter Soldier, and I can't wait to hear more from him.

The brave little tech guy (whom we have dubbed Sylvester) from The Winter Soldier has returned on the save-the-day hellicarrier! If you don't remember him, he was the one who stood up to Rumlow and said, "I'm not gonna launch those ships, Cap's orders." EEEE! I love this little dude, he was so courageous!

Banner come home!

Mr. Joss Whedon, we are begging you, bring Quicksilver back one day.

Cap, there is a future somewhere, you don't have to die.

Thanks for bearing with me folks, I know I can be longwinded, but like I said, this post is in-depth. There is much, much more to be said about the Avengers, but I believe I have said my fill.

Please, feel free to join the discussion in the comments, I love hearing feedback and would like to know what you thought of the movie.