Thursday, May 7, 2015

Avenging in the Age of Ultron

This is a bit late, but I recently managed to see the new Marvel movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron in theater. In fact, I saw it a day before its official release, but really didn't get around to talking about it until now. So, here it goes.

First of all, this is basically more of the same. I know the commercial's try to peg this as a darker and more serious movie than the first one, and that would be okay if that was what we got here. However, it's not. There are some darker moments, mostly related to visions, but for the most part this film remains as fun and focused on adventure as the first movie did.

And that's actually a great thing!

It's not as serious and character focused as Captain America: Winter Soldier, or as over the top crazy as Guardians of the Galaxy, but retains the original charm the first movie had. Now, if the only thing you liked about the first movie was that it had all these characters together in film form for the first time, you're bound to be disappointed here. There is simply no way they can replicate that intangible feeling again. What they can do, is make it much better.

The question is, did they? The answer? Oh yes.

I would recommend ignoring the critics in regard to this film. Not to say they have no valid points, as they most likely do. The thing is, a lot of the criticisms are overblown by people who want the superhero explosion to go away and bring us back to films of pointless nihilism and preachy social commentary that audiences have all but hated since Hollywood has been trying to force feed it to them. Any criticism that goes beyond "it's ridiculous" or "too goofy" are reviewing the wrong film. Simple as.

So what makes this film so good? Well, it's ridiculous, fun, and goofy. Like every good adventure story. Which means that if you enjoy adventure stories like about 99% of all the best stories ever written, then you should be good to go. If you expect a boring slog about how people are terrible and pointless, then this really isn't for you.

You have the billionaire playboy who has grown up tremendously over the course of three films, the man out of time who is slowly but surely learning his place in the world, the demi-god learning humility and the importance of grace, the man who wears his inner monster on the outside for the world to see, the woman with the shady past who is trying her best to live in the light, and the moral compass-- a soldier who is both the most human and the one with the most to lose. It's a fascinating cast of characters that work so well because we've seen them in their own films grow and now face challenges that they can only face with each other.

The action scenes are pretty insane. Every character both villain and hero fight their best for their own ideals and the fate of the world. It's energizing stuff.

Ultron, the villain himself is a bit fascinating. A machine the runs off of emotions, he is literally the counterpoint of Spock from Star Trek. Watching his plan unfold is literally like watching someone throw all reason out for a feeling, like abandoning your family for a one night stand. His counterpoint in the film, a being of grace, compassion, and reason, is an excellent way to show just how far off the rails a man (or machine, in this case) can get.

Of course, the biggest surprise is the length of the film. It is near three hours long, but doesn't feel like it, which is incredible. If anything, I could go for an extended cut with more if Mr. Whedon is willing to indulge us.

Basically, if you enjoyed the first film, this one is a step up in every way. It's a tightly directed action adventure epic with heroes and villains that are larger than life.

What could be better than that?

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