Monday, 5 October 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

I think it was inevitable that this sequel would have a hard time satisfying the fans and critics. The first movie was not only a major first time event in showcasing all these superhero characters together on the big screen for the first time, but it was also a shock that it worked so well. Naturally there was the wow factor, the surprise, we were all wanting a hit but really, who knew. Everything in that movie was fresh and new (to a degree), mainly because this Avengers team were together for the first time doing it. So could this sequel carry the ever growing pressures of the hype machine?

Plot wise its pretty much as before, the A-team are up against an enemy who has a massive army of robot drones, as before when it was a massive army of aliens. The difference being the enemy has been inadvertently created by Stark, or least turned out to be evil which was not foreseen. This creation also kick starts the bickering within the team which will eventually lead to other movies, and there's one problem of the movie (and all Marvel movies now). These don't really feel like movies (to me), they feel more like a requirement, an obligation or constant filler merely to lead you into the next movie, and so on. Most of this movie is simply exposition and setups for other things that will happen in other movies, interspersed with high octane action. It never really feels like a stand alone movie, admittedly these comicbook movies aren't really like that of course, its all part of a wider universe (like the comics), but at times it kinda feels like you're being cheated.

Naturally things have to be bigger and better than before, thusly we have more characters to content with, more Avengers. All the regular members do pretty much what they did before accept, Hawkeye gets more backstory which fleshes him out, much needed considering he's just that guy with a bow and arrow and easily the weakest of the team. We get more Hulk action including an excellent face-off against Stark in his Hulkbuster suit, and a taster of some backstory for Black Widow. Most of this is conjured up by newcomer Scarlet Witch and her brain fiddling powers. Despite looking and coming across more like an X-Men character she is actually pretty good, well portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen and with some cool red, glowing, electric, laser bolt-esque firepower.

New to the throwdown along with Scarlet Witch is Speedy Gonzales Quicksilver who pretty much does the same thing as Quicksilver did in that other popular comicbook flick. Which was better you ask? well visually I think this Quicksilver looked better, the other silver haired bloke with silver sneakers looking plain stupid. But effects wise the X-Men movie wins the day there, they do the same kind of thing here but with not as much depth or attention, plus X-Men got there first quite simply. Next up is Vision (or J.A.R.V.I.S.) who honesty looks like a child has designed his outfit but does blend in so well with the team. He's a quiet, soft spoken, strong character kinda like Dr. Manhattan, and pretty powerful which kinda made me wonder why he would need Avenger training at the end.

Lastly is of course the bad guy Ultron who is brilliantly voiced by James Spader...but that's as far as I go on the positive note. First off why exactly does Ultron turn out to be bad? I realise he thinks he's doing the Earth a favour by erasing mankind but surely something with that level of intelligence would see the downside to that plan (he thinks humans are monsters, but is he wrong?). As Vision says at one point, he was only born yesterday, yet he can see the issue with wiping out mankind, so why can't Ultron? I also have to say, I didn't really like his design, I realise its close to the comics but it just didn't look right to me, he looked like a deformed Terminator. This also leads me to the effects side of things, why the hell did they give Ultron a moving mouth?! It looks awful, the same mistake was made with Optimus Prime, it just looked really bad, his mouth section shouldn't have moved.

Overall I wasn't actually impressed by the special effects, maybe its because I'm becoming more and more numb to the same kind of CGI stuff. But in general I just didn't feel anything for the effects, we all know there's gonna be a shit load of CGI, yeah some of it looks good like the helicarrier, but then again some of it is obvious, obvious greeenscreen, obvious rag doll effects, Ultron looked average and his drones just became weightless toys that were completely ineffective (much like the completely ineffective alien hordes in the first movie).

One thing that did look good were the destruction effects, apparently destruction and carnage effects have come on leaps and bounds because these days because they do look awesome. Funnily enough this led me to think about 'Man of Steel' and how people moaned about the destruction in that movie. Well what about this folks?? there is masses of destruction in this film and I'm pretty sure many innocent people got killed amongst all that. Look at the Hulk vs Stark fight, holy shit! how many people got wiped out there?! What about that runaway train sequence??!! good golly Miss Molly! absolutely ludicrous amounts of havoc! great ruination effects though.

The one thing that did disappoint me (as I already said) was the fact that the movie ends in virtually the same way as the first, the whole last act. There are masses and masses of robot drones swarming all over the place (not alien drones, robot drones remember)...and Hawkeye is running around with his flippin' bow and arrow. I know they even address that but it still seems daft. I also have to question Black Widow's use here, she can't karate kick robots to death and her revolver is of limited what the fuck? The rest of the team are legitimately useful. I did also have to wonder how exactly Ultron managed to build such a vast army of robots and that machine thingy in such a small space of time but...ugh! whatever.

Kudos to the light-heartedness of it all, it hits just the right spot for a comicbook adaptation. Some moments did make me smile such as Thor claiming he can't be brainwashed by Scarlet because he is a God...oh but he can. Then the little touch where Vision looks at Thor and his cloak, then quickly and sneakily creates his own because clearly he just fell in love with the whole look. Nice little witty moments which do make the movie more enjoyable, alas they tend to be overcome by more obvious silly quips and gags for the kids. One running joke to me being Falcon, what the hell use is this guy?? He wears metallic wings...but surely anybody/any top pilot presumably could wear them, how is he special? Plus the way he just swoops down right at the end outta nowhere, like...where the hell you been random bloke who wears metal wings.

All in all I did enjoy bits of the movie but found myself losing interest quickly, the in your face tidal wave of CGI really becomes too much, especially when the action really digs in. I was never really engaged in anything, I never really had much interest in the characters because I knew they were all gonna live (accept for one), and basically I found myself enjoying the little tit bits that either hint at other things or things to come. The end mid credits scene was far more exciting than anything else! (they usually are). Seeing those little snippets, that leave you dribbling for more, work so well, more so than the full length feature at times. Overall I am finding myself getting bored of seeing the same kind of thing, robots, lasers, mech suits, martial arts, big futuristic jets and carriers etc...the original wow factor of these comicbook flicks is ebbing away fast.