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Peter T Chattaway

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

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This film excels at one thing: that brand of quasi-wit we could call "Whedonism," where characters banter about endlessly with zingers flying. But this isn't really character development. These characters are thin figures who move about as the script needs them to, without any sense of consequence or meaning attached to their choices. Every argument and reunion is just a buffer zone for the next big action scene. Despite the entire history of the MCU to date, not one of these relationships feels genuinely lived-in, or even offers a great deal of chemistry (you couldn't possibly do a "death of Spock" moment with any of these characters in a way that would feel completely earned).

If the action scenes were inventive, maybe that would be enough, but all Age of Ultron delivers on that front is overwhelming monotony. If nondescript snowscapes and cities are what you're after, they're in abundance as our heroes kick their way through faceless hordes for a few hours (or, in the case of the Hulk/Iron Man brawl, just beat the stuffing out of each other). Occasionally Whedon throws in some slow-mo so we can relish the fisticuffs a bit more, but even in slow motion, it's chaotic. No matter where you look, you won't find any suspense, beauty, wonder, awe, or drama. It's just more punches and explosions.

 

There's actually some some interesting material here that gets wasted (Richard Brody makes an interesting case that Age of Ultron is about the NSA, and that's only one reading of a film that offers us a few sets of Frankensteins and Frankenstein's monsters), but this film never brings it together in a way that's satisfying.

Someone save us from the Infinity Wars.

Edited by Ryan H.

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Better to go with Age of Adaline this weekend, amiright?

Edited by Christian

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It was nice to see a superhero movie focus so heavily on, you know, saving regular people, and I could appreciate the skill of balancing so many plot points and arcs, but the whole movie does have a going-through-the-motions feel to it.

 

I didn't really think Jeremy Renner could be the charismatic/emotional core of any movie, let alone a movie with this much star power. Not sure that's a strength, though; it's more that he stands out in comparison to what everyone else had to work with.

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Better to go with Age of Adaline this weekend, amiright?

 

Saw the Age of Adaline the other day.  It's a good enough movie.  Kind of lacking in the general carnage and Super Hero related destuction though.

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There's actually some some interesting material here that gets wasted (Richard Brody makes an interesting case that Age of Ultron is about the NSA, and that's only one reading of a film that offers us a few sets of Frankensteins and Frankenstein's monsters), but this film never brings it together in a way that's satisfying.

 

I like Brody's insistence that “'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and, for that matter, most superhero movies are prodigious feats of intelligence, made with extraordinary attention to detail." As someone who does pop culture academically, more or less, that's a sentiment I can totally get behind. But I'm a little surprised that it's this movie and not, say, Captain America: The Winter Soldier that gets Brody going on this theme. As I mentioned on Facebook, this NSA strand has been at work for a long time in superhero movies--at least since The Dark Knight--and it's not only unsurprising, it's expected for anyone who believes that pop/pulp entertainment reflects and susses through ambiguities or tensions in the culture. 

 

[bTW, Ryan, "that brand of quasi-wit we could call 'Whedonism'" may be the most devastating and accurate characterization of Whedon's shtick I've ever read. I was tired of him before he took over the MCU, and seeing him crowned High King of Geek Entertainment has been a little puzzling to me]

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Better to go with Age of Adaline this weekend, amiright?

 

Saw the Age of Adaline the other day.  It's a good enough movie.  Kind of lacking in the general carnage and Super Hero related destuction though.

 

Yes, this is a possible drawback.

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These movies are getting weird.

 

I still can't get over the scene where Ultron literally stands there and says "On this rock I will build my church." Then there's the talk about grace at the end, and the picture of Pope Francis (at least I think I saw it, and my brother saw it too) that flashes by when the newly created Ultron is discussing peace. Also Ultron's claim not to be anyone's puppet or "hollow man," which I suppose is a T.S. Eliot reference, although there might be certain similarities between Ultron and the title character of Paul Verhoeven's Hollow Man, which I haven't seen, and I doubt that future MCU movies will reflect the ending of Eliot's poem ("This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper").

 

I liked the farmhouse retreat, a return to nature that feels refreshing in the middle of an endless drive for the movies to get bigger and bigger, where the film can take time to notice Hawkeye's son curled up on the couch to read (what looked like) Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Hawkeye, however, seems restless there, driving his wife crazy with one renovation project after another.

 

I don't know. To me the interesting thing about these movies is less the movies themselves than the newness of what the franchise as a whole is doing; movies have never played this kind of long game before. I can't analyze the strategy, since I'm not familiar with the source material, but I know that I'm looking forward to lining up all 20 or whatever of the MCU movies and watching them in order before seeing Infinity War Part 2.

Edited by Rushmore

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I'm looking forward to lining up all 20 or whatever of the MCU movies and watching them in order before seeing Infinity War Part 2.

That sounds like my idea of hell.

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Oh my word, SP. Thank you for that -- one of the more fun articles I have read in a while.

Edited by Persona

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That's hilarious and scary. I envisioned watching the films over the course of a month, perhaps with other films in between to help preserve my sanity.

 

Well, if Marvel fans can be that dedicated, I guess I have no excuse for not watching Norte the End of History in one sitting.

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I reviewed AGE OF ULTRON finally.

 

As each Marvel film comes out it becomes easier and easier to forget that there was a time not too long ago when these films looked like a major risk. The Marvel braintrust had to hope that audiences would go along with the shared universe idea which culminated in 2012’s The Avengersand brought Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) together in one film. But The Avengers proved to be a phenomenal success, such that each subsequent installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been greeted as a major movie event. So, AvengersAge of Ultron, has bigger shoes to fill. It’s not just the culmination of a set of films, but the blockbuster of blockbusters—in purpose if not in design. Age of Ultron is an enjoyable example of the gargantuan Hollywood blockbuster, but it succumbs to the pressure of being the king of the series. It’s not only overstuffed, but suffers from the weighty cultural expectations heaped upon it.

 

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I'm surprised no one has posted this article on Whedon's retreat from the Marvel CU. The people who don't like his style of doing things (you savages) will find lots of ammunition here, I'm sure, but the one thing I got from it was how this movie surpassed any enjoyment he might've gotten from working on the two Avengers movies. 

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I haven't had time to read the thread or anyone's reviews in full.  So forgive me if I missed something.  I agree with the general idea that this film is overstuffed with characters, but I'd like to add the idea that considering the fact that it was so overstuffed, what it was able to do with those characters was quite an achievement.  It was able to flesh out at least somewhat of a story for most of the major characters (and there were a lot of them) and make us care about them and their relationships to some degree, even if their individual stories were largely underdeveloped.  It was also able to do this in a film that didn't become all that lost or confusing.   That being said.  I could have handled seeing more of the new dude that they had created, and I think it would have benefited the direction the story was taking for him to have had more of a substantial role in defeating Ultron.  After all, that was one of the critical reasons why they ended up going through with making him.

 

But anyhow.  I think I liked this better than the last Avengers movie, and I found a few scenes to be a great deal of fun.

Edited by Attica

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but the one thing I got from it was how this movie surpassed any enjoyment he might've gotten from working on the two Avengers movies. 

Something about this phrasing doesn't make sense to me.  Which movie are you referring to with "this movie?"

 

That article is great, though.

 

 

And to Attica:  Since I can't figure out how to black out text, I'll just say

 

 SPOILERS! 

and that character did do one very important thing, but you're right that it wasn't very exciting or meaningful in context, because the abilities and consequences were not very well set up.

Edited by StephenM

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Something about this phrasing doesn't make sense to me.  Which movie are you referring to with "this movie?"

 

 

Sorry for any confusion I caused. I meant Age of Ultron, since it's the movie in question for both the linked article and this thread. 

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I was bored by this in stretches. The two expositional bits with the Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch backstory and the Black Widow backstory were very clunky. A lot of the plot exposition also grew tiresome.

 

But, and this is a big but, I was bored of this film in precisely the same way I always get bored with the Avenger and related character comics. The storylines related to Ultron, Kang, and the other major villain arcs are complicated and require many panels of sheer explanation to wade through. These larger story arcs in the Marvel universe also require a lot of lengthy conversation that ties in all the character arcs from other storylines. So I often have gotten bored in the comic versions, though I usually just power through because the payoff is almost always worthwhile - such as with the Infinity Gauntlet/Thanos stuff or the Kree war. The Marvel S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series really nails this aspect of the comics - which paces the character development and overall story arc well, as they require a lot of cross-referencing to other things happening out there in the Marvel universe.

 

I would like to expand on this sometime if time permits, but I think Whedon did some things really well here:

 

1. The film is dull and plodding, but it is a minor act in the overall storyline. It sets us up for Civil War and the Kang(!) showdown, and that is all it needs to do. Narrative mission accomplished.

2. Formally, the ensemble fighting scenes are really intriguing. I would like to know more about how these were accomplished, but there are many moments here that feel ripped straight from the better full page Marvel spreads. The opening fighting scene really stands out in this respect, as the "camera" moves to capture action performed by several different characters on different planes of action in "seamless" tracking shots. The final battle scene as well pivots on a sequence with the camera spinning around in the church to capture all this activity with a very deep focus. Just interesting to see classic cinematic tropes artificially deployed here to capture Marvel comics unique approach to storytelling.

3. Well... can't think of much more actually. This version of Vision is far cooler than his earlier iterations. Some beautiful craftsmanship in the special effects related to his presentation.

 

The bad:

 

1. No Falcon

Edited by M. Leary

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