Sunday, May 3, 2015


I do not own the above image. Copyright Marvel Studios. All Rights Reserved.

               There is something special about the opening of the summer movie season.  For the past dozen years or so, one movie gets the honor of opening on the first Friday of May to kickstart the summer.  Some are successes (SPIDER-MAN, THE AVENGERS) others are downright disasters (remember VAN HELSING and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE?).  Then there’s the seemingly “too big to fail” starter for 2015, MARVEL’S AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.  This time, the stakes are higher, the collaboration of our heroes is tighter & the enemy is more fierce.  But are the proceedings better?
            After a battle & raid on an Eastern European Hydra compound to retrieve Loki’s staff, the supercrew reassembles at Avengers Headquarters in New York.  Using the powers inside the staff, Tony Stark (do I really need to tell you who plays him...Fine, Downey, Jr.) enhances his prototype global defense system.  But the experiment goes horribly wrong and it becomes a global destruction system.  Can the destruction of our planet be stopped?
            Before I continue with the most negative positive review ever conceived, I need to state that I did in fact enjoy watching the movie.  I sat there, shifting back & forth in my seat like I usually do, actually enjoying what I was watching.  I swear.  But…
            AGE OF ULTRON, to be honest, only has two problems but they are large enough to almost destroy any memory of the enjoyment.  The first is Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver.  This Quicksilver looks & sounds like a 90’s boy band reject trying to infiltrate the KGB.  Taylor-Johnson, who almost ruined last year’s GODZILLA  is little more than a pretty-boy actor who just doesn’t have “it”, whatever “it” is.  His facial expressions, his accent, his body language, his…everything is just so awkward & wrong.
            But where AGE OF ULTRON really falters is in its overall tone.  Sure there are the usual Whedonisms throughout.  Plenty, if you ask me.  But there is something weird this time around.  The 2012 version has this lightness to it.  There was a line of dark clouds in that movie.  But here, this time around those dark clouds are in a cluster that seems trapped between two high pressure systems (possibly named Kevin Feige & Joss Whedon).  The original’s lightness & sense of joy is abundant in the opening scenes.  The opening long shot is gorgeous in reintroducing us to our heroes.  But the second Ultron is introduced about 25 minutes in, those clouds arrive and never move.  There are dozens of one liners disbursed over the last two hours and some are quite amusing but everything feels just a bit off. 
            The film is caught between two conflicting ideas, two men who believe they are right, one man with most of the money & one with most of the talent.  And we know who has all the pull and it is unfortunate that Feige is the one who will always win.  I worry for the series post-Whedon.  I worry just how serious this Cinematic Universe can possibly get.
            I worry for the future of movies.  What if this superhero movie bubble bursts?  A short story from my showing: There is a sequence where we meet the extended family of one of the Avengers.  This sequence lasts about 10-12 minutes.  During this time about 15 people get up at the same time and leave for a few minutes.  I know nothing was exploding at the time but is the American moviegoing public so bored by dialogue that they don’t care to listen to it?
            In the end, THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON falls into the “Enjoyed While I Watched” category.  Since leaving the theatre around 9:10 Friday night, the movie has soured like month old milk.  Most of this review reads like a downer.  But that’s how I feel right now about the past, present & future of this series, superhero movies & movies overall.  Marvel will no doubt continue to look for filmmakers who will conform to their vision, their hope$, their de$ire$.


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