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Monday, May 11, 2015

Monday Movie Mania - Avengers: Age of Ultron

This is the first Marvel release where you needed to watch a couple previous releases to have some clue of what's going on if you're only watching the MCU (aka the Marvel Cinematic Universe). And if you're already a Marvel fanchild, you've got a clue who and what Ultron is.

As the middle of the Avengers trilogy, it's obvious Joss Whedon is following the George Lucas trilogy pattern, which Whedon freely admits in interviews for this film. This means a certain bittersweet ending instead of "Hot damn! We won! Let's have shawarma."

No one ends up encased in carbonite like The Empire Strikes Back, but four of the team, well, to quote the fabulous Professor River Song of a totally non-related franchise...

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SPOILERS!


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PROS
1) Linda Cardellini! No, I'm not spoiling it more than that. Go see the damn movie.

2) Vision! Okay, that's not really a secret if you know your Marvel history. Holding Scarlet Witch! Also, not a secret 'cause history. But they've always been one of my favorite super couples.

3) Switching Ultron creator from Hank Pym to Tony Stark. I admit I wasn't sure how I felt about this when I first heard it. I also admit that I was a little peeved that Ant-Man (Hank Pym) and Wasp (Janet Van Dyne Pym) weren't involved in the first movie.

But let's face it, you can't cram fifty-plus years of history into ten hours of film. I should have trusted Joss as a writer. This worked well with Tony's ego and his fears after the Chitauri invasion.

I'm slightly mollified that Hank and Janet make appearances in Ant-Man later this summer. Let's face it, Michael Douglas can do charming and batshit crazy very well in same performance which fits Pym to a T.

4) The Infinity Gems. If you've been paying attention to the eleven movies that have been released so far (including Guardians of the Galaxy), those little buggers keep popping up.

5) Team switch-up at the end. I think this is where many of the nay-sayers are peeved, but I'm not. The Avengers has always had a rotating cast in the books, starting with the Hulk leaving shortly after Captain America joined the team. I loved that War Machine, Falcon, Scarlet Witch and Vision are officially members in that last official scene. Just in time for Avengers 2.5, the unofficial name of Captain America: Civil War.

CONS
1) Quicksilver. AAARRRGGGHHH! Marvel went through all that negotiation with 20th Century Fox to get the rights back, only to whack him. Are you people out of your ever-lovin', freakin' minds!

2) I don't know if I can take too much more Josh Brolin/Thanos teasing.


Overall, this movie is the first real stab at a richer, more complex Marvel Universe, And I loved it! 9.5 stars!

8 comments:

  1. On the whole, I liked it too, but OMGJarvis!! :( :( :( Jarvis (or JARVIS) is one of my very favorite characters from the Marvel movies, and he's gone, and no, Vision isn't Jarvis. [weeps]

    I'm not sure how I feel about the whole Nat/Bruce thing. :/ Maybe if they'd, like, laid ANY groundwork for it in the earlier movie...? [sigh] I could see them making a good couple, but romances take a certain amount of screen time to work, and this one didn't have it.

    Clint's family is cool. One more thing for the fanfic writers to completely ignore :) but for canon, it works.

    I have to admit I'm not at all unhappy that we haven't seen Janet Van Dyne. Keeping in mind that I wasn't a regular Avengers reader, back when I read a fairly tall stack of comics every month, what I did see of her when I did buy an Avengers book didn't impress me. She was a classic stuck-up rich girl, self-centered and immature, snotty and bitchy, with her OMG-gag-me designer uniforms (?!?) and her nose constantly in the air. Maybe she changed later on, but that's what I saw when I saw her, and I don't miss her one tiny bit. It's like the writers took every negative stereotype of a Society Woman from the 50s and 60s and crammed them all into Janet's character. Bad writing, bad character creation, don't miss her.

    Saw the preview for Ant Man, and it looks like fun. Although what's up with some dude named Scott being Ant Man...? Was that canon? Again, I wasn't a major fan, but I was expecting Hank Pym. Having him be the crazy old scientist dude (I assume that's who Michael Douglas was playing?) instead of the actual super hero guy seems weird.

    And yes, I agree that killing Pietro was ridiculous. :/ At least this time they fridged a guy to give a woman emotional motivation to go on and be heroic, which is slightly better than doing it the other way around (as they usually do) but still. [sigh]

    I read somewhere that they wanted to have more time with Thor in the Hot Tub of Destiny, to sort of explain to the viewers WTF was going on with that, but the studio suits said they could only have that if they took the time away from the farm scenes with Clint's family, so this is the choice the director made. To which I say, what...?? Seriously, another couple of minutes max, showing Thor and Erik talking about stuff would've done it. Do they really think the fans would've grouched about another two minutes -- or even five or ten minutes -- added onto this movie? Fans of the same type of movie have sat through much longer movies, and loved them, so why the bleep would the suits think it was such an issue? [sigh] I'm hoping for a director's cut that adds this stuff back in.

    Angie

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  2. No, Vision isn't J.A.R.V.I.S. He's a Ultron/J.A.R.V.I.S/Tony amalgam ramped-up with an Infinity Gem. If he's anything, he's what Gene Rodenberry stole to create Data.

    Yeah, the Nat/Bruce (or should we call them Brat) thing was too fast and too forced. It was something that could have worked if given more time.

    Clint being the everyman touchstone was needed for the movies since they killed Phil Coulson (speaking of fridging). I like the concept of Laura, even if she didn't appear in the books. And Linda C. didn't do the whiny "Don't go! Think about the children!" either which was a major plus.

    All right, I admit I view Janet through the eyes of a child. She was one of the few super chicks around when we were kids. To me, she wasn't the wuss that Sue Storm or Jean Grey were in the late '60's/early '70's. To a farm girl, she was worldly, sophisticated, and spoke her mind. Sue me.

    In the books, Scott was a career criminal who stole Hank's Ant-Man tech to save a family member, but Hank ended up taking Scott under his wing, so to speak. *grin*

    First time I've ever heard the Infinity Well referred to as The Hot Tub of Destiny. LOL The suits' decisions were definitely getting to Joss. It was obvious he wasn't happy about things in a couple of interviews. I can't say that I blame him, but now that Disney owns Marvel, I can't say I'm surprised either. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed for a Director's Cut.

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    1. You know as someone who's just seen the movies, the Hot Tub of Destiny seemed more like the Awkward Plot Device of Destiny to me. Don't get me wrong, from an esthetic standpoint I had no problems watching Thor splash around naked, but narratively I was lost. I could have used that extra minute or two of conversation to set up the scene.

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    2. I ran on too long [cough] so I'm splitting this in two.

      Re: Jarvis, it seems to me that Tony's rich enough to have even as huge a chunk of code/data as Jarvis is backed up somewhere. :/ However many servers that'd take, Tony could afford it, and he would have a back-up. Jarvis is his eyes, his ears, his right arm, and his oldest and best friend. Losing him would be devastating, and he'd fix that. :(

      And Linda C. didn't do the whiny "Don't go! Think about the children!" either which was a major plus.

      Yes! Agreed, that was awesome. She's a great character. Yes, she's (so far as we've seen) a stay-at-home mom and housewife. She's probably a farmer, technically, depending on how much farming they actually do there, but she doesn't have a "job" in the usual sense, so far as we've seen. But she's clearly not weak, she has backbone and to spare, and she's not, as you said, hanging off Clint's arm and begging him to give up his heroing and take are of her 24/7. She's very cool and I'd love to get to know her better. Like maybe in a Hawkeye movie? I'm not holding my breath, but I'd love to see it.

      Re: Scott and Hank, thanks for the run-down. That one definitely had me boggled. :)

      Re: the suits, you'd think that if they're going to bring in (and pay) a director as prominent as Joss Whedon, and as popular with this segment of movie-goers, they'd let him do basically what he wants. Hiring an expert and then ignoring them is just stupid. [sigh]

      [Continued on Next Rock...]

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    3. [...Continued from Previous Rock]

      To a farm girl, she was worldly, sophisticated, and spoke her mind. Sue me.

      No, I can totally see that. That's not how I saw the character, but your take is perfectly valid too.

      I think my problem goes back to the generally horrible way mainstream comics have handled female characters all along. On the one hand, we get the fainting princesses, whether they have a super power on a technicality or not. Sue Storm's power was completely pathetic until they revamped it in... what, the late 80s, something like that? Her main function was to get captured and need rescuing, and yeah, Jeannie wasn't much better until she went all Phoenix on everyone. On the other side, Wonder Woman was basically a bondage model catering to the male gaze for the first however many decades of her existence, and she could give comic book Steve Rogers a run for his money on the self-righteous-jingoistic-asshole-with-pole-up-ass derby, keeping in mind that both characters came out of WWII. Etta Candy, Wonder Woman's some-time sidekick, was a beach ball with stubby little arms and legs, basically a talking fat joke with a horrible pun for a name. I disliked Wonder Woman until they rebooted the series with Perez doing the art (forget who the writer was) in the 80s. Lois Lane was a complete idiot who couldn't defend herself to any significant degree, but went traipsing into untold numbers of villain's hide-outs, because the writers thought that made her Spunky. [eyeroll] And for a while through the 70s, half the Superman issues were misogynistic slam-stories where the cover featured Superman being a dick to Lois, with an evil smirk on his face, to get the (mostly male) readers to buy the issue to see how Lois gets hers that month. I ran across a web site a few years ago called "Superman Is A Dick" or something similar, that actually showed all the covers and gave plot summaries of all the stories, of these issues where Superman was doing something horrible to Lois over and over. That was sort of her function for those years, giving the immature dudes who couldn't talk to a girl a symbolic woman they could watch Getting Hers, probably with a big grin on their faces.

      And Janet, who might've spoken her mind, I'll grant you, but I personally didn't care for what she said when she did. If her willingness to stand up for herself was a positive characteristic, I think it was only because there were so few positives to be had among the female comic characters in general.

      It makes sense that a lot of women comic readers would hang onto whatever small positives they could find. You're certainly not the only one to do so. But I represent the other chunk of the female comic readers who just eyerolled and ignored the female characters as much as possible, while enjoying and identifying with whichever of the male characters we liked. I did the same thing in SF, for that matter; there were few enough female characters to admire until I was firmly an adult, so I eyerolled at the wimpy, ignorant women and identified with the cool, competent men.

      Both reactions are rational. It just sucks that either strategy was necessary, and it goes back to the sucktastic handling of female characters throughout pretty much all of comic-dom. And it hasn't gotten all that much better even now.

      Angie

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    4. @Laura - Yes, that scene with Thor and Eric really needed a bit more explanation. Genius Kid assumed it was the well of the Norns at the base of Yggdrasil. (Which made sense if the movie viewer knew his Norse mythology.)

      @Angie - I'm sure Tony did have back-ups of J.A.R.V.I.S., but there's a slight insinuation through A1, IM2 and IM3 that he'd already achieved sentience (a totally new type of lifeform) whereas Ultron was far too human. So even if Tony restored the programming, it wouldn't be the J.A.R.V.I.S. we know and love.

      I agree most of the superheroines of our childhood sucked, especially after 45 or so years of other things to judge them against. But hey, that's what fanfic is for, fixing those problems, right? :)

      RE: Suits. I was in corporate world too long not to recognize the behavior. Their egos gets in the way. How dare an underling, even a highly paid, expert underling, tell ME what to do. Have you ever watched Kitchen Nightmares? It's a perfect example. You bring in a highly respected chef and restauranteur to fix your bistro, but then you ignore his advice.

      Or it could be the execs are worried about Joss putting girl cooties on their superheroes, which is why Black Widow isn't on any merchandise.

      Deep down, maybe that's one of the reasons I jumped on Laura's idea of our joint project. We can do supers (both men and women) the way we want.

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    5. Thank goodness you did jump in. Because you're the one with actual knowledge. For me the idea grew totally from sitting in the theater while they smashed up midtown Manhattan in the first Avengers, in full municipal attorney issue spotting mode, muttering "the paperwork; my God, the paperwork." You could do an entire legal procedural series on nothing more than the aftermath of that one event: "Marvel's Lawyers of Shield". For the theme song they could use Warren Zevon's "Lawyers, Guns, and Money."

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  3. I see what you're saying re: Kitchen Nightmares -- you're right, that's a great comparison. :/

    Jim and I do watch that, and just the other night we watched an episode where Gordon came into a too-common place where the decor was awful and the menu was ridiculously huge, resulting in bad, slow food. Gordon let the husband owner make his special meatloaf and served it as a special. Wife owner was all, I don't know, I don't like it, I can't imagine ordering meatloaf at a restaurant. Meanwhile, the customers are ordering the meatloaf and loving it. Then Gordon got rid of all the kitchy, tacky tropical tchatchkes they had all over the restaurant and redid it in white and blue, with a new name that actually reflected the local area. Wife owner was all, I hate it, it's hideous, I can't do this, I want to go home. Customers come in, love the new decor. They showed this one table of customers saying to the wife owner how much they loved the new look, and she actually sat down near them and started telling them about how she disliked it. o_O Not only is she running down her own place to her customers, but she's contradicting them, possibly make them think she's insulting their taste...? Wow, no wonder she was going under.

    And yeah, that happens over and over. I don't know how many times I've seen owners who called Gordon in to help them, tell him it didn't matter what he thought of their food. [eyeroll] I'm sure you're right and it's the same in Hollywood. Except rather than be stupid with half a million, they're being stupid with hundreds of millions. You'd think there'd be some kind of upper limit for that sort of thing. :P

    Angie

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