Movie Review: Avengers Age of Ultron

I saw this movie on opening night. I enjoyed it. I went home.

I almost forgot about it.

Almost.

avengers_age_of_ultronBut let me back up. I love what Marvel has done with superhero films. I think what made Iron Man so great was that it didn’t take itself too seriously. It was self-aware. It was what we all wanted deep down and didn’t even realize.

i-am-iron-manCaptain America was very different, more historical and tragic, but it was about the American spirit and hero we all want. It touched something different inside us than Iron Man did.

captain-america

And then Thor was different because it took place in Asgard, a whole new world that was fascinating. And he’s a fish out of water when he’s on Earth.

thorAnd all these movies have great lines and great side characters: Pepper Potts, Peggy Carter, Sif and Loki, etc.

Where The Incredible Hulk unfortunately suffered in all this is that it was still just a regular superhero movie, like all the others we had seen before Marvel and Christopher Nolan changed the game. Apparently Edward Norton, who played the Hulk back then, was super involved in the writing of the movie, and he was a big fanboy of the Hulk. This sounds awesome in theory, but I wonder if he was trying so hard to fit the Hulk in this box that he had created that it didn’t give the character the chance to shine.

I’ll admit, I still wasn’t sold on Mark Ruffalo’s version of the character in the first Avengers movie, but I can give Age of Ultron the credit for making me care about him much more this time around. Or maybe what I should say is for making me care about Bruce Banner, the person underneath the Hulk.

bruce-bannerWhile we are talking about character exploration in Age of Ultron, I’m going to say that is the movie’s strength, and that is what has stuck with me since walking out of the theater.

There’s been a lot of talk about Black Widow in this movie, and say what you will about her role, but I think we got to see a whole new side of her and I was really glad to see it. Would it be cool if this was explored more in a movie or TV show? Yes. Will I move on with my life if it’s not? Yes. We see a much more vulnerable side of Natasha, but I don’t think she’s ever portrayed as weak. And while (mild spoiler) the interest between her and Banner did kind of surprise me and I wasn’t entirely sure I was 100% there with it (since we’ve had no build-up to this it felt like it came out of left field), I don’t think this weakened her either. It made her human. Same with their talk about infertility, which he started.

natasha-blackwidowI also appreciated that we finally got more from Hawkeye, after that poor guy got brainwashed in the first Avengers movie. His character has become a more relatable, almost every-man sort from this movie, and I thought that was a nice touch.

hawkeyeThe addition of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch really didn’t do a whole lot for me, though funnily enough, their best moments were when they were with Hawkeye. Quicksilver and Hawkeye had their running, “What, you didn’t see that coming?” joke, and Hawkeye hyped up Scarlet Witch for the battle against Ultron.

(Highlight for spoilers) Ultimately, the death of Quicksilver did very little for me. It made me sad for his sister, because it obviously put her in a lot of shock and pain, but I wasn’t sad for anyone else or for me. I had barely started kind of liking the guy when he died, though I appreciated the act that led to his death, especially when I was starting to worry that Hawkeye was going to be a goner. There was no real emotional resonance with it. 

There’s also the introduction of Vision, who is sort of interesting? We’ll have to see what happens to him in the future. We really get very little development with him at all.

Now let’s talk about the villain, Ultron. Even though he demonstrates just how much he is capable of, I never really feared that the whole entire world was actually in danger of this guy. I know it sounds ridiculous to say the stakes weren’t high enough when the whole idea was that he wanted to destroy the world but seriously, they weren’t high enough, because I was never worried that he would actually accomplish this, and not just because it’s a movie and I know it’s going to turn out OK in the end. But that could have been part of the problem. In Captain America: The Winter Solider the movie ends with SHIELD in shambles. It’s not a happy ending. While it was still probably surprising for many people watching the movie (unless they watched Agents of SHIELD, which they should have, honestly), destroying SHIELD is a much more viable option for a movie ending than destroying the world. But really, I think it was mostly that Ultron never truly frightened me enough.

But, the way Ultron was created was fascinated and I hope that comes back up because even though there is heated debating about it in the movie, it definitely feels kind of glossed over in  the grand scheme of things.

All in all, this is another solid movie from Marvel, enjoyable, witty lines, and some pretty good character development, but there were some weak spots in the movie that keeps it from being a favorite in the long run.

4stars2If you’ve see Age of Ultron, what are your thoughts?

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Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Since I saw the first Captain America movie, I knew Captain America was going to be my favorite of the Avengers. I mean, he’s such a gentleman! And he hails from the 1940’s, one of my favorite time periods in history! And Peggy Carter! Oh, I adored her too! But then, spoiler if you haven’t seen the first movie, when Steve crashes and he ends up asleep in ice for decades, of course this separates him and Peggy. SO sad! We saw him adjust to his new life in The Avengers, but we see more in The Winter Soldier.

winter-soldierFirst, my shorter, non-spoliery thoughts on the movie. I will always love the period feel of the first Captain America movie, but I do believe this was a better film. There is some great character development, the stakes are high, and there was a lot added to the overarching storyline of SHIELD. Steve has a bit of an identity crisis, but he works through and continues to act on what he knows is right, and there was never a heavy-handed *STEVE HAS FOUND HIMSELF* moment, but I think he did find his place in the end. This is a great movie for secondary characters as well with Nick Fury, Natasha/Black Widow, and Sam Wilson/The Falcon (a new character) all getting good screen time and moments in the film. If you’re a fan of the Marvel universe, I think you’ll really enjoy this latest installment.

4-5stars-editNow for the longer review, complete with spoilers…

So first off, the TV show Agents of SHIELD has clearly been setting up for what happened in this movie, and if you haven’t been watching it, I can only imagine that Fury showing Steve the message “SHIELD has been compromised” had to take you for an absolute loop. But on the show, we’ve been catching wind of something amiss. Now the exacts of it were definitely still surprising, to find out that SHIELD has been infiltrated by Hydra for decades reminded me of the movie Salt and was really surprising to me. Also, Agents of SHIELD has featured Agent Sitwell from time to time, so to find out in this movie that he’s with Hydra was a big deal, whereas it wouldn’t have been had I not been watching the show. So for the folks who gave up on the show or never gave it a chance, it’s gotten better, and now it’s clearly tying in with the movies. WATCH IT!

captain-america-hospitalI liked that Nick Fury and Black Widow had larger roles in this movie. I was curious to see how Steve and Natasha would work as a team since they’re so different, but they worked well together. I loved how Steve actually took Fury’s advice to trust no one and was skeptical of Natasha until she proved herself. And I love that they team up with Sam Wilson, a military veteran who Steve meets turns out to be quite skilled in his own way.

Captain-America-2-The-FalconI think most Marvel fans knew going into the movie that The Winter Soldier is, in fact, Steve’s old friend Bucky Barnes, who was experimented on (Steve rescues him from an operating table in the first movie, in case you have forgotten), and somehow was able to survive his nasty fall and then be turned into this villain of The Winter Soldier. I did hear one moviegoer in the theater with me audibly gasp once we finally get a good luck at Bucky’s face, and I could tell Steve certainly felt a gut punch in that moment as he realized it too. He tries to reason with his old friend, though it’s clear he does know who Steve is, but then at the very end, when he’s trying to figure it out… wow. I wonder if that’ll come back up. Marvel doesn’t seem to have arbitrary scenes in their movies though, so I’m thinking it must be important. That’ll be interesting.

winter-soldier-buckyNow, let’s talk about Peggy Carter. SHE’S IN THE MOVIE! (Hopefully you already knew that, if you’re down here reading the spoilery stuff.) We find out that she did marry a few years after Steve “died,” which is understandable, and we also find out that Steve has reconnected with her, and she is now of course elderly and living in some sort of assisted living or nursing home. At first it was really sweet as we watched the two of  them talk like old friends, and I was so happy for some kind of closure with her and Steve, but then suddenly she got confused and was like, “Steve! You’re alive!” and oh my heart broke. Dementia. Uh it was so sad! Hasn’t poor Steve suffered enough?! And then we never got to see the two of them together again after that scene. It doesn’t detract too much from the movie, really, I just wish we could have ended on a better note with the two of them. But kudos to whoever did the makeup job on Haley Atwell because WOW, it looked so real.

Also speaking of Peggy, it’s clear Steve still cares for her, but he knows he needs to be open to meeting 21st century girls. But when Natasha asks Steve if she’s his first kiss since 1945 and he says no, I’m like, seriously?! He’s spent the whole movie acting like he has not been socializing with ladies and then suddenly he’s been kissing them? I don’t buy it. I’m just pretending that line doesn’t exist, or that he was being so sarcastic I couldn’t tell, because it didn’t feel in character. Maybe I care too much about my belief that Steve was a true, chivalrous romantic, but yeah, that line about the kissing is definitely not in my personal head canon.

captain-america-black-widowNeedless to say, I really enjoyed a lot about this movie and thought it was very solid. And I’m really curious to see the next Agents of SHIELD episode (which I am about 99% positive is going to be aftermath of this movie) on Tuesday, as well as see what’s in store for this ever-changing universe.

What are your thoughts on Captain America: The Winter Soldier? 

 

Mini-Review: Thor: The Dark World

Thor: The Dark World is the latest addition in the Marvel movie franchise as well as the continuation of Thor’s story… but I’m sure you knew that! I wanted to keep this review short and sweet by covering the movie’s good points and “meh” points…

Good: The Snarky Dialogue… Especially with Loki

thor-loki-glassesAs all Marvel movies should be, Thor: The Dark World has many quotable moments. I don’t know why Thor goes from speaking Shakespearean-style English to telling Loki to shut up, but regardless, I still enjoyed a lot of the dialogue, especially where Loki was involved. They had some great brother banter moments.

Good: Darcy!!!

darcy-thorI absolutely adored Darcy in the first Thor film and was thrilled she was coming back. She did not disappoint!

Meh: Thor + Jane = Still Not Buying It

jane-thorI like Natalie Portman and I like Jane, but I didn’t find Jane and Thor together believable in either the first film or this film. (Team Sif all the way!)

Good: Thor’s Mom is Awesome!

thor-momI thought Thor’s mom was awesome, but I don’t want to spoil anything, so you’ll just have to watch to see why.

Meh: Poor Dr. Selvig

thor-erikIt was sad to see that state Dr. Erik Selvig ended up in after The Avengers. 😦

Good: Zachary Levi!

thor-zacharyleviI think Zachary Levi did a pretty seamless job filling in for the role of an actor who was in the previous installment of Thor. And I’m always happy to see Zachary Levi!

Meh: Just OK Villain

thor-villainThe villain, The Dark Elf or whatever he was called, didn’t impress me in the slightest and I never really felt a sense of danger with him. I never thought about this until a few days after I had seen the movie though, which tells you how little I think about villains (unless they’re awesome), but I would compare him to Nero in the 2009 Star Trek movie… just not that impressive. But without getting too spoilery, let’s just say there’s plenty of questioning Loki’s motives throughout the film, and that is much more interesting… and then there’s the mid-credit scene that opens a new door…

Good: Overall Just Fun!

thor-2It’s Thor, it’s the Avengers, and it’s just fun.

4stars2Others’ thoughts:

Nashville Book Worm liked it OK but didn’t love it

House of Geekery loved it!

Have you seen Thor: The Dark World? What are your thoughts?