Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Avengers: Age of Ultron
I haven't seen a blockbuster action film in a while so I gear up with the boys for the second Avengers instalment. The solo movies in between this and the previous Avengers movie have been okay, but the only one to really excite me was Captain America: Winter Soldier. It was well-paced with a good flow and the story was interesting, while still providing action and thrills and gut busting and some sarcastic quips thrown in.
Ultron, the villain of this Avengers, is a hoot. Voiced and motion captured by James Spader, one of my favourite actors, he's a killer robot with a killer sense of humour. He's all like "Oh, you're the Avengers. that's nice. I'm going to destroy all of humanity." He even bends his head slighty like Spader when he stands and talks. Tony Stark (Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr.) invents Ultron to be a peacekeeping program with the intention of taking the burden of the world off the Avengers. Of course things go wrong and Ultron becomes the threat to the world that causes the team to get back together and battle once more.
Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark 'The Hulk' Ruffalo) make a cool duo working out all the science in their scenes together. They have an interesting dynamic, as Stark is obsessive and wants to push all the boundaries, and Banner is more reluctant and careful but ultimately compliant with his partner's demands. Banner's character is used well, as there really is no need for a solo Hulk flick so they give him plenty to do here. He also has a romantic subplot with Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, included for the general audience of non-comic book fans, as they each grapple internally and struggle to open their hearts to each other. How lovely!
Elsewhere the team is much the same. As Stark and Banner are teamed together, Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are allied against them. Cap and Stark have the ego and personality clash again, setting up the next movie 'Captain America: Civil War', and Thor is pissed off at Stark's foolishness. Cap is fairly stoic is this, pretty much just disagreeing with Stark for the most part, and nothing is really developed in the character. Thor is much the same.
The true star of the show is Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner. I have now realised it is this lone bowman, I mean archer, who is my favourite Avenger. All the other guys are flashy or awesome heroes who have obvious characteristics and enhancements that make them cool. Iron Man is a "Genius Billionaire Playboy Philanthropist", Captain America has his badass shield and he's the pin-up boy for USA, Thor is a god, and The Hulk is a gigantic green monster. And even though Black Widow is an ordinary human like Hawkeye, she's played by Scarlett Johansson, so she could also be an easy choice for someone's favourite Avenger. But not Hawkeye. He's not special. They even give him his own subplot where he has a family that he is working as an Avenger to support. He's also given a great monologue in the climax of the movie where he proclaims "I'm in the middle of a war with flying robots and the world is falling apart. None of this makes sense."
I should really pitch an idea to the film studio for a sitcom based around Hawkeye. It'd be great. He has a conflict with local council over renovations to his house or something. So he shows up to their office with a bow and arrow and holds a siege. It also shows his daily life, doing laundry and going to his local coffee shop. I really think I'm onto something. One episode could be like an extension of the party scene in Age of Ultron, which I could tell the writers and actors had a lot of fun with.
Anyway, Age of Ultron has everything necessary for a superhero blockbuster. Lots of action and explosions, with just enough clarity to avoid a Transformers screen seizure, and smart humour to move things along. I have been getting weary of the length of these kinds of flicks, where I get tired in the cinema and it just goes on and on. I would like to see a tighter, 90 minute blockbuster at the movies these days, but I realise that I shouldn't hold on to any hope with that. These are big-budget blockbusters, and there's an obligation to make them on this scale now. Still, Age of Ultron kept me engaged all the way through, and it certainly surpassed my expectations. If I look back, the more superhero movies I've seen the less times I've watch each of the films again. It will be interesting to see how Age of Ultron holds up on a second viewing.