Monday, 27 April 2015

Review: Avengers - Age Of Ultron (second-pass)

World of Blackout Film Review

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (3D) Poster

Avengers: Age Of Ultron (3D) (second-pass / VAGUE-SPOILERS)
Cert: 12A / 141 mins / Dir. Joss Whedon / Trailer
WoB Rating: 7/7

First review here.

So a second-pass of one of 2015's biggest movies certainly helped me see a little more clearly through the fog of war. Still not always as clearly as I'd have liked, though, and it still seems apparent that the film is trying to fit far too much story into the gaps between the action. This is the normal way of things for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the plot-gaps are smaller than usual here.

That's not to say I'm not completely in love with the film, but I'd happily have had more and longer scenes with Black Widow and Hulk, as both Johannson and Ruffalo are giving us something really great; just not enough of it. Also suffering from development-vs-time-constraint are Scarlet Witch and The Vision, although I suspect (alright, hope) that will be addressed in some future installment of the timeline.

Still on the subject of exposition, Whedon's screenplay skips fairly deftly around the origins of Witch and Quicksilver; namely the conflict of interests between Marvel Studios continuity-strand and that of Fox's X-Men series. Quicksilver appeared in last year's X-Men: Days Of Future Past, of course, with a rather scene-stealing showcase of his powers. Fox have the rights to use the character as he's the son of Magneto and therefore falls under the umbrella of their licensing agreement with Marvel. Usually this would preclude a super-hero's appearance in another cinematic timeline, but Quicksilver is also a paid-up member of The Avengers*1, hence him appearing in Age Of Ultron, this time with his twin sister. There's no mention of mutants, but the script is deliberately non-committal on whether the Maximoff-twins had any degree of their powers prior to Baron Von Strucker's research programme (that's not a spoiler, it's the post-credits scene of Winter Soldier).

More plot-driven than Avengers Assemble, certainly in terms of the larger narrative, Age Of Ultron is a film which asks far more questions than it answers. The more of the MCU timeline you know before sitting down, the easier you'll find things to follow; although that will also be the same source of your questions. Ridiculously loud and over-the-top, Marvel go to great lengths to provide an even bigger climactic setpiece than the three heli-carriers in The Winter Soldier, and it's fair to say that in terms of spectacle, they've outdone themselves. Again.

Go and see Age Of Ultron then come back and we'll talk spoilers. Serious spoilers.

And am I the only one who's slightly disconcerted that Ultron's mouth moves when he speaks?
This is like Optimus Prime all over again…

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
For fans of the genre and/or franchise, yes.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Buy it and watch it lots of times.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Ms Johannson certainly gets to do more actual acting than she has previously, which is always a good thing.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
It certainly does.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
not a lot less, but a bit. Probably.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is. It's worked into Captain America's first casualty in the Sovokian woods.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Visual effects by (among others) ILM and audio mastering performed at Skywalker Sound. I think that'll be close enough for this pass, seeing as I've already mentioned that two of the cast are Star Wars cast-members.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 The short version, for those of you less familiar with Marvel's print-setup, is that in the various strands of comic continuity, all of their heroes and villains inhabit the same version of New York; Avengers, mutants, scientists and freelance photographers alike. They're constantly round each others houses borrowing sugar and the like. In the late 90s / early 00s, when the film rights were divided up between various studios, Fox got the X-Men and directly related characters as well as The Fantastic Four. Sony got everything that falls under the Spider-Man property, and Paramount ended up with most of everything else, enabling the Avengers timeline, which was then bought back by Marvel Studios after Iron Man 3. Generally speaking this hasn't caused too many problems (other than the fact that the Chitauri from Avengers Assemble should really have been The Skrulls, except those fall under the Fantastic Four property), and has only led to mild consternation from comic-fans that it feels like something's 'missing' from each set of movies. Marvel and Sony recently announced the merging of Spider-Man with the MCU though, which is great news (despite another apparent reboot for Spidey), but this business with Quicksilver is downright messy. The 'Marvel Cinematic Universe' should really be the leading-authority on Marvel's characters, yet it feels like they're somehow lying about two of their own...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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