Friday, May 1, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Now I want my own Hulkbuster armor...I mean, I've always wanted Hulkbuster armor but now I want it even more.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – 5 out of 5

Right now you’re probably saying, "What a big fucking surprise—Rev. Ron gave another superhero film a perfect score. He’s clearly an amateur and not worthy of his opinion and I will punch him in the face when I meet him in person." First off, there’s no need for violence because I thought we could play mini-golf when we first meet in person and, secondly, I have repetitively mentioned my geek nature and have said that comics and superheroes are some of my favorite things and haven’t EVER denied by bias towards this form of entertainment. However, I still think Marvel Studios is just laying the competition out with their cinematic universe and Age of Ultron continues to prove that working formula!

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"Wait...Ultron is mooning us!  The bastard!!!"

It’s been a little bit since Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) stopped Loki and his Chitauri army from destroying New York and taking over the world. However, their work isn’t complete since they still seek the scepter that Loki wielded. They track it to an outpost ran by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) where he used it to genetically modify humans for Hydra. There, he created the mutant wonder miracle twins: Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson); the speedster Quicksilver, and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen); the manipulative Scarlet Witch. Once the scepter is recovered, Tony Stark realizes it holds a secret that can help him and Dr. Bruce Banner unlock the secret to artificial intelligence and help him finish his peace making program called Ultron. The only problem is that once Ultron (James Spader) comes online, he deems that mankind must evolve or die and he, along with help from Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, puts forth a plan to do just that…and to eliminate The Avengers once and for all.

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Capt. can totally lift it...he's just pretending not to so he doesn't hurt Thor's feelings.

Okay, so it’s no secret that I’m obsessed with the MCU and I was not-so-patiently waiting for Age of Ultron to hit the theaters (the minute the tickets went on sale, I bought them because I’m a gigantic dork). Overall, do I think this one is better than the first one? No. Will I compare the two? Absolutely not, because the MCU is a far reaching and expanding story and universe and I see the big picture in each film. If I had to compare it to other MCU films, it’s going to rank somewhere after my Top Three—which are, in case you are wondering, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, what Joss Whedon did (and, sadly, this one is his final work with Marvel) was make a film that was much darker, a lot deeper emotionally, and developed not only the beloved characters further but the overall story and its build-up to the massive showdown that is going to take place in Infinity War 1 & 2.

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With the fact that Banner has never lost a pair of pants to ultimate annihilation when
changing into the Hulk, it's amazing that he hasn't found his fortune in the garment industry.

The lighthearted and funny nature of the first film is out the door in Age of Ultron and Whedon went with a far more serious tone. Granted, there are still some great hilarious moments and gags littered throughout the story but, overall, the emphasis is character development and a tone that that is far bleaker than what we’ve been seeing. This tone doesn’t feel shoe-horned in or like the MCU is trying to be dark and gritty but rather a natural evolution to the overall story and it worked exceptionally well.

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So...when are we getting a Black Widow solo film?

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Let's face a reality here...RDJ is cooler than all of us.
Like all Marvel films, the cast is great and have all cemented themselves perfectly in their roles. RDJ is still awesome and still the only person I want to see as Tony Stark, Chris Evans still embodies Steve Rogers, and Chris Hemsworth is still Thor. Other staples that have been established—especially Hawkeye and Black Widow—see further development that makes their already cool characters even deeper and more sympathetic. To me personally, the character development done to Hawkeye was one of my favorite things about Age of Ultron. As you remember, Barton got the raw end of the deal when Loki took his mind over in the last film and, this time around, we get to see him come into his own and show us why he is a hero and what he is fighting for. Add to the fact that he also had some incredible action sequences and there's some great one-liners from him and Hawkeye proved to be one of my favorite aspects of the film.

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I actually never thought I'd see the day when I said that Hawkeye was my
favorite part of an Avengers tale.

The new members of the cast, like Taylor-Johnson, Olsen and Spader, all proved to be a welcome addition to the MCU. All of them really captured their characters quite well. As cool as Evan Peters was as Quicksilver, Taylor-Johnson really captured the spirit of the comic character and nailed his mildly-arrogant, kinda-jerky attitude. Additionally, Olsen really made Scarlet Witch sorta-creepy and pretty badass and, finally, James Spader really was the perfect man to be Ultron. The dude’s voice is incredible and how you picture the comic villain to sound on the pages.

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Bite his shiny metal ass.

And it was flipping awesome to Paul Bettany bring The Vision to life! For so long we’ve come to associate Bettany as Jarvis and it just made sense to adapt Vision in this way for the film. Can’t wait to see him in Infinity War…and speaking of a character that is established and will come into play some more later…I really enjoyed seeing Andy Serkis come in and do a damn near flawless African accent as Ulysses Klaue—the infamous villain of Black Panther. I guess what I’m really getting at here is that Marvel has, once again, proved they know how to get the right actors for the right roles and Joss Whedon really knew how to get the perfect performances out of them—and that says a lot because the cast in this one is huge and it is a testament to Whedon’s skill that he never makes any of them feel useless or pushed into the background.

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Awww...The Vision looks so cute when he's sleeping.

So, how’s the action? As you would expect, Age of Ultron is pretty epic with its action—hell, the Hulkbuster armor scene alone when Iron Man takes on the Hulk was worth my money, in my opinion. The fight scenes are big and filled with awesome spectacles…BUT…they sometimes get hard to watch. Often during the action scenes, Whedon has the camera in really tight and it made the action unfolding blurry, muddled and hard to focus on. This is a big distraction at the beginning and when Ultron first arrives but, aside from that, most sequences are put together exceptionally well.

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Dat Hulkbuster armor!

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For dry, red eyes...
Other things that I wasn’t such a fan of in the movie were the relationship between Banner and Romanoff and Ultron’s threat level. First off, I didn’t mind that Hulk and Black Widow started to have eyes for each other but the whole time it is happening I found myself asking, "So…did Bruce forget all about Betty?" Secondly, while Ultron is a cool villain who has a never ending procession of cool lines for Spader to eloquently shoot out, I never really felt he was a world-wide threat. Sure, the story and characters will keep telling you he is a huge danger but I never get a sense of that until the epic final battle. When first introduced, he’s sold as someone who might be unstoppable but through most of the story, we see a guy who feels like a "villain of the week" one shot and not someone who will tragically alter the course of events in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ultimately, this is resolved but Ultron and his development is hindered greatly due to the development of the Avengers and the blow they receive after a defeat at the hands of Scarlet Witch.

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Wanda's powers were altered from the comics...which is fine because I will
never truly understand Scarlet Witch's powers.

Any complaints I have with Avengers: Age of Ultron are limited and did absolutely nothing to kill the enjoyment factor. The movie is huge in scope, darker in tone, full of action and characters, and is still a lot of fun. The story does a lot to set up what is going to be happening in Phase Three of the MCU including the mystery surrounding the Infinity Stones, new members to the Avengers (and what awaits in the future for the current members), and the mastermind behind all these events and how this being is somehow orchestrating this ordeal. While it’s sad this is Whedon’s final Marvel film, he still went out on a bang and made something that isn’t just rehashing the same formula that was already done but making something that is a little more mature but equally fun to watch.

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Now let the debate over who was the best Quicksilver begin!

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