Sunday, May 3, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron (As spoiler free as I can make it)

     I saw this movie today. Yesterday morning my son and I watched this: because obviously he is way too young to see the actual movie.

     Before I talk about the actual plot, let me just say Joss Whedon, I love you.  I have been a fan for a long time now.  Dollhouse, Firefly, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you are the man. I understand you must move on from the MCU and I am going to miss you. I look forward to your next project. Thank you for the fun ride.

     It's actually sort of hard to review this movie because I don't want to spoil anything.  I will digress one more time to discuss the twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff.  Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. I think their superhero names are alluded to with visual clues more than once although I don't think they are ever actually said.  I like the rebooted storyline for them, but they will always be Magneto's children to me.  Scarlet Witch has always been my favorite Avenger.  I will admit her "Hex power" is the ultimate deus ex machina, but it is an awesome power.  I don't like later in comics where she becomes an actual witch like character.  Ever since the first Iron Man movie I have been waiting for her to be onscreen.  Her character was excellently portrayed.  For those of you not familiar with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, they originally started off as villains of the X-Men where they were working with Magneto. It was revealed he is their father. The two then join the Avengers, then they find out their father is the true villain, and eventually join the X-Men.  Scarlet Witch though, she was just too cool when I was a kid.  I wanted to be her.  She was not as straight forward as Wonder Woman, who I also liked. She had some baggage.  Also, her and Vision have some interesting adventures in the comics.  It was hard not to giggle when she first sees him. I wonder if Elizabeth Olsen was aware of this and tried to convey it on screen.

     Second diversion, while I was watching this movie I had a few side thoughts.  I again realized why I like comic books and superheroes so much.  We all have our strengths, but we all have our secrets, or in other cases our weaknesses.  In particular I thought about Reggie Lewis.  There are of course, several other examples.  Stephen Hawking comes to mind as well. He is awe-inspiringly smart, but suffers from ALS.  Some of us have suffered losses so great that they are like millstones around our necks to us, but we keep moving. It is extremely hard to see Captain America on screen and not think of soldiers affected with PTSD or other afflictions.  Maybe we don't have green giants impervious to pain in us, but maybe we live with guilt over ways we have brought pain to others in the past.  The comic books touch upon this, but these new movies really bring it home to me. Superheros are just like us. They are people who have been through the fire, or carry secrets, but still do good.

     Disclaimer: I am not terribly familiar with the Ultron storyline or Ultimates storyline. I am going to try to keep this as focused just on the movie as I can. I have read Avengers and Nick Fury Man from S.H.I.E.L.D comics as well as watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  If I stray too far off course, please forgive me, and if I don't come close enough please also forgive me.

     Let me not keep you guys in suspense, I loved this movie.  I have read mixed reviews of this movie and went in with a negative outlook.  I have read reviews that rated this movie from okish to skip this movie.  I loved the banter, the action, the storyline, the costumes, the everything.  What I thought was lacking was the fact that there is a few cut scenes and you can tell where the scenes where cut.  It is almost distracting. There should have been more background given as to what happened then just "Avenger disappears, then is somewhere weird doing a strange thing, HEY look now he is back!"  There are some scenes that are definitely rushed and/or oddly edited.  It is not very distracting, but it is noticeable.  All in all though, the main plot progresses in a timely pace.  There are some surprises which is always nice.  There are some cameos of characters from other movies, but then oddly some probably key side characters are missing. Again, not distracting, just noticeable.

       Tony Stark wants to use technology to help improve the world around him.  Sometimes our actions however noble they seem can be quite detrimental.  Tony Stark inadvertently creates Ultron who quickly goes from a global peacekeeping system to "KILL ALL HUMANS". This is a familiar trope, but always entertaining.  There are shades of a division, an internal war almost, between the team, but they manage to fight together against Ultron.

     Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has shown us that Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker who we saw in the mid credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier has been experimenting on people.  Oddly two people volunteered, and survived his experiments. They are Russian twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff.  As Maria Hill states "He is fast and she is weird."  They work with Ultron to defeat the superhero team.

     I am not sure what direction the MCU is headed in, but we see the Mind Stone, one of the Infinity Stones.  We saw the the Space Stone in Captain America and the first Avengers movie. The Reality Stone was featured in Thor:The Dark World. The Power Stone was seen in Guardians of the Galaxy.  We have not seen the Time Stone, or the Soul Stone yet..............or possibly have we? Are these a McGuffin or essential plot point?

     One more note, there are an insane amount of in jokes. If you are a comic reader, or watched the other movies, or the TV show, you will be rewarded for your efforts.  Some references were over the head, under the feet for me, but some I got.

     In a very fast paced movie filled with satisfying action sequences and witty fast paced banter as both sides seek to reach their goals.  The movie is incredible.  I can see why some won't like it, but I loved it and will watch it again as soon as it hits Netflix.  I deliberately left a lot of the plot out of this review because sometimes the internet is too spoilery.  I can tell you there are a few things you will be disappointed if I come right out and say.  I will not address the deaths that I heard about myself before seeing this movie because only one is sort of on screen, but I have frankly seen worse injuries in action movies. If you like comic books, witty banter, action movies, Guardians of the Galaxy or the X-men, I highly suggest this movie.  There are scenes of violence, as well as mild language so use caution with allowing young children to see this movie. 10 out of 10 stars.