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Review: Avengers Age Of Ultron

Avengers_Age_of_UltronReview season is just about upon us for TV shows, so I figured I’d kick it off with a review of Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.  If you haven’t seen it, then scroll down to the last paragraph for my rating… unless you want to be spoiled.  Yes, there will be spoilers mentioned.  You’ve been warned. 🙂

Let’s start with Robert Downey Jr as (Ironman) Tony Stark and Chris Evans as (Captain America) Steve Rogers.  If you can’t see Civil War coming out of this, then you missed a lot.  Tony and Steve don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, but Stark’s actions in this movie put them on separate paths toward a common goal.  RDJ was once again perfect as Stark.  In the comics it was Antman who had created Ultron, but they changed it for the movie.  Having Stark create Ultron made a lot of sense here.  It was done well overall and it brought out the character flaws this team had.  Tony had already created the  Iron Legion robo police force and his reasons for wanting to go further were justified.  Steve is still trying to adjust to modern times, so being left in the dark about such a bold move was not something he felt was wise.  The dynamic here was less about Ultron and the threat than it was about setting up Cap 3.

Chris Hemsworth shined as Thor.  More focus was put on the true power that he wields, specifically Mjolnir.  Thor’s confidence is almost a cockiness in his abilities and if Captain America almost lifting the hammer wasn’t bothersome enough to THor’s ego, then certainly Vision’s actions were.  Heimdall‘s brief cameo fit well and I like how they set up what looks to be Thor 3: Ragnarok.  Thor’s role here was to inform about the power of the infinity stones and the role they play in the universe.

Hulk (Bruce Banner) took more of a back seat for me in this movie.  Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal was spot on, and though the Hulk shined we got to see more of the struggle Banner has coping with his alter ego.  He accepts it less and fears it more than in the last movie.  So much so that he is solely responsible for helping Ironman develop the Hulkbuster (veronica) armor.  The presence of both Banner and Hulk were equally important this time, but I feel as though he was bullied a bit by Tony.  I was a little caught off guard by the sexual tension between him and Natasha, but I’m glad that they strayed from that.  Who knows where he ended up in the end.  Fury mentioned the craft MIGHT have crashed into the ocean, but you can’t help but wonder if it was all a setup for another Hulk movie (Planet Hulk).  I hope not as I don’t particularly like that story.

Scarlett Johansson has proven my initial thoughts on her in the role to be completely false.  I love her as Black Widow (Natasha Romanov), though I do have one issue.  Whedon could have corrected the lack of RUssian accent in the flashback to her ballet days, but he chose to ignore it.  I was pleased that we got a little more of her background though and everything that was hinted at in her prior appearances.  Her crush on Banner was strange to me, but then again I was blown away that her relationship with Clint was less intimate than I’d rightfully assumed.

Jeremy Renner really took the lead in this movie. Hawkeye (Clint Barton) was finally called his codename and it was fun how it was done and the reasoning.  I was blown away by the reveal of his family but it was a welcome change.  There needed to be someone with some kind of personal life and he being the choice made sense.  While Cap was the leader and Tony the funding of the team, Hawkeye was the glue that held them together.

War Machine (James Rhodes) and Falcon (Sam Wilson), played by Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie cameoed in important minor roles that by the ending you realize will become much more in the next installment.

Quicksilver (Pietro Maximoff) and Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) were perfect.  Aaron Taylor Johnson was a much better Quicksilver than the already likeable one that was in X-Men DOFP.  My only regrets are that he had to die because of the dual studios usage of the character.  In a battle like this however there are bound to be casualties, so I’m fine with the choice.  Elizabeth Olsen was both sexy and creepy in her role, and I’m happy with the portrayal of her powers.  The slight modification worked well and the hint at the twins’ past can be touched upon more if Marvel ever ended up with rights to X-men.  The twins beginning as antagonists and becoming heroes was everything I wanted to see with them.

Vision is both the evolution of JARVIS and the creation of Ultron.  His origin was similar to the comics and his presence and sleek look were a very welcome addition.  He was to this movie as Hulk was to the last, and earned his place quickly.  Although his solar gem atop his head was changed to the mind gem, the origin and use of that which was once in Loki’s scepter placed well.  It was a primary reason why he became so powerful and heroic.  As part machine with organic matter in him, he is able to wield it without being corrupted by temptation or control.  They even gave a nod to the romance that will be eventual between him and Scarlet Witch.

Samuel L Jackson is always great to see as Nick Fury, and with him and Maria Hill back on the scene with SHIELD it will be interesting to see where this takes the agents of shield series.

Finally, on to the villains…

Baron Von Strucker while having a minor role was a good starting point for the film.  Why not have a minor subplot with HYDRA before kicking into another threat?  I’ve welcomed this with the Spiderman movies and any characters that have a huge rogues gallery.

Ulyses S. Klau played by Andy Serkis had a story element that will directly lead in to Black Panther.  They mentioned Wakanda, he had his arm torn off, and he’d stolen vibranium.  It is an excellent lead in that didn’t feel forced.

Ultron was easily the highlight of this film.  James Spader gave off the vibe that this robot was like a child with a god complex.  Designed to eliminate threats, the cliched “robot thinks it knows better by eliminating the human race” felt fresh here because of Ultron’s personality.  There were hints of logic, and Tony’s personality that made him unique in many ways.  So much so that it almost felt like Tony Stark was the villain at times.

Thanos had only a brief scene.  While it was not anywhere near one of the better credits scenes, it was something that laid ground for the next installment.

What else is there to say?  From the plot to the set ups of the next few movies and where the characters go personally, there is a lot packed in to 2 hours and 20 minutes.  Stan Lee‘s cameo was my favorite of them all, and that says something right there.  People have complained that Age of Ultron is not as good as the first Avengers movie, but it’s an unfair assessment.  These movies are entirely different from one another.  I feel that this tied up a lot of loose ends and opened the movie universe up to so much more potential.  In my opinion it exceeded Avengers 1 in many ways while not surpassing it in others.  It isn’t a perfect comic book movie, but it is damn close.  I give it 9.5 sCrypt Coffins out of 10.

If you have anything to add, please comment below.

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Review and discussion: Guardians Of The Galaxy

GOTG-posterIf you don’t want to be spoiled as to certain plot points, then I recommend skipping to the last paragraph to get my overall spoilerfree review.  Otherwise, from here on out the discussion will be about major points in the movie, and I invite those who have seen it to comment below and add to the discussion.

I was always aware of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the comics, but never followed the characters or plots until the relaunch last year, where I picked up trade paperback to catch up and familiarize myself with them.  One of the taglines for this movie has been “The Star Wars for the current generation”.  I have to agree, but at the same time this movie is something that is very new and hasn’t been done before as a whole.  Sure, there are elements rehashed here and there, but if you want something fresh and unique, then stop reading now and go see it if you haven’t.  All happiness aside, I do have a few complaints about elements in the movie, so I’ll do a breakdown of the good and not so good (notice I didn’t say bad), and speculate on a few things to come.

The Plot was intelligently written, with plenty of action, humor and suspense.  The effects were visually stunning (though I can’t imagine seeing this in 3D.)  In regular format this was breathtaking but the fights (especially with Drax involved) were shaky camera at times, and the spinning spacecrafts in the aerial battles were dizzying at times.  I’m not saying this was bad, because it made you feel as if you were a part of it, but the problem with this is that for some people it is a turn off.  Myself included if I’m trying to follow whats going on screen.  In 2D it is great, but I think I’d puke in 3D.

The soundtrack was just plain awesome.  I loved all the songs in there (I’m partially biased because I grew up listening to a lot of those), and it worked, also setting up a new similar soundtrack for the next movie.  The Easter Eggs and tying into the existing Marvel Comics movie universe were fanboy/girlgasmic.  I’ll get into that in my character breakdown, which begins now:

Peter Quill/Starlord: Chris Pratt plays the sarcastic, egotistical Quill very well.  He brings the perfect amalgamation of Captain James T Kirk, Indiana Jones & in his own words “Marty McFly” together.  The movie shows his evolution from a shy kid to what will become a decent leader.  I personally could have done without the over the top cheesy dance sequence in the beginning.  After Spiderman 3 I could do nothing but put my head in my hands when I saw this happening at the beginning.  Somehow, I didn’t mind it as much during the final faceoff with Ronan.

Gamora: Even with prosthetic facial enhancements and green skin, Zoe Saldana is still appealing to the eye.  Aside from her beauty though, she kicked some major ass, just as you would expect from the adopted daughter of Thanos.  I even enjoyed the little bit of tension between her and Starlord.  I just hope they don’t give into it too much in the future.  It’s nice to have that unresolved extra angle in there.

Drax The Destroyer: I’ll admit that when I heard Dave Bautista was going to be Drax, I shivered.  I didn’t want to see a wrestler whom I felt had little to no acting ability taking on a character like Drax (who has little to no personality).  Yeah, you see my problem there?  I was wrong.  Bautista nailed the part.  I actually wanted him to have more screen time.  My only problem with Drax in this movie was some of his lines in the beginning.  They seemed a bit too forced but this was a writing issue.  I know Drax speaks strangely, but the first few lines he delivered were sub par in dialogue.

Groot: While I held out hope that Vin Diesel would play a big baddie for Marvel at some point, his delivery of “I Am GROOT” was awesome each time it happened.  It wasn’t overdone, and Groot’s special effects looked amazing.  I am left wondering though if some of his abilities in the movie were indeed in the comics as well.  I’m not too familiar with the character other than I knew he could be planted to grow again once destroyed.  Speaking of which, the end of the movie, while unnecessary made me smile.  I really enjoyed watching baby Groot swinging to the music.

Rocket Raccoon: I wish we’d have had a little more background on Rocket himself, but his presence was welcome for every second.  I forgot Bradley Cooper was doing his voice because he seemed like his own little furry personality.  A little bit selfish, a little bit of a dick, and just all around rabid feistiness made his part of the team the highlight.

Ronan The Accuser: I remember this villain from many Fantastic Four comics, and knew how menacing and deadly he could be.  My problem in this movie wasn’t the portrayal of him.  I think Lee Pace did an excellent job.  The problem for me is that they are building up Thanos to be a massive badass (which he is), and the guardians plus an entire planet of Nova corps could barely beat Ronan.  So then how the hell will the universe be able to battle Thanos at this point?  I can’t imagine a movie big enough to do that.  With my faith in Marvel I will have to wait and see.  His presence proves that the body in Agents of SHIELD tv show was a Kree alien, so now with that cleared up we will have to wait.  I loved his look in GOG and the wise use of his hammer and abilities.  Even Drax couldn’t stand up to him and that was before Ronan used the infinity stone (gem).

Yondu and Nebula: Both of these characters played by Michael Rooker and Karen Gillan respecitvely added to the whole plot, and I’m glad that they will both be most likely playing a role in the sequel.  I really loved the space pirate feel that Yondu gave off, and Nebula’s battle with Gamora was something I could watch over and over just for the tactics alone.

The Nova Corps:  While I cannot stand John C Reilly, he surprisingly didn’t irritate the hell out of me in this movie.  I thought his presence would have dumbed it down, especially with his delivery in the trailers, but again I was proven wrong.  He was used well, and while I didn’t see him as a serious Nova Corps member, he was a welcome addition.  There was plenty of setup here with Glenn Close’s Nova Prime and the destruction of most of the city that a path has been paved to have the main Nova (Richard Rider) become a defender of earth in the sequel.  Especially with Yondu and Quill’s dad probably wanting to destroy the planet in the sequel.

The Collector: Benicio Del Toro’s role was smaller than I anticipated, but it was more than a glorified cameo.  In fact, his entire base of operations was full of cameos including: Slither, Howard The Duck, and Cosmo the Spacedog.  Oh yes and one of multiple references to Celestials.  I can’t wait til the dvd to pause and see what else is in there.  I understand that Adam Warlock’s coccoon (first seen in Thor 2 ending) was now open, leaving his presence open for the future.  The infinity stones (gems) were finally explained here.  I’ll touch on that in a few minutes.

Thanos: I’m not sold on the whole CGI thing, but Josh Brolin’s delivery and the life he brought to Thanos is downright frightening.  The fact that this could end up being the most powerful villain we’ve ever seen on screen is a scary thought, but one I’m anticipating greatly.

That being touched upon, what do we know and where can it go?  The infinity Gems.  Let’s see.  The Tesseract from Captain America and the Avengers movies was the Space Gem (now in the hands of Loki who also has the gauntlet used to contain the gems).  We know that now.  We also know that Malekith The Dark Elf was using the Aether to change the universe in his image and liking.  Hence the Reality Gem (In the hands of the Collector).  Ronan used the Power Gem in Guardians of the Galaxy to give him enhanced powers (in the Nova Corps safe).  Loki’s Staff in the Avengers had the Mind Gem in it.  This was not confirmed by Marvel, however they said that it could be.  It only makes sense, AND I can argue this with anyone and prove it if they want to debate it.  I’d invite the discussion actually.  Anyway, the Mind Gem is in the presence of Baron Von Strucker (we see this at the end of CAptain America 2.)  Now with there being six gems in all, that leaves the Soul Gem and the Time Gem.

I think one of these (most likely the soul Gem) will be used in the Doctor Strange movie.  It’s been confirmed for 2016 this movie will be an “acid trip” unlike any other movie.  Delving into magic and the soul will make this movie completely unique and it only makes sense to tie in this gem with whoever else will be a part of it.

As far as the Time Gem, I don’t want to speculate too much about Avengers Age Of Ultron, but if they do anything similar to the comic storyline of Age of Ultron, then Time Travel could be involved.  Did earth somehow get a hold of the Time gem to use?  Why do I say this?  In the little footage we have seen of this movie, there is a scene where everyone but Tony Stark is dead.  That’s what it appears to be.  Could he reverse time and change that or maybe Scarlet Witch will alter the probability that this is what happens.  Who knows.  The Antman movie is supposed to happen around the same time as well, so maybe Hank Pym will have had it in his lab and is studying it.  Only TIME will tell.  🙂

There are also 5 unannounced films coming before 2019 by Marvel, and that is in addition to Captain America 3 and Guardians of The Galaxy 2.  One of these will obviously be Avengers 3.  Another I think would HAVE to be Black Panther.  Thor 3 is also in there as most likely.  So what about the last 2?  I’d like to see a female Ms. Marvel movie in there.  All of that should come before the last 2019 movie, which could be called “THE THANOS IMPERATIVE”.  It’d be a great long buildup to a part one movie.  This could literally be centered around Thanos gathering the gems.  It would be a part one and then for 2020 they could bring in part 2 “THE INFINITY WAR”.  Now…. the ONLY way that this can happen and even be thinkable as a way to defeat Thanos with his gems is to have everyone in existence team up.  No, we don’t need people like Hawkeye or even Captain America.  What we need is Thor, Hulk, Adam Warlock and Nova, Ms. Marvel, Doctor Strange, and a few others to go against Thanos.  Maybe even Loki who will want the power for himself will join in the attack against the Mad Titan (after all, Thanos will have to steal from him to get what he wants).  I even hold out hope that some of the rights to other characters will revert to Marvel, but who knows.

So what do you think?  After this long winded review and speculation, I have to give it a rating.  Originally I was going to give this movie a point lower, but BECAUSE of it’s originality and the ballsy move that Marvel made taking the chance on such a masterpiece, I’m going to give it 8 out of 10 sCrypt coffins.  Please, comment and feel free to discuss your own speculations and feelings toward the movie.