Avengers Age of Ultron – A Review

Joss Whedon directs the second chapter of the Marvel superhero multiverse in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremey Renner, and Scarlett Johansson return along with new stars like Elisabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and James Spader.

Because I hated the first Avengers move my expectations going into this were abysmally low and that is perhaps why I came off more impressed than I expected. While there are still plenty of gaping plot holes but there is a lot more done in terms of a worthy villain, a plausible catastrophe-in-waiting and in terms of character development with respect to the hulk and especially black widow and Hawkeye.

The gang is busting up some shady looking eastern European mobster who seems to be using Loki’s sceptre in some form of weapons development. After a scene reminiscent of Nolan’s Inception where blurry blobs fight other blurry blobs we are introduced to the Maximoff twins Wanda and Pietro Aka Scarlett witch and Quicksilver. RDJ aka Tony Stark is shown a vision of what future looks like which set off a series of events which will lead to the downfall of the avengers and the possible annihilation of the human race.

Recovering the Sceptre Stark goes about trying to uncover its secrets and sets in motion the Ultron project – where robot proxies of iron man will do the dirty work instead of the avengers having to go in and fight the good battle themselves. I find this to be a very interesting point of view where the heroes are weary of the burden of having to be the saviours of humanity. But what transpires splits the avengers with every single one of them turning against Stark as he sets of a rise of the machines, every AI-enthusiasts worst nightmare ( did you know that Elon Musk aka real-life Tony Stark has paid 10 million to stop AI from turning against humanity?)

The rogue AI-bot is voiced by James Spader and I have no shame in admitting that I giggle like a little school girl every time Spader speaks. And especially when Ultron tilts its head when speaking “down” to the Avengers you know IT IS James Spader. Through curious turn of events the voice of Jarvis – Paul Bettany comes to life as Vision and this is where the plot made no sense.

Skip ahead a paragraph if you dont wish for the movie’s surprise to be spoilt

Spoiler Alert ->

why would Ultron a Machine with the ability to traverse the internet try to create an android using human cells infused with Vibranium? And why not spend the time it takes to create this vision and transfer Ultron’s consciousness into the Vision be spent on creating more clones of the AI-bots to fight in Ultron’s army? Why are the marvel super-villains so patently stupid? Also once the plan to create a meteor like big-bang which would wipe out the entire human race is unveiled – how exactly does Ultron think he will be able to spawn and spread? I am guessing the big-bang would destroy the internet as well?

<- Spoiler Alert

 

The problem with marvel franchise is that it takes comic-book stories which were written in 80s and continues to push forward with the outlandish theories which make no sense in today’s world. A director of Whedon’s talent must find ways of bringing this forward into the 21st century. They rely on self-deprecating humour to overcome the inherent ridiculousness of the source material.

With Age of Ultron however they try to make inroads into the other neglected aspects of the storytelling, fleshing out the back stories of Black Widow via flashback and visions of what she fears and introducing to the secret side of Hawkeye’s domestic bliss and his out-of-place ness with the avengers in general. Also the romance between Bruce and Natasha is a welcome relief to the general Bayhem of NYC and Sokovia blowing up.

All in all this movie defies the curse of the sequel and ends up being the better movie in the avengers multiverse with the introduction of many many interesting characters and more importantly character development of existing ones.

Watch it for decent action, almost plausible end-of-world scenario and marvel’s coming of age. finally they don’t spend half the movie going into everyone’s back-story and get on with the task of saving the world

 

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Iron Man 3 – A Review

Iron Man3 directed by Shane Black is supposed to setup the second phase of the avengers universe with Robert Downey Jr. donning the red and gold suit as the titular superhero and the PTSDed suffering Tony Stark.  The movie is set in the immediate future after the happening of Avengers where the entire city was New York was laid waste after the aliens and other-world gods descended and the Avengers united.

The movie sees Robert Downey Jr. spending an unhealthy amount of time staying awake as when he tries to sleep he fear the loss of “the one thing that he loves” Ms. Pepper Potts played by America’s most hated Ms. Gwyneth Paltrow .

The main villain is played by Ben Kingsley who fashions himself after Osama bin Laden with video hijacks posting threatening messages to the president of USA and multiple bomb explosions around the world with no apparent traces for the explosives at use. The opening scene with the botanist Rebecca Hall might lend some clues as to what is at play but that is left for later to be unraveled.  Ben Kingsley is wonderful in the most unexpected of ways.

We are introduced to Guy Pearce as the scientist Adrian Killian who apparently had a history with Potts and has come seeking funding for his ground breaking scientific mumbo-jumbo about upgrading the human genetic makeup which Potts turns down because of the ethical ramification (while building super-powered armory suits and teaming up with other worldly gods and a genetically mutated angry green giant does not?)

There are definitely some genuine moments of comedy which unfortunately were mostly lost on the audience I was with – I laughed out loud at the whole “ Hispanic Scott Baio” bit but other than that it is just mostly the dry witty charm of Robert Downy Jr. which carries this through . another funny moment was when Mandarin speaks of doing psychotropic drugs and ending up on streets doing unmentionable things it must’ve rung true for RDJ considering his past dealings. But again it was mostly lost on the audience I was in.

There are some genuine high points in the movie especially involving Ben Kingsley’s Mandarin in the second half of the movie and Robert Downey Jr. is again in top comic form with an unparalleled comic timing.  Guy Pearce brings a genuine menace to Adrian Killian and Rebecca Hall is beautiful and effective in the small but vital role that she plays. Guy Pearce as Adrian Killian is justifiably menacing but the motivations for his megalomaniac behavior are not as resolved.  Don Cheadle is forever a character from Rwanda and I cannot take him seriously as the Iron Patriot or even consider the notion that from Iron Man 4 or onwards he would be donning the red and gold suit.

I’ve enjoyed the individual Avengers movies more than the collective mess that Joss Whedon directed. And with this I enjoyed it as an inoffensive popcorn entertainment with a few genuine laughs. But overall the marvel universe lacks the gravitas that a DC-verse does and the Disney-marvel studio seems keener on getting more movies out there so that they can make a quick buck rather than alter the landscape of cinema in any real sense.  A case in point would be the much touted last snippet which you have to sit through 4 minutes of credit roll to get to and at the end it is nothing but a rambling incoherent insignificant fluff piece whose only value is to show the Iron Man and Bruce Banner in the same scene  with one joke about the Dr.Banner’s Temperament.