Grumpy Bird Reviews: Avengers Age of Ultron

i had one of those most rare moments as a parent of an infant: A few free hours to watch a blockbuster movie. And, lo, he did behold the Age of Ultron and then he spake words as to its quality or perhaps lack thereof. Read on, to see how he did proclaim it.

avengers-age-of-ultronAvengers Age of Ultron

Director: Joss Whedon

Quick Review: Biff, bam. Pow! And other words that describe slugfests. That is how this movie starts and it never quite stops, just quiets down every now and then. And it is those quiet moments that I got the most mileage out of. Honestly, the first few action pieces, while nifty, just left me cold. They were mostly pretty but I just didn’t care. Fortunately the movie won me over by the end and I was completely dialed in for the last third. Basically, this movie had a lot of charm, but wasn’t as filling as I’d hoped. At the same time, I’m eager for a second viewing and hope I’ll get more out of it then.

Analysis: Yet again this movie brings a host of great performances. I can’t really think of anyone who did a bad job, but I’m not sure if the large cast was used well enough. Was there enough Cap and Thor for me? I don’t know. But then again, those are just characters I generally want more of regardless. Same with Banner, except he doesn’t have his own film to headline. I will admit to having enough Iron Man. I like RDJ a lot, but am ready for another player to take the main role. Speaking of Hulk and Iron Man, as cool looking as their fight was its a shame that it was designed to be consequence free and all blamed on mind control rather than a legitimate gripe between team mates that went out of hand.

Still, the performances I enjoyed the most were Spader as Ultron and Andy Serkis as Klaw (yes, I’m using the comic spelling). Klaw is one of those characters that I never imagined I would see on screen and Serkis brought him to life in such a big way. It just makes me more excited for the Black Panther movie. And Spader, well, what needs to be said. He just has such a great voice that the Blacklist keeps being aired. I just want to listen to his delivery, despite the fact that overall the Ultron plot was rather dull to me.

Yet again we have a comic book movie villain who has a compelling portrayal but a rather tired plot. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Ultron wants to kill… because that is what evolved computers do? He also wanted newer and better bodies. Sure. But visually they all looked rather the same. It just seemed a missed opportunity to not make Ultra’s physical development go all over the place. The same with his emotional development. He basically started up and went right to “kill all humans.” Thank goodness Spader was able to make that interesting.

Also, I don’t get the choice of having a parade of Iron Man suits as the disposable villains. I know a PG-13 rating for a superhero flick needs those disposable minions so that we can revel in violence without having to think about consequences. But Iron Man suits have served that role in Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3. Hopefully we can put those in the corner for a while. I want to play with different toys.

Overall, I thought it was a fun flick that had its flaws. I think it will go down as a fun afternoon show that will hopefully serve as an important link. Still, there isn’t enough here to really let it shine on its own.

Edited to add comments about the Black Widow controversy (by request): I let this out of my original post on purpose. Truth is, I wasn’t sure if this was still a thing or not. I live in Japan, so the possibility to even see the film didn’t exist until a few months after it was released in the States and I was avoiding anything that might contain a spoiler. Sure, I use the internet so I knew that some were unhappy with how BW was portrayed and even had it spoiled that she had been sterilized. But it seems the topic had died down and after seeing the movie I didn’t feel much need to address it. But there was a question about my thoughts. So, here they go:

After looking over the internet it seems that most of the negative comments about the treatment of Black Widow comes from her “confession” scene where she tells Banner that her training in the Red Room ended with her being sterilized in order to ward off distractions and keep her as an efficient killer. Then she says that she, too, is a monster. From what I can tell, those offended by this scene felt that it was her sterilization that prompted Natasha regarding herself as monster. And while I cannot say they are completely off base, my reading of the scene was that it was the efficient killer aspect of her confession that she felt made her a monster. Natasha is a character that his lived a life dripped in blood and being a fan of her comics leads me to believe that even her movie incarnation has led a murky life that if filled with questionable acts that have been dipped in blood. I do think ignoring that huge elephant and narrowing in on the forced sterilization as to why she feels like a monster is perhaps missing the point.

All that said, I can understand why it is an easy jump to go to that sentiment. I live in a society where in many ways a woman’s worth is tied to her actively having children. Female lawmakers in Japan have been shouted down with cries that they should go make babies, and this is by their male counterparts. So, I can understand some being quick to take offense. But at the same time, looking through the former discussion it seems that something was being done a molehill to make it appear bigger.

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