Sunday, May 24, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

2015, Joss Whedon (Glee) -- cinema

First up, a complaint.

Fuck you very much for those movies that are meant to be seen in 3D. Age of Ultron was the muddiest, darkest, ugliest movie, that I am supposed to see in 3D, I have seen in a theatre in ages. I almost felt like I was seeing an uploaded cam (pirate movie made with a personal digital video camera) and expected to see someone get up and walk away, on the screen. Which, I admit, would have been very meta.

Now, I also admit, it could have been the particular cinema. I have only recently returned to this cinema after boycotting them for years. After about a half dozen experiences where movies were off-colour, badly spliced after breaks and just plain crappy looking, I stopped going to movies at Silver City Yonge & Eg. But of late, as we have fewer options in seeing movies in non-3D (I cannot see the 3D and it gives me a headache to attempt) we have returned there. For the most part, they have gotten better. But it could have still been their quality control.

But Graig and I have complained before how the 3D industry is muddying movies, because they are meant to be projected and seen via the 3D technology. We don't get two copies, we get a lesser copy for non-3D.

Now, beyond the visual imparity, I rather enjoyed the movie. I have heard too many people state, "Well its not the first one!" and of course it isn't; and it's unfair to compare. First movies are always more bombastic, brighter (no, not the above complaint) and of a wider focus. Sequels are often more directed towards a single point -- this one was about The Avengers and their place in the world. Stark creates Ultron to help deal with his PTSD related emotions concerning the next possible attack on Earth. The twins are bitter towards The Avengers due to their connections to Tony, and his previously war mongering company. The Hydra goons are scrambling to recover post Winter Soldier and Agents of SHIELD.  Banner is having issues with purposely making use of the green guy, and the inevitable deaths he is responsible for. The movie is about consequences, no more apparent than the going-rogue of Ultron.

Tony creates Ultron as an AI shield around the planet. If Tony's kind of creepy Iron Legion bots are controlled independently by a self-aware and efficient AI, then Tony and his Avengers buddies can focus of the more singular threats. Legion bots take care of civilians and mooks, while Avengers focus on the super villain. Unfortunately, the introduction of independent AIs, always comes with a trope --- how do you protect the planet when its greatest threat is its inhabitants?  Well, extinction, of course!

But Ultron is inevitably the source of his own downfall. He believes he is an invulnerable super intelligence, without the frailties of humanity. Unfortunately, he is a megalomaniacal super villain, which comes with its own issues. He is arrogant, overly self confident and he believes he has no emotions. Those are his downfall. That, and teamwork !!

Teamwork is another of the tropes the movie relies on. I like the way Whedon handles the whole loss of Coulson, who could have been brought back, but Whedon is playing like he no longer exists. In steps Green Arr... I mean, Hawkeye, who is not in love with Natasha, who now has a crush on Banner, but has his own long standing family.  Fury lets him hole up in a country home, play farmer and doting on his kids, which in turn lends itself to him playing father figure to the rest of the Avengers. They have been mentally messed with by Wanda Maximoff, one of the twins, who likes to play with minds. After Loki, Clint won't have none of that. And the Avengers need some fatherly advice -- to bring themselves together as a family that works closely together.

This teamwork is what is most highlighted during the end battle. This may be a battle, but they all see it as a rescue mission, as they evacuate the inhabitants of the besieged city. So many people have compared the act to Man of Steel where Superman just focuses on punching the hell out of the bad guys, letting (possibly thousands of) people die. The Avengers do not leave the field until they believe every last man, woman and child is off the rock. Its heroic, to say the least.

The team felt outmatched, after they first encounter with Ultron, at his fittest. Really, despite having The Hulk and a Norse God, they are taken down by Scarlett Witch and her brother pretty easily. They obviously have not gone up against many enhanced. Imagine how small they would feel if they learned Coulson and his team have pretty much taken down half a dozen. But together, as well as the integrated Maximoff twins, they succeed as a team.  Oh, and with the help of Vision [p.s. I like the explanation of why he wears a cape]

As the Avengers turn back the metal tide, he loses control of his non-metal minions -- I really felt the flip of loyalties from the Maximoff twins. Really, they have been played by Hydra since they were kids. In fact, Hydra made them. They believe Stark to be responsible for their family's death. But one peek inside Tony's mind has Wanda doubting that. Oh, she doesn't given up years of hatred easily, but she does see that he wants to protect, not destroy. And once exposed to Steve's boy scout personality, they fall in line pretty quickly. Yes, it takes the nail in the coffin of their city being threatened, at the hands of their ally, but I think she has been considering her place since that first mind play. The speech Clint gives her about being an Avenger is pivotable. They do what they have to do, because they have to, because it is right --- not because it always makes sense. He has no judgement of her, just a plain statement of what she needs to do.

Where does the end of the movie leave them? A little shaken, a little worried about the future. But also very aware of what they are capable of. There is less of a cheer of heroism, as with the invasion of New York, but more of a exultation they have overcome their latest foe. Of course, we are left wondering what is going to be the result of Thor's vision and Mr Bumpy Chin and has Infinity Stones.  What is coming their way?