Monday, May 11, 2015

Review: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

There was a story arc in a Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon adventure where they encounter an island that hovers in the sky. This is explained by the ground infused with Upsidaisium, an anti-gravity metal. I’ve also just explained the basic plot for THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.

And the similarities continue. One of the heroes of each can fly. In the cartoon you have Badenov. In the movie you have Romanoff. Both sets of heroes need assistance from an outside authority figure; be it Nick Fury or Captain “Wrong Way” Peachfuzz.

I won’t spoil the ending. You’ll have to see for yourself how Rocky saves the day. But the point is, we often watch dramatic works that remind of us past masters – Shakespeare, Chekhov, Dickens, Moose & Squirrel. THE AVENGERS: THE AGE OF ULTRON falls into that category.

On its own, written and directed by Joss Whedon, AVENGERS AND HIS FRIENDS is a rip-roaring film filled with dazzling special effects and our favorite characters from the Marvel Universe. In a nod to Mr. Peabody they even go to the Wayback Machine to fetch us Captain America. There are also the customary one liners although no one in the movie has the comic timing of Natasha Fatale (who does?). 

And here’s the best part of the new AVENGERS movie. You can play the reels in any random order and the movie will make just as much sense. Don't worry about arriving late, or ducking out for ten minutes in the middle to take a leak, or catching the second half first when it eventually comes to HBO.   The fight scenes will be just as thrilling. Cobie Smulders will be just as hot (and superfluous), and Samuel L. Jackson’s arrival with Capital One cards will be just as timely. 

AVENGERS is entertaining (not as entertaining as the first), but I would still have to give the Rocky cartoon the edge. They had all those great episode titles. To put AVENGERS over the top they needed a narrator to day, “Stay tuned for our next episode: “With Thor you get eggroll” or “A Hulk-a Hulk-a burning love.

27 comments:

MikeK.Pa. said...

What a great time to grow up, when Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mr. Peabody and Fractured Fairytales were our guide to adulthood.

Richard said...

Lots more people die in this one, yet remain unseen. And the heroes congratulate themselves for saving the one person out of 1000. They needed Superman to come and rotate the world backwards.

Jeff Quest said...

Here's a Friday question for you - What do you think of the NBC fall schedule. Nearly no comedy and only held together by baling wire, The Voice and Dick Wolf?

ELS said...

And to make it even better... for the two episodes at the end, I read them while hearing Bill Conrad reading them. DELIGHTFUL!

VP81955 said...

I'm not certain how the "Joss Whedon is God" crowd permeating the blogosphere (I have a high school classmate of mine who from his Facebook comments is particularly strident regarding this) will react to the latest creation of their idol being (somewhat) unfavorably compared to a Jay Ward creation -- though I sense Joss himself might chuckle at the analogy.

Oh, and speaking of "Idol," Fox has announced season 15 of "American Idol" will be its last. For penance for its reality-TV sins, said final season should be melisma-free, after inflicting that vocal style on all sorts of genres that don't need it.

Jake said...

http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/tv-radio/2015/05/11/American-Idol-cancelled-after-15th-season/stories/201505110119

Hamid said...

I loved this movie, mainly for Cobie Smulders, Elizabeth Olsen and Scarlett Johansson. Those cleavage shots of Elizabeth Olsen were rather distracting during the third act showdown but as distractions go, they were pretty awesome.

And now the types who hounded Joss Whedon off Twitter with accusations of sexism will now attack me for daring to say a woman is attractive.

AlaskaRay said...

They were hoping no one would notice.

hamidverified said...

See? Evil twin. Right there.

YEKIMI said...

Thanks to films now being sent out to theaters on digital hard drives you can no longer get the "reels" out of order. However if you get a bad hard drive you can still end up with the color being off or pixelation of the picture. And you can't invite your buddies over to see the film early, now you have a digital license "key" sent to you that won't unlock the film until a few hours before it is allowed to be shown. Back in the mid 70s when the Led Zeppelin concert film "The Song Remains The Same" came out a projectionist I knew was late to work. He skipped one reel of the film to get back on schedule and no one in the audience was any wiser. Can't say the same for another projectionist who not only got the reels out of order but had some of them backwards and upside down. Alcohol was involved in that escapade.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Friday Question: Ken, a favorite show of mine, Undateable, has been renewed, but according to NBC, all of its episodes will be broadcast live. While the Live episodes the show recently had worked, what would you think (as either a director, writer or showrunner) if the network forced this on you? How would it change how you drafted scripts or blueprinted the series?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, not as entertaining as the first, but some parts were terrific.


In the office with just 6 scripts to read. Good start, I got a free coffee.

Remember,
Keep re-writing
and evolve as a writer!

Anonymous said...

Great analysis - it holds up.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Ken, you and I have the same taste in women. Cobie Smulders, Natalie Wood AND the svelte Natasha Fatale.

Mark said...

While I enjoyed Avengers: Age of Ultron for it's fight sequences, I left the movie theater feeling nothing. And that's the thing about Marvel movies -- they seem to be completely devout of anything to say. They're movies about nothing. And not in the clever Seinfeld way. The best way I can describe them is as "thematically incoherent." What are these movie about, really, other than a generic "good vs. evil". There was the Hulk subplot and the Hawkeye subplot, but how those relate to the Ultron fight? What is the Ultron fight even about?

Anyway, I was wondering what your thoughts are on that subject and the current superhero movie trends.

VP81955 said...

YEKIMI said:

Back in the mid 70s when the Led Zeppelin concert film "The Song Remains The Same" came out a projectionist I knew was late to work. He skipped one reel of the film to get back on schedule and no one in the audience was any wiser. Can't say the same for another projectionist who not only got the reels out of order but had some of them backwards and upside down. Alcohol was involved in that escapade.


Something similar: In the mid-1960s, there was a famous case where two of the three reels of "The Notorious Landlady" were shown out of sequence on "NBC Saturday Night at the Movies."

Pizzagod said...

Can't happen-no William Conrad or Gerald Mohr to narrate.

Johnny Walker said...

I think I liked it better than you did :)

Sure, the action sequences were boring, but Whedon tried to infuse more interesting character moments whenever he could. Even if I was bored by some of the action, I appreciate his efforts to create an action movie that was character led.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but did Stan Lee have a cameo with the pesky moose and squirrel?

Norm said...

I was sitting on the other side of the same theatre on Sat. afternoon (no money exchanged so my Rabbi won't be upset).

I was so wrapped up in the technical side of the film, I was hardly paying attention to the plot.

I hope my Christian friends aren't offended by Samuel L. Jacksons' comment:

"multiplying faster than a Catholic rabbitt!"

Buttermilk Sky said...

The flying island of Laputa comes from "Gulliver's Travels." Dean Swift enjoyed a smutty joke (la puta = the whore).

DBenson said...

Actually, for a Big Summer Action Movie I thought it held it pretty well. The comic book science and philosophy were at least coherent, in contrast to the usual "It's impossible to beat him . . . UNLESS:
-- We punch him in the face often enough!"
-- We use a trick from the the Junior Scholastic Book of Brain Teasers."
-- We make a weapon of Kryptocheatium, an element we found just before the action finale."

Being a bit less glorious than the first one is unavoidable. You can only say "This is the most fearsome and undefeatable menace in the universe!" so many movies in a row.

Even the Harry Potters had this problem. Every film would end with Harry being celebrated for exposing and defeating an evil menace, usually the new faculty member (Hogwarts doesn't do background checks?). And the next film would usually suggest everybody had forgotten and he was Harry the outcast again.

A third Avengers is going to be tricky. They ended this film by rounding up a bunch of promising second-stringers. Unless Falcon, Vision and War Machine get their own hit movies in the interim, it's going to feel like a long-running Broadway show will unknowns filling the star parts. If they do bring back the franchise players, like an awards show where each arrival on the red carpet makes a quip, does property damage, and hurries away to make room for the next.

Donald L said...

Rocky and Natasha; both voiced by the incomparable June Foray. Just wanted to give the Queen of Cartoons her due.

Aaron Sheckley said...

Both shows are cartoons, but I'll take the subversive comedy of a Jay Ward production over yet another bloated superhero slugfest any day.

MikeN said...

I'd like to see the Ed Norton version of Hulk. Didn't know he had this capability. Plus how much swearing did he add to the script?

Daddy Background said...

I enjoyed the movie. This review came at me from left field and I think I enjoyed it even more than the movie because it made me recall that, YES!, I had seen that Moose and Squirrel cartoon.

Upseedaisyum!

Ultron, "I'm not a robot" said...

First, this blog post makes me want to watch Rocky and Bullwinkle. A lot. I feel a trip to Amazon.com coming on. (It's a short drive.)

Second, this blog post made me want to sign in as Ultron, just to also click the "I'm not a robot" button and have a stupid Beavis/Butthead laugh for myself.

Charles H. Bryan