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Let’s Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Written by James T. George

Avengers: Age of Ultron hit theaters this weekend, assisting Furious 7 with kicking off the summer movie season. Age of Ultron may perhaps be the highest profile movie during the usual blockbuster-laden time, and LevelSave’s Austin Griffith and myself have assembled to discuss our thoughts.

Warning: full spoilers for Age of Ultron as well as all previous Marvel movies are fair game. 

Jim: Austin? Are you worthy?

 

Austin: Well, if you put the hammer in an elevator, it would still go up, but an elevator isn’t worthy right? Really though let’s take it from the beginning… That intro! Tell me you loved it.

Jim: I did. In my opinion, the strongest part of the movie was either that, or the party scene a little bit later. It had everything these movies are supposed to have. Action. Humor. Even a little world-building.

Jim: I particularly enjoyed the Hulk demolishing that bunker.

Austin: As someone who hasn’t cared about Marvel in awhile and was expecting to just see this because my friends wanted to, that intro set the tone for me. Having not re watched any of the movies besides initial release, it also helped establish who was who excellently, in terms of leadership. That Thor & Cap gong combo was a great moment too.

Jim: Yeah, it sure set a tone, but I’m not sure the rest of the movie lived up to that tone. A lot of this movie felt disjointed to me once this intro scene wrapped up. That scene had an interesting purpose: Somehow pull in the important things that happened since the first Avengers.

Jim: It’s interesting because I got the distinct impression that the rest of the film went out of it’s way to ignore what already happened and instead pave the way for future movies in the series. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it was pretty clear to me that the fallout from Winter Soldier was an afterthought once Hydra was dealt with.

Austin: Maybe it’s because I’ve never really followed the MCU besides casually watching the films, but i didn’t feel anything was disjointed nor out of place. The only point I looked down at my watch was about an hour in, at which time I thought it was really dragging on… That might of been because I had had a lot of soda and was very badly in need of a bathroom break.

Austin: I can certainly agree that the intro and the party were some of the best parts. Vision’s bits were hilarious and the final fight was of course great too. What exactly felt disjointed to you?

Jim: I’m not sure what the message of the movie was. It could be a couple of things.

Jim: “Humans stop world peace from being a thing” – Ultron

Jim: or “Artificial Intelligence is bad” – The Avengers (minus Bruce and Tony)

Jim: or “We’re a team, and we do things together” – Rogers

 

Jim: with other marvel movies, it was always very clear what the message was. In Iron Man 1 it was about redemption for Tony. In Captain America it was about Duty. In Winter Soldier it was about the problems with Government (and how to respond when govt gets out of hand).

Jim: I guess I was not following the message Joss Weadon was sending us.

Austin: I’d say not only that artificial intelligence is bad, but that the ultimate quest for peace is bad. I believe it was Vision who said something along the lines of “they’re foolish to believe that chaos and order are opposites.” I think that could sum it up. Something about a certain level of chaos being needed to experience “peace”. You could also sum it up with Ultron’s use of no strings on me. Unchecked power never leads to peace, no matter the goal.

Jim: All good points, and I suppose its fine to have multiple messages in a film. I think that it’s hard to stay on target when you have so much happening in just two and a half hours, and maybe that’s where I’m getting hung up. I will say that I think there’s a director’s cut of this movie coming. They had to have left a ton of stuff on the cutting room floor.

Jim: A friend of mine and I spoke about that very subject today and he made a great point:

Jim: Something to the tune of: “Lord of the Rings showed how long movies can still be filled with substance. You may not like the length, but the content was important.”

Austin: I’m fairly certain I’ve seen somewhere that Weadon’s original cut was just over 3 hours, so that’s at least forty minutes of content we’re missing. How did you feel about the new characters we saw? Vision, Ultron, Quicksilver, and Scarlett Witch. Did you think they were done well for the time we had them?

Jim: Oh yes.

Jim: I enjoyed all the new faces. If anything, it got crowded. I wanted to see more of the twins and less of Rogers and Stark bickering.

Jim: And there’s not enough hours in the day to satisfy my need for more Vision.

Jim: Paul Bettany’s Jarvis has been one of the most recognizeable representations of A.I. I can think of. For him to finally get some real screen time was awesome.

Jim: Similarly, I was very pleased on how Hawkeye and Black Widow were handled.

Jim: If anything, they had the best performances of the principle cast. They were written that way, but it worked for me. I enjoyed their parts more than the others, I think.

Jim: Can we have a Black Widow movie now? Please?

Austin: Id love that but I don’t see it happening. She’s too unknown to the general public, even after this one. I agree about Jarvis. He was great, and I loved the way they showed a physical manifestation of Jarvis and Ultron communicating in the dark. Ultron “discovering” himself was very interesting and I felt some definite inspiration from “Her” there. Maybe that’s just my imagination though.

Austin: Seeing more Hawkeye was easily the most needed part of the movie. He barely existed before AoU and now he’s a full fleshed out character with a likable story. Was I the only one who felt it was massively building up to him dying after all that kitchen talk?

Jim: No. I got that too. The “Old Man” jabs from Quicksilver only exemplified my fear of that, but thankfully it didn’t happen.

Jim: Although… Hawkeye did seem to be the crabby old man of the bunch. Not sure if that was the point or not.

Jim: I was a little impressed at how rapidly we discovered he had a family and yet it didn’t feel overly forced.

Jim: And it gave us a great avenue for a nod to Quicksilver’s sacrifice at the end. I don’t know if you noticed, but Hawk’s newborn got a pretty familiar middle name.

Jim: Speaking of characters though: I could have used a lot more of Warmachine and Falcon.

Jim: Having warmachine show up at the end was fun. Why wasn’t Falcon there too?

Austin: I didn’t notice the name until it was pointed out to me. I did appreciate that though. My comic-centric friends weren’t a fan of losing quicksilver before he even got his name, but I personally thought it was good and added some realism to the world. Made the audience realize that they aren’t all protected by plot shields.

Jim: Absolutely. I’m curious if he was written out partly because his portrayal in the X-Men franchise was well-liked. Marvel, for all it does great, has had a muddy path to ownership of movie rights of characters. The Twins were some weird loophole allowing them to appear in both the MCU and X-Men franchises.

Jim: But I did enjoy this version of the character as well, and while I’m sad to see him go, I definitely see the strengths of giving the rest of the group some sense of consequence to their actions.

Jim: Ok, changing gears: How essential is this movie?

Austin: I feel like it was necessary. We brought together all of the MCU and set them on a clear path, and for once, illustrated how big of a fight this was for people who didn’t know every intricate detail like myself. Thanos at the end and the fact that Thor is aware of all the hyper [I meant infinity] stones seems to illustrate the Avengers are aware of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Jim: Yeah, I think you’re right. More importantly, I think this movie conveys an inconvenient truth: The Avengers won’t be around forever.

Jim: Their parting ways at the end hints at that from a fictional standpoint, and shows the new members starting their journey.

Jim: But from a real world standpoint, I’m guessing some of these actors will not be around the franchise forever either.

Jim: They aren’t cheap to keep around, and I’m sure with every movie it only gets more expensive. Contract negotiations and what not.

Jim: I think the symbolism of the lesser known heroes joining the team was done with some pretty purposeful framing.

Austin: Even as we know them, we’ve lost Iron Man and Hulk (apparently). Thor went back to Asgard and Hawkeye went home. I know that RDJ said he is leaving after Captain America 3 and Avengers 3, so he’s certainly on his way out, as upsetting as that is.

Jim: Oh yeah… RDJ still is the keystone holding the entire franchise together, as far as I’m concerned.

Jim: He’s also the most expensive actor in the group, from what I understand.

Austin: He’s definitely top tier. I’ll be upset when he’s gone, but that’s at least three years out so there’s always a chance of things changing.

Austin: Completely off topic: Thor’s face when Cap budged the hammer a bit was one of my favorite bits.

Jim: It was even better when Vision handled it. The whole audience at my showing gasped at that moment.

Jim: Not many have held Mjolnir. I don’t recall if Vision ever did in the comics.

Jim: I know Superman did in a DC/Marvel Crossover though. Fun Fact!

Austin: I know Cap has swung it at least once in the comics, because he’s the purest mortal. Something like that. I think Vision being able to has something to do with the infinity stone as well as his moral alignment.

Jim: …. Or he’s just an elevator.

Jim: But seriously: let’s get down to the real reason we’re here. Do we think everyone should see this movie?

Austin: I can’t see any reason for anyone not to see this movie. It’s funny. It’s serious. It’s real. If you care about the characters, you’ll love it, and if you just want to treat it as a comedy movie you’ll be just as pleased.

Jim: Yeah, despite some of what I’d call questionable choices, this movie is quite good, and serves as a very important bridge to the future of this franchise.

Jim: I don’t think I had quite as much fun watching this as I did Guardians of the Galaxy, but anyone who is invested in Marvel in the slightest should get to the theater for this movie. Definitely.

Austin: But God dammit was I pissed at the final line of the movie.

 


Authors’ note: How did you feel about this format? Have any ideas on what we should name it? Let us know in the comments.

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About the author

James T. George

Jim, a proud native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, enjoys a variety of things other than games, movies, music, sports, and technology, but usually falls prey to character limits when filling out

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