Avengers: Age of Ultron

maxresdefault-1The blockbuster season is finally upon us with Joss Whedon’s much anticipated Avengers sequel kicking it off. It’s just a shame then that Age of Ultron is the first real disappointment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Age of Ultron catches up with the Avengers post Captain America 2 as they team up to bring down HYDRA in an incredible opening action sequence that tells us there’ll be no time wasted in getting the Avengers together this time round. Now that they’ve been fully established and brought together in the conclusion to Phase One, Avengers 2 feels much more free to explore the dynamics of individual characters and thankfully this means more time spent on Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), with emphasis on Hawkeye. Hawkeye’s character development is increased a huge amount and it’s a joy to see more focus on the characters who haven’t yet had their chance of a standalone adventure while Captain America, Iron Man and Thor steal all the slots.

Age of Ultron also boasts one of the most menacing MCU villains yet with the titular character. James Spader’s soothing voice is terrifyingly appropriate as the homicidal AI and his ability to be everywhere at once makes him a credible threat that can destroy the Avengers in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately he goes down the traditional villain routine of biding his time to make his victory all the more sweet but that’s to be expected.

We also get the arrival of two new team members for the Avengers in the form of twin mutants (or ‘enhanced’ as Captain America calls them due to Marvel Studios ban from the use of their own species name) Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). And herein lies the first of Age of Ultron‘s problems.

Although it’s not really their fault, the fact that we have already had a glimpse of Evan Peters’ turn as Quicksilver (albeit a different incarnation of him) in last years X-Men: Days of Future Past made Taylor-Johnson’s appearance hard to digest. While Peters managed to become the highlight of DOFP in one simple yet brilliant sequence, Taylor-Johnson is scattered throughout Age of Ultron and yet still doesn’t manage to bring anything new to the superhero. Again, this is hardly Marvel Studios fault, but with the way they conclude Quicksilver’s involvement in the story, it almost feels as if they saw DOFP halfway through shooting and gave up trying.

This isn’t the only place where Age of Ultron slips up though. Unfortunately, thanks to Marvel releasing information incredibly early, its not too hard to find out that most of the main cast are signed up to pop into the rest of Marvels films up until around 2019 when Thanos is due to finally rear his big purple head in Infinity War parts 1 and 2. Thanks to this, Age of Ultron feels like it can’t take chances with the main cast lest it ruin Marvels big plan and more importantly, the casts contracts. And, knowing that Captain America: Civil War is just round the corner, at times turns Age of Ultron into a 140 minute teaser trailer for Captain America and Iron Man’s upcoming face-off.

All this would be fine and is almost expected by now, yet still Marvel can’t help but turn the final act of Age of Ultron into the usual big action packed mess of CGI destruction that, after 9 films has passed the point of comfortable viewing into just plain boredom. To discuss this more would be to add another page or two of ranting so I’ll instead suggest you read Andrew Jones’ article on the situation here as I can’t put it better myself really…

In the end Age of Ultron concludes the 2nd phase of what it appears will be a trilogy the same way that it began in Iron Man 3. With an interesting story that is eventually butchered with an infestation of CGI robots fucking shit up. One thing’s for sure, if you’re still with the MCU after Age of Ultron, chances are you’ll stick through to the end now. Here’s hoping Phase 3 brings better ideas and adds more risks. And if that doesn’t work maybe DC will have taken over by then…

3/5

A Tarantino Trawl: Reservoir Dogs

It seems that, in the past year or two, my interest in not only writing about, but watching films has somewhat lessened. So in a pitiful attempt to bring back my love for movies, I figured I’d finally try my hand at writing about the work of the man who became my cinematic God back in 2009 when I first laid my eyes on Pulp Fiction.

But before Pulp Fiction, it seems only right that I tackle Tarantino’s first feature length. Of course if I were doing this properly I would start at the very beginning with Four Rooms. But maybe we’ll come back to that later…

Released in 1992, Reservoir Dogs very quickly became a much discussed film after screening at Sundance. And rightly so. It’s an extremely powerful film to kick off ones feature length directorial CV. From it’s opening scene in which Tarantino’s character, Mr Brown discusses the music of Madonna whilst Steve Buscemi’s Mr Pink explains why he doesn’t believe in tipping, right through to it’s mexican stand off conclusion, Tarantino gives us plenty of gems which, even 21 years after release, are still discussed and debated.

Reservoir Dogs 1

 

No doubt the most memorable of scenes is that of Michael Madsen’s sadistic Mr Blonde torturing a cop whilst dancing to Stuck In The Middle by Steeler’s Wheel. A scene that quickly attached itself to the song and will forever be remembered together. Madsen’s portrayal of Mr Blonde is incredibly performed. From the second he enters the film, having been watching in the background as Mr White and Mr Pink argue like an old married couple, he brings about an air of, simply put, coolness about him.

However the real stars of Reservoir Dogs, for me at least, are Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth as Mr. White and Mr. Orange respectively. Throughout the course of the film their relationship blossoms from professional to an almost father/son connection as White protects a dying Orange. Although, with the way in which Tarantino lays out the timeline of his screenplay, it’s the father/son relationship we see moreso than the professional one.

In regards to the story, Reservoir Dogs certainly isn’t the most original story Tarantino has come up with. However he does manage to bring the traditional heist plot with a fresh twist. Not showing the heist at all and instead focusing on the aftermath of the failed attempt. Tarantinos quick paced script with it’s hefty dialogue will make you rush to keep up and have you thoroughly entertained as you try to figure out who the undercover cop is.

Not much can be said these days about Reservoir Dogs that hasn’t already been said. However the main reason I wrote this is just to bring back my absolute love and adoration for films. If you haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs seek it out. It’s on Netflix so you have no excuse really.

Do feel free to comment with any suggestions on other reviews you’d like. I’m planning to come back to this more than I used to so if you’d like me to look back over any other directors when I’m done with Tarantino, let me know. I’ll be back probably in a week or so (Maybe sooner) with Pulp Fiction. And I may put some other stuff up in the mean time…