Avengers: Age of Ultron

Hey there viewers! We’re back today with the much anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron. Directed by Joss Whedon and starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth, the film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments.

Avengers: Age of Ultron follows the creation of artificial intelligence by Tony Stark in hopes to keep the peace. However, when things go awry with the robot, named Ultron (James Spader), Earth’s Mightiest Heroes must stand up to the task of taking him down and keeping the world safe.

7.0 out of 10

Both Screenwars and Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated blockbuster release, Avengers: Age of Ultron, are back and ready for action after a productive siesta – albeit the robot-crushing crew are better prepared for earth-threatening battle…

But regardless of Screenwars’ aptitude in fighting the Marvel supervillain, the Avengers are still subject to our critique; instead Zach and I suit up with word processors, thinking caps, and a family sized bag of Doritos to battle our nefarious nemesis – a film review.

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Age of Ultron certainly lived up to the visual expectations of its prequel, and again the film crew put on a fabulously flashy show of special effects that depicted everything from the glistening and idyllic Stark Tower to the wasted war zones of Eastern Europe. Hundreds of metal clad (yet surprisingly fragile) robots were brought to life on top of a flying city where a hulking green giant and magically gifted twins, among other incredulous beings, energetically battle as the entire setting crumbles to pieces. In all, Avengers is again a successfully exciting example of special effects that won over the audience’s fixated gaze for a lengthy two hours and twenty-one minutes – which is however, quite the movie marathon.

The plot of the film certainly lent itself towards the movie’s entertaining qualities as well. The very beginning of the film dropped you right into the action, picking up again where Captain America: The Winter Soldier left off with the Avengers attempting to finish off the resurgent forces of Hydra. Without giving away much… the movie progresses and leaves few opportunities for viewers to become bored or be prompted with questions, and in between the fighting scenes sit well delivered jokes and jibes, including the amusing gaffe were the other Avengers, try as they might, are unable to pick up Thor’s hammer. The plotline is nuanced enough to yank the audience into the story, yet it does not require any quantum mechanics-esq thinking to understand the events. Not long after the avengers assemble, Ultron makes his grand and violent first appearance.

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As Marvel villains have come and gone from their big screen spotlights, they adhere to a rough character template where they exact frightening but obviously fictional harm against humanity; rarely do these costumed villains establish real fear in the hearts of movie-goers with their predictable evil-doer monologues. However Ultron became the first villain to cause a stir in my gut, and a quiver in my popcorn clenched hands. James Spader’s metallic and penetrating voice struck the audience; the modulation of his tones created a character devoid of compassion or feeling. The performance was ice-cold, and the spooky, partially burned iron-man mask of his first iteration paired up with the voice acting created a truly haunting character. The evil plan, although typically merciless and far fetched, was helmed by a daunting, truly scary Ultron, whose later robot forms are progressively crueler looking and wield glowing red eyes that channel the lava-like contempt and hatred from within this villain.

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Although I found the enemy to be actually frightening for a change, this chilling nature of his also made the struggle between the heroes and Ultron more compelling. Never before was the righteous path of the beloved Marvel heroes so important and so necessary; the heartlessness and fear-inducing persona of their opponent demanded victory for humanity. The makers of the Avengers did not disappoint, and their efforts created a thrilling and entertaining spectacle out of an often ordinary and only moderately eventful Friday evening. Of course, Age of Ultron is no fine art; instead it is the graphic graffiti to the Mona Lisa, or the skateboard routine to the ballet dance concert. You won’t depart the theater with great wisdom or any novel realizations… but you will be windswept from one hell of a ride.
~Simon

7.5 out of 10

Disney has some great high-class problems going this week: it failed to live up to it’s two hundred and ten million dollar opening by only coughing up a measly two hundred million dollar opening, an issue which we all can relate to I’m sure. Sucks right?

Alas, Age of Ultron (The long-awaited sequel to the first Avenger’s installment) is still a thumper of a film when it comes to the stats: it’s maintained its number one slot on the box office mast for two weeks now and, if the overseas numbers are any indicator, it won’t be leaving there in the next century.

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So, while Disney’s CEOs decide whether they’ll buy yachts or 747s, let us determine how well Mr. Joss Whedon has fared in his latest comic adaption. In my humble opinion, pretty well.

By pretty well, I mean it wasn’t exactly earth shattering. It wasn’t the universe-quaking sequel portrayed by those dark teaser trailers nor was it quite the “Empire Strikes Back”-esque darker chapter Whedon claims he was going for; it was more of the same thing and it was fun. By the end of the movie, we’re pretty much exactly where we were at the end of the last Avengers.

AOSTA, ITALY - MARCH 24: Jeremy Renner is seen filming on location for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" on March 24, 2014 in Aosta, Italy.  (Photo by Photopix/Getty Images)

This was pretty much a carbon copy of every Marvel film. I won’t bother to detour from spoilers because, if you know Marvel’s well-played formula, you know exactly how this will end. There’s a goofy yet intimidating villain, a romantic tease with Black Widow, some cool Iron Man technology, Hulk smashing his teammates, Cap. being folksy, Thor being epic, and Tony Stark (Who has basically become a one-liner machine) giving up the suit it. Of course, there’s table setting. Oh, yes, buster, there’s more table setting than ever. You better get used to it.

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But absolutely nothing’s wrong with the list above, especially if your expectations are properly calibrated. If anything, it’s all done even better than in the first go-around. This time, it feels like a story and not just a shopping list of plot points. There are great scenes of our characters just hanging around and interacting (Whedon has such an excellent grip on these guys, by the way) and said heroes fall neatly into their natural roles in the team. Whereas the first felt somewhat fragmented, this felt like a multipart comic book with just a little chop in some of the action sequences but nothing that detracts too much.

There’s still some odd stuff in there however. It feels a few rewrites away from ascending to an excellent level status definitely. There’s a bit of a shoehorned romance between two of our heroes and some weird little detours in the story and tone that don’t get much resolution. The new characters are a little hit and miss with Vision being the ace in the hole and the “enhanced” (Fox owns the word ‘mutant”. Sorry, Disney.) twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, being just okay. The former doesn’t quite measure up to the Fox’s X-Men version’s enjoyability but thatt’s a bit of an unfair comparison.

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I find myself saying this with more and more Marvel movies but, if you don’t care for the usual Marvel formula, sit this one out. Otherwise, you’re in for some more terrific Avengers antics and more than enough sequel-teasing.

Still waiting on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 though.
~Zach

What did you think of the newest fixture in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below.

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Godzilla

As we continue to roll through summer blockbusters, we encounter the newest, most dynamic version of Godzilla yet, directed by Gareth Edwards. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence, it stars Aaron-Taylor Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Bryan Cranston.

Godzilla follows the discovery of two dangerous monsters who threaten the Earth’s well-being, largely thanks to scientific arrogance. In order to restore Earth’s natural balance, the titular character reawakens to counter these forces, resulting in a destructive battle that captures the world’s attention.

6 out of 10

My 6/10 rating may seem low. Okay, it doesn’t seem low, it is low. But oh man, could this movie have been great. Like really great. When Godzilla was on the screen, boy was it amazing. Too bad he didn’t show up till halfway in. And even after his first appearance, he’s only in the movie for like 15-20 minutes the rest of the way through. Shouldn’t a movie called Godzilla have more… Godzilla? It sounds like a stupid reason to give a movie a 6/10, but that’s the reality of it. The rest of it just wasn’t good enough.

I can split this movie into three parts. Part 1: Boring. Part 2: Insanely boring. Part 3: Pretty badass. Part 1, also known as the part with Bryan Cranston, does not feature much action whatsoever. Fine, I guess it’s unfair of me to be expecting all 2 hours of this movie to be action. And there was a little bit with Bryan Cranston running around in an exploding nuclear factory. But come on, the first third of the film did not feature any giant green monster. I would have liked to see a little bit, to prevent me from getting antsy. Instead, I was irritated before the movie really got itself started. *SPOILER ALERT* On top of that, they just had to go and write off Cranston, who ultimately proved to be one of the better human characters in the movie. He was one of the primary reasons I came to see the movie! His death didn’t even have a noticeable effect on Aaron-Taylor Johnson’s character, Cranston’s son. Blatantly unnecessary.

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Then there was part 2, aka the part with Aaron-Taylor Johnson. Aka, the boring part. Aka the part where nothing happens. I guess this section of the movie is supposed to detail Ford Brody’s (Johnson’s character) journey back home, with the obvious obstacle of the monsters in his path. But Brody is an insanely boring character to put it simply. He has no personality. Nothing he does is genuine. This isn’t a knock on Aaron-Taylor Johnson’s acting skills (okay, maybe it is a little), but the character has no reaction to anything that is going on around him. *SPOILER ALERT* Your dad just died, you’re away from your wife and child, and giant monsters are threatening your existence. Show some damn emotion.

On top of that, the entirety of part 2 was just build up. Build up, build up, build up. Build up. A whole lot of traveling, an unnecessary story line involving an Asian kid lost from his parents, and again, TOO LITTLE GODZILLA!!!! At least we actually got to see him. His introduction in the airport in Hawaii was pretty sick, so there is a silver lining.

 I will admit that the last third is pretty great. Godzilla is a magnificent visual creation, and the final scene where he’s going at it with the other monsters is pretty stunning to watch. Great visual effects that are really entertaining to watch. My jaw literally dropped at the final sequence, where Godzilla… well, I won’t spoil anything. It’s just something you have to see for yourself.

Being completely honest, I was pretty disappointed in the end. The final third of the film couldn’t make up for the disappointing, boring, poorly paced beginning and middle. However, I will say that this is something you should watch in theaters (or a 70 inch, HD TV), if you’re going to watch it at all. Godzilla, both the monster and the movie (but mainly the monster), is a visual spectacle. Unfortunately, it’s pacing (and lack of Godzilla, if I haven’t already mentioned that) really screws it over in the end, which is why I’d say hold off on this one unless you’re a big ‘Zilla fan. 

8 out of 10

Can I just start off by saying I was really sad by how little I got of Mr.Cranston/LBJ/Mr. White? He really gives every performance his all and I hate the fact that these sentences aren’t that much of a spoiler. Still, he has a lot of impact so I can be grateful. Now let’s dive in to Godzilla:

The first apocalyptic-monster film I ever saw was Cloverfield. It was a shaky-cam movie in which a giant monster takes a destructive stroll through New York City and it was also my first J.J. Abrams movie. I can’t quite say whether it still holds up but I remember it being very effective by using one very specific tool: there’s very little monster.

S’right. You heard me. Without spoiling too much, our friend/Japanese national treasure Godzilla (Who, in fact, inspired the movie mentioned above) clocks in about fifteen minutes in this flick. But, man, does he make all fifteen of those minutes count.

Still, I found the moments that were most effective in Godzilla were the human ones. The moments where you just put regular people in tense scenarios. Filmmakers tend to forget how much having genuinely endearing characters really helps. All I really needed besides that was a distant roar from the title character and few rumblings to get me hooked on a scene.

For instance, about 90% of the scenes where the monsters strike do not take place in a sprawling urban setting (Tempting as that may be) but instead take us to cramped vehicles where we just have all of the real panic to keep us interested. Making Godzilla a mysterious entity is also a cool decision as it makes his loud moments far more special.

Those loud moments, by the way, will most likely make up for all the closed-in scenes for those who didn’t care for them. For lack of any better phrasings: Godzilla kicks ass. He just does here. That’s all there is to say. I was somewhat thrown off by a decision made to elicit some support for him from the audience but I think it actually works upon evaluation.

I also did enjoy how they broke away from the usual “Godzilla attacks!” plot. I had mentally prepared myself for it but was pleasantly blindsided by some excellent monster vs. monster fights (Thank God for Toho!). I think this had a fair amount of people surprised (Especially the kid in front of me who exclaimed “THAT’S NOT GODZILLA!” upon seeing the first monster)/

All of that being said, the main characters are, well, monster movie main characters. There’s not a lot going on with the core cast and the actors aren’t given a heck of a lot of material to work with. Each one sucumbs to the general formula but that is to be expected with Godzilla. In fact, there are skips between the protagonists’ stories that do seem a bit long.

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So, if you came to see Godzilla, you’re gonna see Godzilla. Just not all of the time. And, in this case, that’s the best way. It makes the climax stand out all the more once we see him do what Godzilla does best. And what he does isn’t very nice.

IMDB: 6.6
Metacritic: 62
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%