David Thompson
Subscribe
Blog powered by Typepad

« Modern Romance | Main | Elsewhere (160) »

April 24, 2015

Comments

John D

Taking the kids tomorrow. "Mostly fun" will do.

David

“Mostly fun” will do.

Oh, it’s fun and I did enjoy it. But it isn’t as exhilarating as its predecessor and it’s too crammed and erratic to work as a compelling narrative. Watching the thing – all two and a half hours of it – it feels like another hour or so was left on the cutting room floor. Lots of connecting tissue and development of ideas seems to be missing, and as a result some scenes feel rushed or truncated and robbed of drama. The Vision, for instance, is realised really well, so far as it goes, but his ‘birth’ – a sort of Frankenstein’s monster’s monster - is vague and confused, skipped over in a rush, and this kicks the dramatic knees from under his final showdown with Ultron. It’s a quick sketch of drama, not actual dramatic oomph.

Ultron too is nicely realised – James Spader’s performance is excellent and always fun to watch – but we don’t get enough of him. We don’t get enough sense of how threatening he is or why he wants to do what he wants to do. His plan to purge the world seems random, and instead of developing the principal villain the film keeps cutting to cameos and subplots, many of which go nowhere and exist only to foreshadow films that haven’t been made yet. (Thor wanders off to bathe in some magical waters and see some kind of prophesy, none of which is relevant to the problem at hand. It’s just a set-up for the next Thor film.)

That said, the set pieces are huge fun and there are plenty of them. The opening attack on a Hydra fortress is pure comic book mania, and the Hulkbuster scene is great too. The big finale is certainly big and visually remarkable (and has some actual heroism amid the obligatory destruction) but, again, the Big Diabolical Thing™ has no real build-up to it. It’s happening because something really big and dramatic needs to happen at the end, but it isn’t particularly clear how or why we get there. It feels like some key scenes are missing. There are plenty of shorter scenes that work much better. Earlier, when Wanda is screwing with the Avengers’ minds, there’s one shot that looks like stop-motion animation and is wonderfully creepy.

And so there are lots of bits I’d happily see again, and will when the thing comes to Sky Movies. But I didn’t leave the cinema wanting to go back again the next week. Which I did with the first one.

TomJ

The opening, while impressive action wise, is a case in point: unless you've seen the Winter Soldier recently, it rtakes you a while to work out what's going on or why to care.

That said, I went in almost expecting to be disappointed because it couldn't live up to the first one or Guardians: it didn't, but it wasn't bad in it's own right and there were some loveley little interplays (the discussion of Mjolnir's balance for one) that a repeated viewing, free of the shackles of expectation, might be more appreciated.

David

The opening, while impressive action wise, is a case in point: unless you’ve seen the Winter Soldier recently, it takes you a while to work out what’s going on or why to care.

I suspect that may become more of a problem as the franchise grows in scope and interconnectedness. The film has so many nods to the broader continuity and films forthcoming that it lacks enough focus of its own. It doesn’t really have much sense of a scheme being set in motion and a race against the clock, both of which are pretty much essential to the kind of story being told. There’s a lot of stuff that’s sort of implied, hastily, but not in a very compelling way. Again, it feels like the normal dramatic build-ups to key events have been cut down to a bare minimum to avoid a 3-hour-plus running time. Unfortunately, that makes the film feel a little disjointed and, at times, undramatic.

David

Though I did like the Hulkbuster’s automated punching cannon. “Go… to… sleep!”

TomJ

What is colour of belt in geek fu you get for laughing at its deployment system being called Veronica?

David

Heh.

Dom

Uh, what's the name of the movie?

David

Natasha & Bruce: Forbidden Love.

TomJ

Doctor Starkvision or: How I Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love AI

David

And when you think about it, the plot is basically, “Stark and friends narrowly save world from nightmare apocalypse caused entirely by carelessness of Stark and friends.”

TomJ

Ultron was ever thus, substituting Pym for Stark.

David

Given the small matter of an Eastern European city no longer existing, you can imagine the meetings with lawyers afterwards. “Let me get this straight. You were using some salvaged and largely unfathomable alien technology to create a robotic global defence system, itself a bit of a grey area, and at a crucial juncture you all went off to… get drunk at a party?”

JuliaM

You had me at 'mostly fun'... :)

JuliaM

Courtesy of Twitter, outrage ensues in mum's basement:

https://twitter.com/lizjoyce5/status/591258919839916032

Connor

and at a crucial juncture you all went off to… get drunk at a party?”

A party with Scarlett Johansson and Cobie Smulders. #mitigation.

David

#mitigation.

I see your point. It’s rather like, “Yes, the nuclear reactor is perilously unstable and needs constant monitoring, but downstairs Chris Evans could take his shirt off at any moment.”

It would be a dilemma.

In fact, there’s your movie.

Ted S., Catskill Mtns., NY, USA

20-word review:

Not another computer effects-laden comic book movie. Overlong, lacking coherent plot, and an overused teal and oragne "color" scheme.

dicentra

an overused teal and orange "color" scheme.

You cannot overuse that color combo. It's one of the best.

Like violet and peach.

L

It feels like some key scenes are missing.

Saw it yesterday. Agree it's 'mostly fun' but it's been edited to fuck. 7/10

David

it’s been edited to fuck.

Well, it’s one thing to have a gag about the villain not explaining his evil plan to the heroes, but not clueing in the audience until the last minute is a bit of a bum move. As you say, the editing feels harsh and consequently the story is a little disjointed and overly compressed. There are nods to dramatic themes (retirement, children, parenthood) but they’re not developed or put to any real use, which makes the intended pay-offs less dramatic than they could be. For instance, the party scene where various Avengers attempt to lift Thor’s hammer is fun in itself and is obviously meant to have a dramatic pay-off later. But the pay-off is abrupt and feels rushed, as does that whole scene. We don’t really see what the other Avengers make of the new arrival, or what Ultron makes of him, or what he can do, and there’s no time for the character to make any impact beyond the visual.

I’d imagine a Director’s Cut would be more satisfying, dramatically, but at least three hours long.

Jonathan

It was quite fun but I left the cinema vaguely disappointed, and with the feeling that the whole purpose of the plot was just to set up the next film.

David

It was quite fun but I left the cinema vaguely disappointed,

Yes, same here. It’s a bag of good bits and mostly fun to watch, but structurally it’s a bit of a shambles. It feels like a third of the film is missing.

Jonathan

It feels like a third of the film is missing.

Exactly. I think it struggles as a stand-alone film, seeming more a collection of, not terribly well connected, set pieces than a coherent story.
Plus Ultron isn't scary enough - I just didn't get the sense of peril that I did in the first film.

David

seeming more a collection of, not terribly well connected, set pieces than a coherent story.

Yes. It was so severely cut that at times it wasn’t easy to follow, jumping from one continent to another and with characters disappearing to do things that we didn’t see and that apparently had no bearing on the story. (What was the business with Thor, the lightning and Vision’s ‘birthing pod’ thing? It all seemed a bit random.) We did, though, get some unconvincing Hawkeye backstory, which I doubt anyone besides Jeremy Renner cares about. And it’s telling that one of the key images from the trailer – Cap’s shattered shield – isn’t something that actually happens in the film you’re going to see. It’s just a foreshadowing of a different film that won’t be out for three or four years.

I imagine Whedon was under great pressure to cut the film down to two-and-a-half hours max, thereby ensuring extra screenings-per-day during the crucial opening weekends. Problem is, it really shows. Apparently they’re planning to release a longer version on DVD, which may be less bumpy and disjointed.

Jonathan

Apparently they’re planning to release a longer version on DVD, which may be less bumpy and disjointed.

I hope so. Shades of Blade Runner?

Jonathan

David, Tags......

David

Fixed.

Jonathan

Thanks.(Makes low obeisance)

TomJ

This is an interesting take on the film's themes: http://t.co/Ip4y3Uamtw

David

It’s “and then” writing rather than “therefore”.

That does seem to be a problem for the film, at least in its current edit.

The comments to this entry are closed.

For Amazon US use this link .

Your filthy consumerism supports this blog.

Blogroll