Review: Avengers Age of Ultron

SPOILERS Follow so please just know this ahead of time.

So before you read what I have to say about this review just remember these are my own thoughts. But also remember these are also thoughts that many others, specifically speaking in the movie creation business, also have voiced and that should mean something.

Also if you are a marvel fanboy there is nothing I can say that will most likely change your mind so in all respects simply take it as it is and know that unless you can approach this piece with a mind in which Marvel can and has done wrong then you will scoff and laugh.

Without further ado here is my review of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron

So I was able to watch this movie recently with several other friends and I gotta hand it to Marvel. If there is anyone in the world who knows how to take something that is very estranged and also as weird as comics and break it down and put it into bite sized chew-able morsels of goodness it’s Marvel. From the beginning of the movie till the very end it had all the goods that you would expect from a Marvel movie. Brisk fighting, dialogue that was witty and at the same time illogical but funny, lots and lots of destruction, poor character development, ex machina moments that magically happened, worthless characters dying, and of course last but not least the super heroes saving people and helping others even though in reality it was a completely stupid idea when the ramifications were put into case.

See lets put Captain America’s logic to the test at the end there in an equation of sorts. Save the lives of everyone aboard the floating Rock and have the world perish or should we just forget everyone on the floating Rock and instead save the some 6 billion people that would die if this rock managed to hit the earth? Gee that seems like a difficult one to answer cap. Call me brutal … call me heartless but that seems like a fairly easy choice in this case. It’s similar to how Batman never kills his enemies because he’s “better than them” and yet he always in the comics lets joke live and captures him and sends him back to Arkham only for the Joke to escape again and kill people.

It makes you wonder really are your morals or ideals so strong that you MUST do this even though hundreds of thousands of people might die or are they actually incredibly weak because they don’t realize the fault in the problem. Yes this is the logic that this movie beholds to and Avengers by all standards is a GOOD movie … if we are comparing it to the transformers series.

I mean I love the fact that Ultron, even though he was in control of literally everyone’s money, didn’t attempt to cause destruction by simply screwing with the price of oil or the stocks and causing a worldwide financial meltdown. That would have made it impossible for the Avengers to do literally anything after all he could skyrocket the cost of fuel making they’re jets implausible or the skycarrier impossible to use. Or he could have built hundreds of thousands of tiny nano bots that would simply approach each avenger in his sleep and kill them by eating they’re brains or just killing them.

That’s the level of AI super computer the Avengers were supposed to be fighting against. But once again not only are the villains motives a muddled mess in the Marvel movies except for a few (Thor, Captain America, Captain America Winter Soldier, Iron Man) they completely neglect the fact that a computer super AI that powerful would literally wipe the Avengers from face of the earth … LITERALLY. Yet, somehow everything clicks together for just one moment like this so we can have a happy ending and watch the avengers save all the people and in the last moments pull together some ex machina magic to make everything just click. Aren’t movies the best right guys.

Not only was Ultron incredibly misused but we was so deeply “nerfed” in a sense. I never felt any fear for the man at all during the entire movie. Maybe it was the quick witty but terribly cheesy Robert Downey Jr. esque lines from him (to his credit he does make him) or maybe it was the fact that he literally himself NEVER did anything to severely hamper any of the avengers. In fact the only damage he ever did was in killing Quicksilver which by all means lets discuss.

So I don’t know if any of you have seen X-Men days of future past  but that version is the real quicksilver. A quicksilver moving so fast, like he should be, that he can literally dodge bullets by walking and also move them which is a crucial point. But in this movie the quicksilver was apparently so slow that he could be hit by bullets which was ridiculous considering that he was VERY fast. Now about him dying though which is just another ridiculous fact. He’s so fast he could have went to the quickie mart grabbed a soda walked back to the scene pulled Hawkeye out of the way with the boy and then picked up a steak at the walmart and had a barbeque before the bullets even left Ultron’s gun. Yet, somehow the fasted man in the world gets hit with a bullet. Really? Come on Marvel, were not idiots.

Here’s the real quicksilver:

But a the end of the day the reason why I have heavily disliked the Marvel movies and even the Avengers movies as a whole is that they are a outdrawing of the system of entertainment for money. Don’t get me wrong money is great and its a wonderful tool and it can drive people to make great things. But it’s still a tool it’s not the ultimate goal and in this movie we see all that it offers but also all that it lacks such as storytelling, character development, and visual artistry and grace of action.

At no point in avengers did we ever feel remotely a close sense of attachment or struggle or heightened sense of trouble. It was the same crap literally we got with the last avengers. Just change out Ultron, heck keep the robots, change the crystal and we have literally the last avengers re-positioned to some place in Russia.

What makes it even more sad is how many people don’t see how suckeded out of they’re money they’ve been. The action was so fast that it never gave a chance for delicacy. There was no grace to the action or even grittiness or anything for which to like about it but rather just smashing and similar foreplay and layout as we’d seen before.  They have the problem of reproducing the same thing even though the first time it might have been good but in nearly the exact same way. It’s the reason why Call of Duty is on the ropes as a franchise after never updating anything from it’s story to it’s visuals engine after nearly 7 or more games … SEVEN! And they are producing more which are exactly the same which is just ridiculous.

But even more so than that the thing that lets me down the most is the loss of potential. You can’t take anything in most of the Marvel movies seriously because everything from the continuous jokes, logic, brisk action, and lack of real character development or artistic eye for shots fights against any moments being heartfelt. Not to mention the continuous use of TV styled close ups and cuts which Joss Whedon is known for but as a whole cut down on the intensity he needs to develop dialogue well. Part of me feels as though the whole movie was one gigantic shoehorn and in a large part it is. They don’t care about what happens with Thor as long as it gets you interested in the next movie. Cap can be irrational because he’s dying in the next movie he’s in with Captain America: Civil Wars so it’s cool since his contract is up right?

Gosh this movie was horribleness redeemed through sheer amount of CGI special effects and some decent acting and dialogue. But at the end I can’t even remember the main theme for the music or any really memorable lines that were worth keeping. In fact my favorite part of the whole movie was seeing Vision born and the end with the fresh faces not only because the pace decided to slow for a moment but also because that means something finally that is new will be introduced. Hopefully that will change the look and feel of the movies they make and give them a serious edge worth caring about instead of shoehorning in a love relationship almost no one saw coming (HULK and Blackwidow).

But they’re summer blockbusters right and summer blockbusters can’t be taken too seriously right? Except we don’t have to with so many other movies out that are far superior in so many levels. Take Mad Max: Fury Road for example which is proof you can have great action with mostly practical effects and yet still have a movie which smashes across all levels literally and figuratively.

However, my biggest fear isn’t what is going happen now but what will happen in the future. No doubt super hero movies and action movies will continue to dominate at the box office after all the numbers just don’t lie on that but that won’t be the case forever. At some point people are gonna get sick and they will just one day stop and then we will see another dark ages of comics happen once more. People forget that during the 80’s comics came to nearly a standstill until the emergence of the graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

Numbers had been dwindling in readership, popularity, and sales for some time since the 70’s and many predicted the death by the 90’s as very possible. Why was this? For the same reasons that what Marvel is doing now will result in. What did they do? Well they produced the same crap for years and years without any real changes continually using low levels of logic to progress stories meanwhile not updating visuals very much or even updating story lines or tropes in any way. Sound familiar?

And yes people can get burned out just take for example the slew of remakes of Old Classical era tales from the Greco-Roman world such as Troy, 300, Gladiator, and Alexander. Where is that genre now? Nearly gone in the same way westerns dominated for years and yet 2 years ago Lone Ranger made it’s attempt at the game and couldn’t even scratch the surface of the box office porthole. This same movie which by all means was the best movie of the year according to Quentin Tarantino who is quite a substantial film maker and director.

Its such a joke that they’ve created a niche market that will implode because one needs only look at Birdman to realize just how stupid they’re plots are. The jokes abound in that movie about how Riggin could simply produce anything and it would make billions as long as it had “Birdman” attached to the movie. And in many ways we’re the same way. Change the names or the people and the characters and it wouldn’t even hold a flame up to anything in the market. But because it’s Marvel of course we must see it.

Please don’t give these people any more of your money it’s just not worth it to see the same crap over and over in retold ways that have no impact and in no way say anything substantially meaningful to movies or in our lives. Don’t do it … just don’t.

Score: 5/10


Review: Cinderella (2015)

So alas I’ve finally brought myself to write about the sleeper hit of the year for myself and also I believe the sleeper hit for many people in a general sense.

True to form, and it’s story, Cinderella didn’t come in with many high hopes. It was hidden lying in the ashes of numerous reboot attempts and several other mentionable “redos” or revisionist movies that had taken a go at the classical subject matter only to fall flat. Where Snow White and the Huntsman (who thought of that name seriously) Maleficient, and Mirror Mirror all tried to do a different take on a classic piece Cinderella(2015) didn’t do anything but tell the classical piece.

And not doctored or changed or re-imagined to suit more progressive or liberal ideals or to be made for a niche market or flip work on its head but the movie to put in its own words, “had courage” and was “kind”. Everything about this movie screams maybe of a succored taste too sweet but its delivery and unyielding belief of its ideals and its portrayals ultimately vindicate it. Combined with a near flawless execution on multiple levels the movie holds up even under heavy scrutiny from a keen eye.

Everything in this movie is based not on its concepts being new but on telling the old when no one is willing to do so. Which is why it is so effective when it uses every imaginable weapon of movie making at it’s disposal. The color grading is phenomenal and the special effects never seemed misplaced. Combined with the overall build of popping tones and beautiful blues this movie was a artistic masterpiece of coloring.

The costumes were done by a three time Academy award winner and rightly so there was not a single piece of clothing that felt misplaced. Every dress and suit accentuated the mood and the scene to perfection especially when taking into account the period being established.

The acting wasn’t over the top but good and refined never delving into too much sappiness but also being willing enough to be reserved when the rest of the movie is drawing them out to the audience in spectacle. It helps as well that Richard Madden and Lily James, had good chemistry onscreen together for brief moments were amazingly complimentary of each other by design and tactfulness.

The music … ohh the music. I could probably have my friends in the music department write a column on just the beauty of the music in the movie alone. The moment when the waltz for “La Valse De L’amour” began in the movie I almost had a heart attack from what I realized was a perfect crescendo.

And of course the directing by Kenneth Branagh. See if you have Branagh direct Thor he’s not fully unleashed and allow to do his full duty (clearly by how Marvel forces scenes and jokes into the first thor movie) then you end up with something soured. But if you put Branagh into his element and have him do what he does best (classic shakespeare and fairytales) then the man excels and leaves you with a masterpiece.

However, when combined you end up with the complete coup-de-grace of Cinderella movies that I don’t think even the original top. The way they color grade Richard Madden’s eyes to be blue like the sky or have the music and emotions pinnacle at the exact right moment in the ball all work together to make a great movie.

I still remember being apprehensive after I heard from friends that it was of a higher caliber than thought. What a Cinderella movie that was made recently that was good? Impossible after all not only had Disney been pumping out mindless Marvel movies but they’re recent slew of live action seemed not much better. So I went in with a more critical mindset and for the first many minutes I wasn’t disappointed. It seemed altogether just a little too corny. That was until the movie played it’s trump card … the waltz.

That moment in them movie when it happened was like seeing clouds break open and the sun appear for the first time in a long rainy day. I could feel the tension that was built up into that scene in a very real and cathartic sense.

In every good movie there has to be a moment that wins you over as the audience, that takes you and allows you to remove yourself from the moviemaking and enjoy the story. Some do it at the beginning, others do it differently, many decent movies are forgotten because they never do it at all. But once a movie wins me over (which can be very difficult) it breaks down my defenses I have to respect the movie out of sheer admiration after realizing how hard I’ve been in judging it. Cinderella did this for me.

And at the end of it all the movie simply wants you to take it for what it is and not try to add or subtract from it but to see it as it’s truly meant to be seen. For a long time I had never thought of the Christian implications of Cinderella but this movie has changed entirely my perspective on the Cinderella story and as a whole how I approach it from a thematic and philosophical standpoint.

Afterwards I couldn’t stop thinking of the music in my head and that scene over and over again. However, the moment that I was truly convinced it wasn’t just a great movie but a phenomenal movie was when I was waiting in line at Chick-Fil-A for my meal. In front of me was a man probably in his 20’s dressed as if he had just gotten off work and looking staunchly stressed and ready to go home. As per usual among people waiting for food … nothing happened. Pure silence for a good 30 seconds. And then the incredible happened, the man in front of me started to whistle “Lavender’s Blue” which is the main theme from the recent Cinderella. I didn’t say a word in that moment and just sat back and smiled snickering to myself knowing secretly what that man hummed.

So there you go … Cinderella isn’t good, or somewhat better than good, or even really great. No, it’s a masterpiece so go see it but above all “have courage and be kind”.

Score: 9/10

Review: Boyhood

So as I said earlier yesterday I was gonna do a slew of movie reviews and next up on my list is Boyhood otherwise known as the movie which is so boring you might call it a documentary … IF you are a regular movie goer.

That’s the fact that runs over a majority of the movie. It’s less avengers and more Americana and Forrest Gump but on steroids. In fact in many ways that is the refreshing aspect of the movie and yet also it’s biggest downfall both being it’s stringent unwavering story tied to reality and also the length which can seem tedious at times.

However, it is these same attributes which augment and provide great understanding to the film and also to the life of our characters which films the actual actors as they aged. That’s probably what is the most impressive aspect of the film in regards to the fact that the actors age with the film which has never truly been done before. But while it is nice the first time around I understand the complaints many had that the novelty wears off quickly and by the end of the movie it doesn’t all seem that apparent they are aging except for the mom and the two children.

Still, if you’re a regular movie goer and not someone into the nuances and subtleties of movies then this movie might not be for you. But what also hurts the movie is yet what strengthens it in its niche marketplace and to whom it is appealing to. It is made for people my age specifically speaking who are either graduating or entering college in the near future or who mainly experienced HS from 2010 to 2014. You might even go further that it’s mostly geared towards boys too which coincidentally also is in the title as well. For example the references to Knights of the Old Republic and the name calling by older boys to get younder dudes to do something or in many cases the constant shifting and moving or the Church experience nearly everyone has. Even the changing of the styles of music is fairly nuanced and I enjoyed that quite a bit as a nostalgic look back.

However, for most people who say the movie is boring you have to understand. The movie isn’t showing life as we want it to be but rather how it truly is and as a result we end up with a rather boring movie as most American’s lives are boring by a large degree. Trust me on this one if they did a life about me and my friends living in the Philippines it might look something akin to Super 8 which I think most older parents had when they were kids. But most kids nowadays in the U.S. are extremely insulated and as a results they don’t experience that same degree of livelihood and adventure many previous generations had with a deregulated world so to speak.

At the heart of the message of the movie is one that is about how meaningless life is and that is something I laud the movie for. It’s actually honest enough to put away the fanfare and put away the fireworks and the CGI and just tell you this is honestly how most of life is. Its a very Sisyphean tale and in that regard I respect the movie quite a bit. It may not give answers but it heads you in the right direction if your paying attention with your questions.

I’d love to give this movie a much higher score and I do understand for everyone it will be a divisive movie. But most likely this movie will be getting a score from myself that is decent if not slightly below par because it’s not for everyone.

Score: 8/10 for me 7/10 for regulars.

Review: Ex Machina

So in the next couple of weeks I’m gonna be trying to get out a slew of published work in regards to reviews. Primarily I focus on videogame and movie reviews but these upcoming reviews will be all movies so sit back relax and I hope you enjoy the read.

So ex machina or “from the machine” as it is known in latin I believe. The name may be a little ancient but this movie is nothing but incredibly ahead of the curve and exceptionally well written and directed. Many movies nowadays don’t take time to develop but this movie is in the complete opposite direction. It lets it’s shots percolate so to speak and allow them to sink in. The dialogue is incredible and the acting and script mesh so well you’d think that the movie was something that was real. But see just like the actual Turing test the movie itself is a test on the audience to see if you catch if this is real or not.

I find it fascinating that the more I think of this movie the more nuggets and beautiful portrayals of decisions and illusion and control are all wonderfully crafted so to make you really believe that AVA is real. Everything from the way that they meld the special effects down to the actor’s speech and her interaction and wit all point to something that we can tell is slightly offputting. A machine so to speak. However, everything else in them movie is trying to convince you that this entire scenario is real and for the most part I would say this movie is a true and successful Turing test. I won’t give away any spoils or steal any delight that you might have at watching it in the future but do know this there aren’t any surprises as a AI junkie that I didn’t see coming but rather the portrayals and realistic attitude it takes toward Artificial Intelligence.

That is ultimately the real kicker in the movie in regards to the build up and even more so the dialogue and actions and foreplay and beguilement. It doesn’t try to say that AI is good or that AI is bad but rather simply that AI is something else entirely and that we have to understand that. I did like the allusions to Jackson Pollock however, and especially the discussions in the movie in the question answer format. However, the most interesting aspect was the discussion of building a machine that could do minutia or systems that do nothing like blinking or even walking. That comes into play with many discussions that I have of AI in the sense that we currently have AI that can do extraordinary tasks but can we get it to recognize facial expressions or even simple things that we think anyone could do such as recognizing how to tell a joke or microexpressions?

The movie does make fun of much of the data pulling and usage however with Bluebook being the major company in the film like google.

Go see it though if you are interested in the topic. Just be ready to ask questions and read up on AI beforehand.

Score: 8.5/10