FILM REVIEW: THE AVENGERS AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

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Tony Stark: Shit!
Steve Rogers: Language.

Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson

Synopsis: As The Avengers defeat the remaining forces of Hydra a new threat arises as Tony Stark and Bruce Banner attempt to develop a new security system for the world. When their experiment backfires, Ultron is born. A computer program/robot who wishes to exterminate humans from earth.

With mammoth expectations from Marvel Studios after last year’s critical and box office successes Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers Age of Ultron arrives with slight disappointment from fans. It is an impossible task for Whedon to top his first attempt of combining Marvels favourite heroes in 2012’s The Avengers. It is also an impossible task to keep the Marvel brand fresh off last years quite surprising hits especially Guardians of the Galaxy. However with a deeper look you can see that Whedon actually has topped the original with better chemistry between the heroes, a better villain with James Spader’s sly Ultron and bigger and better action set pieces beginning with a snowy attack on Hydra’s base in the opening scene.

This photo provided by Disney/Marvel shows, Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers, in the new film, "Avengers: Age Of Ultron." The movie releases in U.S. theaters on May 1, 2015. (Jay Maidment/Disney/Marvel via AP)

Avengers Age of Ultron actually delivers what everyone wants; nothing more and nothing less. Perhaps that is the issue with the Marvel brand in general, with every film released we are teased with the next feature. In 2011 we knew with the releases of the original Thor and Captain America and the success of the two Iron Man films that we would have an Avengers film the year later. With the ending of The Avengers and the reveal of Thanos we knew we would get an Infinity Wars Avengers film coming up. With Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World we knew we would get an Avengers sequel in 2015. There are no more surprises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even with the release of Age of Ultron we know next year we’ll get Captain America: Civil War. Marvel has even released their five year plan to the press so we all know what adventure our heroes will go on eventually. This takes the surprises and stakes out of the picture for Avengers AOU because we know Iron Man and Captain America will face off in next years Civil War and Thor will fight again in a further sequel in 2016. All we can do is try and enjoy this particular adventure on its own terms even through we know no one significant will die and nothing significant will happen that will alter Marvel’s five year plan.

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However sitting in the cinema and watching the action unfold, listening to Whedon’s witty banter come out of my favourite heroes mouths I can’t help but feel in love. I love Downey Jr’s snark and wit in Tony Stark, I love Evans naivety and stoic in Captain America, I love Hemsworth’s viking swagger as Thor, Johansson’s sexy Black Widow and Ruffalo’s brooding Bruce Banner. There is also Renner’s new and improved Hawkeye, Cheadle’s over-eager Rhodey and Anthony Mackie’s dedication to Cap in Sam Wilson. There are new surprises with Spader’s brilliant Ultron, Paul Bettany’s unique and amazing The Vision and Elizabeth Olsen’s sexy and scary Wanda Maximoff. Unfortunately Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff is a bit of a letdown after last year’s superior version in X-Men Days of Future Past. As you can see I’m a huge fan of Marvel and even though I know where each franchise is going I can still enjoy this adventure on its own terms and I think in time people will look back at this as one of the better adventures in the Marvel canon. Even though there are multiple plot lines, too many characters and the novelty of the heroes coming together for the first time removed, I think Whedon still excels as a comic book film auteur. It is a shame he is leaving the franchise however I believe he will deliver another excellent film soon.

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With excellent performances, brilliant action set pieces and a great villain in Ultron, Whedon has delivered a worthy sequel to The Avengers and also paves the way for more adventures that I can’t wait to see.

Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Slough of Despond 3: Advanced Blogging

In order to write a review for the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, I got information about the film, behind the scenes information, release dates and trailers via my RSS feed from my account on theoldreader.com

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

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Plot synopsis: After being frozen for over 50 years, Captain America struggles with his new life in modern day America. While working for the secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D under Nick Fury, his growing concerns of corruption come to a fold when an old threat returns.

Review:

The seventh film from the Marvel Studios is surprisingly one of their best. In 2014 the Marvel brand is as strong as ever. This year we will see four blockbusters based on Marvel properties, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spiderman 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. However only Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are produced in the Marvel Studios and follow the timeline of other Marvel Studios properties such as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and The Avengers. Following these films adds extra weight as we have gotten to know these characters, and minor characters, over seven films now. After playing Captain America for the third time, Chris Evans appears comfortable in the role and takes the character to places he hasn’t been before. Supporting characters such as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Bucky Barnes (Sebastion Stan), Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) are fleshed out and given higher stakes to play with. New supporting characters including Sam Wilson aka The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Kate/Sharon Carter aka Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp) also bring gravitas to the film. This all adds to the films overall tension and development. The writing also helps these characters shine with their witty banter to each other keeping things light in the right moments.

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The film is different to other superhero properties as it plays with the genre conventions of the paranoid spy thrillers of the 70s, while also staying faithful to the genre conventions of the modern action superhero film. The film is a rush from beginning to end. With breathtaking action sequences including hand-to-hand combat, car chases and city street shoot-outs, every scene keeps you engaged and hungry for more.

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The direction of brothers Anthony and Joe Russo is superb showing an eye for incredible action set pieces as well as tender moments between characters coming to terms with the films twists and turns. The score by Henry Jackman also helps to amplify the tension, especially in the action set piece on the city street where we are introduced to the winter soldier, a high frequency pitch is played which jars the audience and gives the soldier an extra edge. Cinematography from Trent Opaloch is also top notch. This film is an excellent addition to the Marvel franchise and superhero films in general.

This is the 2014 action film to beat, with three more Marvel films on the way this will be hard to top.

Rating: 4 Stars

Cast & Crew

  • Director: Anthony & Joe Russo
  • Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson
  • Screenplay: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
  • Producer: Kevin Feige
  • Music: Henry Jackman
  • Cinematography: Trent Opaloch
  • Editor: Jeffrey Ford
  • Studio: Marvel Studios