The Avengers Age of Ultron – More Than Action

My wife and I always look forward to a Marvel movie and catch up with our friends who also play the online game Marvel Heroes. This time round, Dave and Zep showed up. I booked the tickets way before the show, when the duo were still holidaying in Australia.

Avenger Age of Ultron

I must admit, since I am not actually a comic book reader, having played a Marvel game helps a lot in my understanding or rather a glimpse of what Marvel universe is all about. In that sense, this movie makes perfect sense to me. For those who may not have any background on Marvel, I would imagine that the storyline could be slightly confusing at times.

Here is a screenshot taken from the game’s login screen. Those who have watched the movie would immediately be able to relate this to the opening scene. This shows the effort Marvel has put in to promote their movies from all possible channels, including video games.

Age of Ultron login screen from Marvel Heroes

Back to the movie, it is a great follow-up to the first Avenger. Captain America, Ironman, Thor, and Hulk together with Black Widow and Hawkeye forms the Team Avengers. Ultron, the artificial intelligence is the villain. Then, enter the mutant twins Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. I like the black humor Ultron has. What I like most though is the side of vulnerability from all these heroes. Some sort of depth to the movie, and not just action and special effects.

This movie is long. 141 minutes. Each hero has given enough airtime to shine. Never a dull moment. I enjoy watching this thoroughly.

Of Captain America The Winter Soldier And The Amazing Spider-Man 2

What a treat for Marvel fans this year. Earlier on, we have the follow-up movies for Captain America and Spider-Man. Later, we will have X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. Some of us who are fans of the online game Marvel Heroes have already planned to meet up and watch the upcoming X-Men together.

Captain America 2 and Spider-Man 2

3 years ago, my wife and I have watched the Captain America movie. I love his personality being so close to people on the ground. 3 years later set in modern time, Captain America is on a mission with Black Widow. The plot I must admit sounded complicated initially. Had I not been introduced to the Hydra organization thanks to that online game I am playing, I would have been pretty lost because I don’t read that much comic. As far as the story goes, S.H.I.E.L.D. is infiltrated and no one can be trusted. It is up to Captain America in leading the people out of the crisis. The villain turns out to be Captain’s best friend and now called Winter Soldier. This film has plenty of action as well as good plot twists. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson are both charming on screen. What I found missing or what I really wish to see was some romance in the story, which is none. That leads to the second movie my wife and I have watched – The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

It is hard not to love Spider-Man. He is agile and funny. And he is popular. Andrew Garfield is the perfect actor for this role. There is a vulnerable side of his. But also possess an inner strength and determination that I feel lacking in the previous incarnations. Spider-Man is a super hero after all and he has to be strong. I also happen to like Emma stone as Spider-Man’s love interest. Gwen Stacy is not portrayed as some girls who are helpless without her superhero boyfriend. Being a real life couple may have explained the amazing on-screen chemistry. Plot-wise, this movie is not as memorable as Captain America’s. But I was thoroughly entertained and enthralled by the story between Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.

Both are good movies. I can’t wait to watch the next two!

The Avengers – Is It Really That Good?

My life could be in danger if I meet Jason Johnson in person.  Mr. Johnson is a professional movie critic working with one of our local papers called The New Paper.  He said on air in The Backseat With Maddy & Cheryl that anyone who does not like The Avengers shall be thrown at by the stones or drown in the sea.  You either like the movie, or you shall die.  I am unsure if it is OK to make death threat on air in Singapore, even as a joke.  But I am scared.

Anticipation is a double edged sword.  Now, if I am to tell you that I am not that crazy over The Avengers, would you think that I am nuts?  One billion dollars, the film has made worldwide.  One user in Google+ wrote an article: Just how does piracy kill the film industry when The Avengers made a billion?  I do not know.  Since the beginning of time, men steal or cheat, especially when we know that there is no consequence to our action.  But, we are also willing to pay for an experience that worth the dough, especially when we cannot wait.  Complex creature men are.  Maybe the answer to privacy is advertisement.  And it may lead to this eventually.

The Avengers is a true feast to the fans of the superheroes.  It is like an all-star movie.  Some female viewers may drool on Thor the God of Thunder, who is played by Chris Hemsworth.  Can he really act?  It is hard to tell.  In a sci-fi setting whereby I presume actors are working with the blue screen most of the time, what is good acting when we are so overwhelmed by the mind boggling CGI?  Then we have the talented Robert Downey, Jr. who plays the Iron Man.  So much emphasis is on him and that is understandable.  His script is lively and humorous.  He is quite possibly the only true actor in The Avengers besides Samuel L. Jackson whose airtime is rather limited.  50 million is likely to be Downey’s salary with bonus when the rest of the actors get a single-digit million dollar check.  Contrast to Tony Stark’s carefree personality is Captain America who prefers discipline and has the general awareness of public safety.  Chris Evans is charming in his solo movie.  He is charming in The Avengers too.  I find Loki creepy so not much to say about the only villain in this movie.  Hulk has a new face, again.  For some strange reasons, I do prefer the new Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo.  All of a suddenly, we have a loveable, still scary Hulk.  I am still not convinced how those pants can fit the big green Hulk.  Our movie buddy TK said that those are stretchable pants.  Yet Dr. Bruce Banner was totally naked after waking up from a bad fall.

There are a bunch of noteworthy side kicks in The Avengers.  Canadian actress of How I Met Your Mother – Cobie Smulders – is Nick Fury’s assistant.  Maybe in my mind, Robin is a funny character in that TV series.  It is hard to reconcile how she can be part of S.H.I.E.L.D.  Nevertheless, Cynthia seems cool with that.  Hawkeye’s performance is a surprise to me.  Little did I know that Jeremy Renner has also acted in The Hurt Locker.  To be honest, I watch The Avengers because of Black Widow.  This character should have her independent movie title.  Why do we so seldom see female superhero films?  I don’t know.  Maybe it is a Western thing.  Are the heroines in The Fifth Element, Resident Evil, or Ultraviolet count as superheroes?  Is it just a Marvel thing?  Scarlett Johansson is attractive and she plays a deadly and intelligent agent.  I do not know what she means by too much blood in her ledger as I am not a comic book reader.  I could only imagine.

The Avengers lacks the pace and intensity of The Hunger Games.  And it is not as emotionally driven as, say, Daredevil.  Some bits of the story do not seem to make sense.  But, it is a hugely entertaining movie, a feast to the eyes – both in terms of CSG as well as star power.  Each superhero has his chance to shine and be useful to the plot, in their capacity.  The story is incredibly simple.  Part one is about superheroes facing off with one and another, which to me is silly.  Part two is about superheroes working together to fight off that one villain, which is exciting.  I don’t see any clever strategy in place.  The overarching story seems to be a continuation of Thor.  Like many superhero movies, I would probably forget this one before the month turns June.  There are some memorable moments though.  And the award goes to Hulk.

Captain America: The First Avenger – The Charm Lies In The Heart

Of the four showcased in the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far – Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America – I would say, Captain America wins my heart.  He is humble with a never give up attitude.  He is keen to contribute, in whatever capacity he can.  He represents the common people and when he wields his power, he completes his missions with a team.  At times he has the whole army behind him.  In this aspect, Captain America is unique among the four.  He is a character I can most relate to.

The story is set in the World War II era.  Hugo Weaving plays the role of Hitler’s head of advanced weaponry and he is the bad guy.  Captain America, together with the US soldiers and defected German scientists play the good guys.  It is an alternative universe when laser guns can vaporize opponents and open up walls.  Chris Evans has a likable personality, perfect for the role of Captain America.

I am often intrigued by filmmakers’ choice of love interests for the superheroes.  Don’t they deserve … better?  Perhaps Hayley Atwell has this classic look.  Do you agree with filmmaker’s choice?  As for me, I have been scratching my head ever since the day I watched the trailer.

Like all the Marvel Cinematic Universe inspired movies, if you have the patience to sit through the end credits, you will be rewarded with a short clip.  In additional, there is a trailer for The Avengers due to be out on May 2012.  Looking at the casting list, my heart goes kaboom!  Yes, Scarlett Johansson, I am going to watch The Avengers because of you.  It is disappointing that Edward Norton is replaced by Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.  In any case, I have high hope for The Avengers, especially after seeing so many clips of its forthcoming over the years.  That has to be good, yes?

So tell me, of the five movies – Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America, which ones are your favorites?  For me, I like Iron Man and Thor best.

The Losers – Actually Pretty Fun To Watch!

How come I have watched so many movies lately?  In recent Spanish classes, our teacher often asks what we have done over the weekend.  Most of us would have watched at least one or two movies.  One dude has watched Iron Man 2 twice!  OK.  The power of peer pressure.  But still, what do Singaporeans do over the weekend?  How come so many of us watch so many movies all year round?

Cynthia and I were going to give “Losers” a pass.  But our buddy TK wanted something brainlessly fun.  And with all the work stress over the weeks, I really don’t mind to have a good laugh.  I suppose one wouldn’t lose much if to watch “Losers” on TV.  The plot is hardly memorable.  But still, the chemistry between the actors and the fun factor … Gosh!  It is absurd.  Some parts don’t make sense.  But with enough blood, sex, and money in a strong dose of humor, I am not complaining.

An environmental friendly nuclear-like bomb that is capable to decimate the entire island with no pollution – designed for the green terrorists?  At that point onwards, I didn’t take the film seriously.  That works.