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.

Iron Man 3 Is Fun!

Now, this is a pretty fun movie to watch.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if I should watch Iron Man 3.  I remember the Iron Man five years ago was great.  I did not like Iron Man 2 and could not remember what the plot was.  Not even a single bit.  Part one was memorable.  Part two was forgettable.  But since both my buddy TK and my wife were keen on part three, and the box office seems to do well, why not give one of my favorite actors Robert Downey Jr. another chance?

As it turns out, Iron Man 3 is fun!  It reminds me why I love the first installment.  There is this human factor as we get to see more on the vulnerable side of Tony Stark than a hero in suit.  Tony Stark as an engineer who is playful at heart and he loves to create.  The end products may or may not work as intended.  Loving it.  I am trained as an engineer and I can relate to this aspect of the show. Again, nothing really going on with the Pepper character.  There are some silly moments too, like assembling an anti-terrorists outfit and gear using common goods purchased from a local DIY store.  Or blowing up robots in order to create a firework.  But all in all, an entertaining movie.

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.

Iron Man 2 Bled My Ears

Normally, I love watching movies at Cathay’s cinemas.  Unfortunately, the Digital 4K version at Cinelesiure bled my ears.  I found it hard to enjoy the movie when the volume is so high.  The low frequency vibration was impressive though.  My entire body shook as Iron Man and the pursuing enemies fly low underneath the highway.  That vibration, those powerful sub-woofer speakers behind the screen.

I remember loving the first installment.  As for “Iron Man 2”, I suppose the beginning is OK.  Maybe because I love F1?  The racing track in Monaco looks authentic.  I remember that famous tunnel.  The ending chapter is comparatively exciting.  Finally, some actions.  Some real good action (two men in iron suit fighting over I-don’t-know-what doesn’t count, does it?).  If you don’t know how red flag in F1 works or how large a particle accelerator is, you probably buy into those far fetched moments.  But still, someone can punch in a pass code, enters into Tony Stark’s laboratory, “borrow” one Iron Man suit like someone walking into a friend’s bedroom and borrows a shirt from the wardrobe – Wow.  How about in “Iron Man” when Tony has to learn how to use the Iron Man suit when in “Iron Man 2”, anyone could just step into the suit, bypass the security (which I presume there is some sort of artificial intelligent?) and fly off with it like a pro?

If I was the filmmaker, I would humbly change two things in “Iron Man 2”.  The palladium in the arc reactor that supposes to keep Tony alive is slowly killing him.  Robert Downey Jr. is one talented actor.  Give him the script to expose the emotional vulnerability of Iron Man, the positive change in attitude towards those who love him.  And if the theme of the movie is about the passing of knowledge from one generation to another as the hero and villain come face to face, develop the story of the previous generation as it should be.  Give us the texture of what the battle is all about.  It is hard to love or hate any characters in “Iron Man 2” as it stands.

On the more positive note, the presence of Samuel L. Jackson and Don Cheadle dwarf the rest of the casting.  I love this pair of actors.  The combat scene of Scarlet Johansson is satisfying to the eyes.  I can picture her staring in a Matrix kind of movie.  The special effect looks great too.  Like “Iron Man”, this second installment has a small bonus clip at the end of the credits.  A very short clip that perhaps doesn’t say much if you are not familiar with the comic.

Right … So This Is Sherlock Holmes?

Pardon my lateness in writing this.  Given the recent turn of exciting events, I hope it is forgivable.  One may ask: Why write this type of entries for every movie you watch?  I am a Cancer and I am fond of collecting movie stubs.  Until one day I realize that the printing on the movie stubs faints over time.  Besides, I don’t get to collect every movie stub since not every ticket is purchased by me.  Now, I have a record of all the movies I have watched on big screens.  And if you read my so-called ‘reviews’, more often than not, I mix it with my diary making it more personal, more fun for me to read in the future.  Interestingly, some do find some of my views beneficial, which I am humbled.  Some find a common voice within, which I am even more humbled.

I have high hope on Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes”.  It is a classic, correct?  I must confess that I didn’t know who wrote “Sherlock Holmes” and I am amongst the group of readers who thought that Sherlock Holmes exists.  Between you and me, I even thought that “Sherlock Holmes” was written by Agatha Christie.  Now you know that I am not quite into the genre of detective stories.

Or more correctly, reading detective stories make me feel stupid.  Clues are supposed to be everywhere.  And you are supposed to solve the crime as you read the story.  Somehow, I am finding it hard to crack the cases.  As the detective takes the final stage explaining the case, like a magician who leads you to the third stage, the answer is right in your face.  And I always feel stupid, frustratingly inferior.  To whom?

Back to the movie.  Given any normal day release, “Sherlock Holmes” could well be an entertaining film to watch.  But you know during Christmas, there were tons of great movies to choose from (blue aliens anyone?).  We watched “Sherlock Holmes” on a large theater and the sound and image quality didn’t quite match the series of movies we have watched over the holiday season.

A couple of observations on “Sherlock Holmes”.  The filmmakers appear to have borrowed Doyle’s characters with the story written by someone else.  My questions are: Why not name these characters something else?  Why not adapt one of the original stories written by Doyle?  I suppose if the story is well known – though I have yet to read any of his books – many people would have known the ending.  And that is not a great detective story because … ?

Our friend TK seems to enjoy watching “Sherlock Holmes”.  Well, dude, if you want us to join you for “Sherlock Holmes 2”, you better join us for “Twilight 3”!