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.

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.

He’s Just Not That Into You – My Buddy’s Just Not That Into The Signals Of The Opposite Sex

He's Just Not That Into You

My buddy whom I am not going to reveal here must have found the film rather confusing by the girls who dissect signals from a relationship in that kind of detail.  He fell asleep and snored (just a bit) halfway into the show.


Though I am from the male species, I do have my share of trusted moments when consulted by the opposite sex, analysing signals, giving my thoughts on why guys think or behave a certain way.  Girls love to analyse, guys love to theorize – just my observation.  OK.  Maybe “He’s Just Not That Into You” kind of over-dramatized the love relationships in just a bit, I thoroughly enjoy the dialogues and the storyline.

This more than 2 hours movie is loosely segmented into relationship topics such as why he’s not calling, what if she’s not sleeping with you, and etc.  And each topic has a hilarious opening act in form of an interview by an actor unrelated to the storyline.  A film with love stories of different forms and shapes intertwined with one another: a happily married couple with the husband tempted by a beautiful girl (*ahem* voted as the sexist girl alive by FHM in 2006 and I don’t blame the dude – who could resist?!), a girl’s relationship to a guy whom she doesn’t see her future with and involved with another one that shouldn’t have happened, a girl who finds relationships from within the online world, a happy couple who have been living together for 7 years and the girl suddenly wants to get married, and a girl who doesn’t seem to able to find love despite being very active in the dating scene.

There is hope – I think that is the theme of the film.

“He’s Just Not That Into You” has quite an impressive casting including famous actors and actresses such as Jennifer Connelly, Drew Barrymore, Ben Affleck, Scarlett Johnasson, and Justin Long as well as TV stars such as Ginnifer Goodwin of Big Love, Bradly Cooper of Alias, and Kevin Connolly of Entourage.  It is a talented cast with quality scripting.  The only reason I can imagine why this film has a lower than average rating is that if you think too deep on each topic, you may end up dissatisfied.  “He’s Just Not That Into You” doesn’t represent or generalize the guys and girls, the straights and the gays in our world.  It is just a collection of lighthearted stories to entertain.

I wonder which actresses are you favorite ones and why.  Here is my list (and Cynthia likes Jennifer Aniston the most).

  1. Ginnifer Goodwin – She is just adorable and I just love the drama.  I feel her story the most.
  2. Jennifer Connelly – I like the theme of able to deal with any issue in a relationship so long as the couple stays true to each other.
  3. Drew Barrymore – Her role is minor but she puts a smile to my face whenever she appears.  Best line: checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies.