Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Review From Korea By a Korean Non-Fanboy!

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Review From Korea By a Korean Non-Fanboy!


Hello. This Is Prof. Akia located in Korea. Today, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) opened early in Korea relative to the US. and here are my thoughts. Before proceeding, I have to say that I am not a Marvel Fanboy  and not even a Super Hero comics lover. Thus, there is no positive biased here. Maybe some negative ones since I am not a fan but I’ll try to be as objective as possible.

Introduction
The current glut of Super Hero and especially Superhero team up movies is actually really interesting as they are intertwined to the degree that one big failure can make a huge negative impact on the whole caboodle. There is a reason why multi-movie spanning franchises are not the norm. Well it would be more accurate to say that they WERE not the norm.

With the success of the Marvel’s line of SuperHero movies, multi-movie spanning franchises is the new thing which is actually odd since no one other than Marvel has been able to do it properly and even they have not proven that they can sustain it. In this vein, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) is an important test case.

Will the Superhero team up movie live on?

While not the iceberg that sinks the Titanic, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) does not provide proof that it will. I mean that Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) is not great and a lot of the problems come from the “Team up” aspect of the movie.

Lighting did not strike twice!

The Plot?
Do I need to talk plot regarding this movie?

As the Marvel movies go on, the plots of these movies have tendencies to get thinner and thinner.  While people seemed to be in love with “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014), you cannot say that there is much plot in this movie other than going from point A to B to C, then on to D.

I am not particularity asking for anything deep. A simply McGuffin chase would suffice. There is value to pure momentum when you are not intending to focus on actual human “Drama”. People tend to hate on “Iron Man 2” (2010) and it is not a masterpiece of the movie. It is not even a much streamed lined movie. However, it did have momentum fueled by the over the top personalities on a self-destructive bender.

The overall plot of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) is nothing special even for a Marvel movie. This aspect is not the most serious problem with it. What is… is that the story of the movie feels very fragmented as if portions of stories from many different single issue comic books were “loosely” taped together without considering if all of this would properly fit into a 3 act Hollywood movie.

The Value of Momentum
In the case of the first Avengers movie this was less of a problem as, even though it had various characters in the movie, the movie was basically the “origin” story of the Avenger with Loki driving the narrative. In the case of Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), the movie is essentially trying to tell too many stories at the same time and the story of Ultron is only one of them and not the one driving the whole movie.

There were several times that I felt that “I know you are trying to develop the character and this may get interesting… but why are you telling this story now? Aren’t crazy robots out there now?” It does not help that a lot of the actual “Drama” feels awkward and out of context with the primary mode of delivery is monologue.  There are so many character monologues in this movie and, every time they start to monologue, the movie just crawls to a stop.

Because of this fragmentation, not only does the movie not build up sufficient momentum but also the actual plot elements in individual stories become sillier than what you would expect because they have to be compressed even more than usual. In a way, there is a feeling like this movie is just a series of 15 minute Avengers cartoon episodes starring Ultron as the main antagonist but they are all self-contained.  This means that some elements of the movie seemed to keep being reset to a degree.

For an example, there is an evil lair in the movie that plays a part in majority of the short stories within the movie that the Avengers keep having to take over… over and over again. If they had just blown up the whole place and not just abandon it every time leaving most of the stuff operational, there would not be a movie in its current form.

All of this would have been more manageable if Ultron was able to drive the movie as Loki did previously.  While the portrayal of Ultron has a lot of interesting elements, his role as a story telling function is not. He is just a collection of your typical “I am a robot and I want to kill all humans” clichés and without a single clear vision or purpose. Even the “killing all humans” thing for it or him is more like one of his hobbies.

What about the action?
So, the story is not good. You could say that “Look at Furious 7 (2015)! It is just basically a collage of real life “Grand Theft Auto 5” Let’s play videos. It was fun because of the action set pieces. “ I have issues with this train of thought but okay. How about the action?

On the pure set piece level,  Furious 7 (2015) takes the cup with it being both creative, bold, and well executed. In contrast, the action in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) is rather boring. There is nothing in the action even new to Marvel fans. Most of the action set pieces are rather generic. It also seriously hurts that the movie decided to go the “Michael Bay’s Transformers” approach to action. Most of the action is fast blurry objects hitting each other that I cannot really make out what is going on for most of the time.

At least the action in Transformers had some weight to them. Well more like sound effects pretending to be weight. With Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), the CGI department is weirdly using old rag doll physics engines to render their graphics. Most of the action feels weightless. This is more prominent in the earlier half of the movie but it’s still there through out of the movie.

Think… “The Matrix Reloaded”  (2003) but a little better…

The Character of Ultron
Since its name is on the Marquee, let’s talk about Ultron. Because of the nature in how the story is made up, Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) has a lot of throwaway characters: new and returning. You have Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. They are used to awkwardly forward the plot but you can remove them and write around them easily. It would actually make for a better story.

They are throwaway characters!

Considering all the previous Marvel movies including the last Captain America movie, you may think that Hydra will play a role in this movie but they are tossed out rather quickly. You can write around them easily. Toss them out.

They are a throwaway evil organization!

The movie has a Korean actress Claudia Kim playing Dr. Helen Cho who is more irrelevant than the actress Rebecca Hall’s roll in the Iron Man 3 (2013). Even the locations are throwaway. I mean there were literally no need to place scenes in Korea because the action scenes are so fast cut and blurry that if you were not paying attention you would not have noticed it was Seoul, Korea.

At least, the last transformer movie looked like it was shot in China!

As a side note, I think that a lot of Koreans will get pissed out with this whole thing. Having mostly white/”American” superheroes destroying the city is not the best thing for the strong anti-US sentiment here.

Getting back to Ultron, he or it is also sadly a throwaway character in the vein of Malekith from “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) in term of the plot. However, the saving grace of the character is that he or it is voiced by James Spader! He is just delicious!

A major problem with him and his copies (i.e. matrix agent smith clone) is that they are rather weak in the vein of Star Wars Episode 1 battle droids in order for the Avengers to have a chance both in terms of physical and intellectual levels.  Even Black Widow can punch out a Ultron clone that is basically an Iron man suit.

This leads to third act!

Repetition
The third act is basically a rehash of the 3rd act in the first Avengers movie but with a location change and a slight twist. However, it is basically the same ticking time bomb and like 6 Avengers somehow fighting against several thousand of non-human enemies.

There is no practical story difference between the Utron Clones and the aliens from the last movie. In fact, considering that the aliens had more interesting large stuff to fight with,  Utron Clones are rather lame and drop out of the sky like $300 Costco bought drones. Even the ending has Iron man trying to sacrifice himself to save the planet just before the clock ticks to zero.

Give that role to somebody else for a change!

There is simply not enough new to garner interest and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are just dull with fake accents.  In the speedster competition, X-men franchise is the winner. And Scarlet Witch is just a poor stand in for Loki’s mind trick powers.

Conclusion
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) won’t break the Marvel movie franchise. It survived “Thor: The Dark World” (2013). However, it will not be a feather on Marvel’s cop either. The most serious problem is that I was bored for 85% of the movie and the remaining 15% only amused me a little.

Prior to watching this movie,  I was at least interesting in watching  future solo movies with Tony Stark / Iron Man, Thor, Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, or even Nick Fury. However, after this movie, I lost that interest. They just seem flatter versions of their characters.

So, what if we got more scenes of Hawkeye in the movie? He is still Hawkeye! He is an archer in a superhero fight. He is still boring even for Agent of shield. Should I, not a comic book fanboy, care about him and his 10 minutes of so call “drama”? Tony Stark should have just given him a Power suit and he would had been a much better addition to the fight.

Tony has more than a dozen of them lying around!

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) is very cluttered but not to the degree of the last Spiderman movie. This actually makes it more disappointing. There is some good stuff in there that were wasted by shoving them into this movie and by rather lack luster execution. In fact, a lot of the “drama” in the movie seemed awkwardly executed which is not characteristic of the director Joss Whedon…

In a lot of ways, I think this movie just got out of Joss Whedon’s hand somewhere in the planning process. It is a shame!

Overall I give this movie a C grade.

Score: C or 4.5/10


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