Movie review: Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

My household finally saw Age of Ultron last night, along with our pal Jenny. Which means I can finally start paying attention to my various feeds again, since several of the sites I follow have been all AGE OF ULTRON AGE OF ULTRON AGE OF ULTRON. Several of the other people I follow, too.

Picoreview: I enjoyed it, although it didn’t hit me with quite the same hammerstrike of Awesome that was the first Avengers movie, or the sleekly plotted tightness of Winter Soldier. There were bits of it I have issues with, and in places it felt rushed and crowded. Overall, I’m thinking B+ territory.

The spoilers cannot lift the hammer and are therefore clearly not Worthy!

Let’s get the stuff I didn’t like out of the way first.

I am, like a few other folks I’ve seen commenting, disgruntled about Natasha’s remark to Banner about “still think you’re the only monster on the team?” I really don’t like the implication of “submitting to sterilization so as to be a more effective assassin” == “monster”.

For one thing, how old was Nat when this happened? I got a vibe of her being a teenager for this flashback–and yeah, like a teenager who’s probably desperate to impress her authority figures, probably seeing this path as the only one she’s got to guarantee her survival, not exactly being in a position to refuse to be sterilized. I can’t exactly fault her for making the choice.

For another, I have to scowl at this whole idea that of all the shit Nat’s done in her backstory, all the people she’s killed, etc., etc., it’s “submitting to sterilization” that makes her a monster in her own eyes? “I’ve killed people all over the world,” she doesn’t bat an eye. “OHNOEZ I CAN’T HAVE BABIES,” she thinks she’s a monster?

Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are a lot of women who actually would feel that way in her shoes. I can’t exactly fault her for it. Hell, I can’t have babies either and have only just realized in the last few days that the fact that my cancer experiences have deprived me of my fertility makes me uncomfortable enough that I can’t really deal with being at somebody else’s baby shower. So I can actually see how Natasha would get there in her opinion of herself.

But I’m cranky about it regardless. I’m cranky that we still live in a society that puts so much worth on the ability to bear a child that women who can’t get shit for it–and will often give that shit to themselves. I’m cranky that a woman’s worth is equated with her ability to breed in the majority of the stories we tell, and that this has even now shown up in Black Widow’s characterization. She’s been such an awesome character in the MCU so far, and it irritates me that she’s now joined the ranks of female characters who at the end of the day REALLY just want to have babies and AUGH NO.

So just so I’m clear–I’m not cranky at Natasha as a character; I’m cranky at the writers of this story. And I’m cranky at the bigger societal pressures that keep influencing our creative people to put this trope into the stories they create. Can we just stop that already? NOT EVERY WOMAN CAN HAVE BABIES SO STOP LAYING GUILT TRIPS ON WOMEN WHO CAN’T. Grrr. </rant>

Okay, now that that’s out of the way:

I’m also cranky at Jeremy Renner for his recent stupid comments he’s been making about Black Widow, for that matter–and this interfered with my ability to appreciate what this movie did with Hawkeye as a character, too. Which is unfortunate, because if Renner hadn’t been shooting off his mouth lately, I’d have enjoyed Hawkeye’s portion of the character development a lot more. I liked the whole “oh hey he’s got a SEKRIT WIFE AND KIDS SURPRISE!” thing, and I liked the snark he was throwing around in response to Quicksilver, and I liked his whole little speech to Scarlet Witch about how “none of this makes any sense” and how they’re fighting an army of mad robots and all HE has is a bow and arrows.

But. Sorry, Hawkeye, your character is still awesome, but your actor turning out to be a jerk is impacting my ability to care.

(I’d be cranky at Chris Evans, too, except that Evans apologized, and unlike Renner, his apology actually came across as sincere. And Evans has a better history of being awesome, so. I’ll be keeping an eye on both of these boys as we move on to the next round of movies, though.)

What else… overall I do feel like the movie was trying to cram a LOT into its allocated time, which resulted in a lot of things feeling too rushed. Tony’s tight turnaround time of “zero to MAD ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE RAMPAGING ALL OVER THE WORLD”, for example. It’ll be interesting to see what the deleted scenes look like when this is finally released to Blu-Ray and DVD.

And oh yeah, I could have done without the repetition of the whole “slow motion pause everybody so we can get the wide panorama still shot of everybody in action” thing. It happened twice by my count, and it was a little cheesy both times. Played for me like “OBLIGATORY MOVIE POSTER SHOT aaaaaand CLICK”.

And now then, now that that’s all out of my system, let’s talk about the stuff I did actually like!

Back to Black Widow. I’ve seen some commentary expressing “buh huh WHUT?” at the Widow/Hulk romance coming out of nowhere. I kind of feel the same way, but whatevs, I was willing to roll with it. For one thing, since the MCU does seem to be keeping to more or less “real time”, this puts the Battle of New York at three years ago at this point. There’s been time for Nat to ramp up interest in Bruce. And I have to agree with her line to Bruce: he IS an adorable dork, and yes, chicks dig that. 😉

The opening sequence with the raid on the Hydra base, to get the twins on camera, was cool. And I only just realized, coming out of the movie last night, that the guy playing the main Hydra bad guy there was the same actor who played the boat captain in Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake–i.e., Thomas Kretschmann, a German actor.

The entire scene with the team taking turns trying to lift the hammer was HYSTERICAL. And I particularly loved Thor’s “wait WUT” blink when Cap actually budged the hammer a little. 😀

HURRAY for actually taking the time to mention Pepper AND Jane, even though neither character actually appeared on camera. Tony and Thor in their snarkoff about “my girlfriend is better” was fun. 😀

HURRAY for getting to see both War Machine AND Falcon contributing to the story. Rhodey trying to work his whole tank story multiple times was fun too. 😀 And it pleases me that both of these gents will be considered active Avengers moving forward. Yes plz more diversity on the team!

Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch–yeah, they were cool. I very much liked both characters, and their initial VERY LEGIT beef against Tony, because yeah, I’d be cranky at him too if weapons his company had developed were responsible for killing my parents and destroying my house. But I also very much liked that as soon as Scarlet was able to read Ultron’s plans, they did a hard 180 to “THIS IS FUCKED UP” and threw in with the Avengers. In particular, I liked Scarlet’s choreography for how she threw her fire around, and she was legitimately intimidating with how many visions she was able to throw into the Avengers’ heads. Those twins delivered a legitimate punch to the team, and I appreciated that this was not downplayed. But at the same time, I also appreciated that when push came to shove, the team was willing to let the twins fight with them because they needed all the help they could get.

And I particularly liked how Scarlet was able to counteract the effects of the scepter on Doctor Cho. And that Cho was ready to try to throw a wrench into Ultron’s plans once she realized what was going on, even though she got shot down from that pretty quickly.

Vision–very, VERY cool to see Paul Bettany actually get to contribute to the action in actual physical form. And the callback to the earlier discussion of the hammer as shorthand for “yes, we can actually trust this guy” worked VERY well. Thor’s all “he can lift the hammer, he can keep the Stone”. NICE.

Appreciated that Wakanda is now officially mentioned on camera as the source for vibranium, and that some snark was delivered to how Howard Stark had a hold of some of this stuff and only wound up making a Frisbee. ;D Also, I appreciated Andy Serkis’ appearance as the arms dealer, even though I only realized after the fact who he was. It was weird to actually see Serkis’ face for once!

And, Ultron. VERY nice. I loved his snark. “I’m physically incapable of throwing up in my mouth,” hee hee hee. Also, that one last exasperated “OH FOR” yell he threw off when the Hulk charged into his plane, at the end.

Let me also emphasize my appreciation that the Avengers made a huge, huge point of trying to get civilians to safety, all throughout the movie. It did not escape my attention at the beginning either that Tony’s Iron Legion, trying to get civilians out of the line of fire, was not exactly well-received, either. But I VERY much appreciated Fury and Hill showing up with the helicarrier. It did my heart good. And I loved Cap and Quicksilver’s exchange: “This is SHIELD?” “This is what SHIELD’s SUPPOSED to be.” “This is not so bad!”

Because yes. Looking out for the civilians is what superheroes are SUPPOSED to be doing.

And, “the elevator is not worthy!” Hee hee hee hee.

Yeah. All in all… I did enjoy the movie, despite the bits that made me cranky. I’ve seen folks commenting elsewhere, such as this review on the Smart Bitches site, that there’s very much a feel of “rushed middle movie” here, and too much emphasis on setup for Infinity War and Thor 3. I agree with that. But I enjoyed the movie nonetheless!

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  • Reply Yngvar May 10, 2015 at 11:11 am

    It’s funny how, when I was a kid, movies tended to take many months, years even, to get from the US to Norway, and now you’ve only just had the American premiere of a movie that I saw two and a half weeks ago.

    Anyway, I don’t have much to say except being generally entertained for the duration of the movie. I’m thinking about maybe watching it again after Agents of SHIELD on Norwegian TV has caught up to the episodes that tie in with the movie. However, given the running joke in the movie, it was hard not to laugh at work the following day when a snafu made a co-worker utter a long string of foul words. 🙂

    Patriotism mandates that I acknowledge that this is the third time that Norway gets a mention in a Marvel movie. The first one, in Thor, was set a thousand years ago. The second, in Captain America, was from WWII. But now we get something that supposedly was from contemporary Oslo. Which in the Marvel Cinematic Universe apparently holds a global Internet hub? Interesting. 🙂 Alas, there was still nothing that was recognizably from Norway. Was there really no way to get an establishing shot of Oslo before the interior scenes with all the servers?

    • Reply Angela Korra'ti May 10, 2015 at 11:28 am

      Oh god yes I totally forgot to comment on loving the running joke about giving Cap shit for “language!” ;D Yes, that was delightful.

      Norway pride represent!

      But yeah–it’s pretty amazing how fast movies can zoom around the world these days. And I’ve been noting how a bunch of the big movies are airing overseas before they air in the US! I don’t know the reasoning behind that, and it’s intriguing to see it happening. I’m glad you got to see it, regardless!

  • Reply More on Black Widow in Avengers 2: Age of Ultron | May 11, 2015 at 10:20 am

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