Sunday, May 10, 2015

Avengers: Age of Excess

I was excited to see the new Avengers movie yesterday. I went to see it alone. I was quickly disappointed. It was choppy, uneven and difficult to follow at times. Having grown up reading Marvel comics, I await the newest installments from the Marvel Cinematic Universe with too much glee for a 50 year old man to admit. The technology did not exist to set these books to film when I was a kid, so I welcome the excess usually ... provided that the excess is well done and worth the money I spent to see it.  I can't say that Avengers: The Age of Ultron was worth it .. the wait or the money.

The Avengers were never my favorite comic. I read it and enjoyed it, but I was more into the more angst ridden heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil and the X-men. The more cavalier Captain America and Iron Man were too perfect for me to wrap my little head around. A war hero loved by all and an obnoxious millionaire with high tech toys didn't really resonate with this post-hippy working class teenager. The Hulk was the only member of the Avengers that had any appeal to me, but he had his own book so The Avengers book took a back seat. But when Marvel came out with the first Avengers film a few years ago, they pulled me in again. It was one of the best comic book movies ever made. Most of them are stinkers, but when a good one comes along, I have to really embrace it. Among the better ones I would put Spider-Man 2, The Watchmen, Guardians of the Galaxy and Batman Begins. The Avengers joined that list. The follow-up to it, did not. Expectations were high and they fell miserably.

Most of the members of The Avengers already have their own film franchises (Captain America, Ironman, the Hulk) so no time is wasted on their back stories in this film.  The remaining two, Black Widow and Hawkeye don't, so screen time had to be wasted on character development. This isn't usually a problem if it is done well, but it isn't in this film. Hawkeye's back story, well, who cares? He is not a very interesting character. An archer just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense in this group. It didn't seem to make a lot of sense when I read the book as a kid. I wouldn't have been upset if they killed him off. Black Widow is a different story. She has an interesting back story and has always been an interesting character. She is the only woman in the group, so of course, her back story had to be a romance (of course not) ... with David Banner, a guy who can't get excited or he might hurt somebody. It was a bit too much like Twilight for me and just seem to be stuck in the film. It went no where. The one joy of the film is the introduction of The Vision, always one of the more elusive and mysterious characters. He was so well done in the film. His presence almost saved the film for me.

I haven't even gotten to the biggest problem with the film. It was just really hard to follow. For one, I couldn't tell what was going on in some of the action sequences. I had no sense of who was where in some of the scenes and who was fighting whom. They were so choppy that the moment I thought I understood what was happening it would cut to another shot or another scene altogether. This type of choppiness continued throughout the film, not just the action scenes, making the narrative difficult to follow.

As far as plot goes, I don't ever expect profundity or anything to challenge any of my ideals. I simply expect good fun and a few hours of pure entertainment in comic book films.  But I can't say I am entirely sure what our villain, Ultron's, evil plan was or what his motivations were. He was trying to destroy the human race so we could evolve into something new. What? When he couldn't get the nuclear codes, he decided to take some East European country, make it fly and turn it into a meteor to destroy us like the dinosaurs?  Uhm, what?  Am I right about this!  Did I get that right?  I am still unsure. Lets hope the next Avengers film is better and less of a muddle.  Hopefully, we'll get less excess and more clarity as to what the heck is going on.

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