I really didn’t like Avengers 2 – it was pointless in the grander scheme of the story, and uninteresting as a movie by itself. As a movie, it was entertaining and worth a watch – especially the early scenes, but afterwards its shortcomings just made me angry.
Soft spoilers below.
While I like many of Whedon’s works, his flaws were on display here. Ultron was an unthreatening villain styled like a comical cartoon character. Now I like James Spader, but the kind of demented personality he gives Ultron doesn’t make sense within the movie, and undercuts his gravitas. The villains and potential villains end up just adding to the already overcrowded pantheon, and the countless Ultron robots are basically cannon-fodder for CGI beatdowns.
Whedon attempts to develop the characters, but is hamfisted about it (Black Widow apparently flirts with a different character in each movie!) and the character interactions were pretty weak.
Guardians of the Galaxy received high praise when it was released, and I agree that its humour, light touch, music, visual design, and sense of fun were very enjoyable. However I found many of the characters rather underdeveloped and the storyline relatively straightforward. Perhaps what I want is just more movies in this colorful setting.
This reboot-by-stealth X-Men goes from strength-to-strength: First Class was an excellent movie that put the characters’ personalities at the fore, Days of Future Past lives up to it.
The storyline is a bit more convoluted than necessary, but the crux is about averting the assassination of a weapons designer (who hunts and experiments on mutants) by a mutant. The weapons designer’s death leads to the widespread deployment of the infamous Sentinels, who are responsible for some brutal fight scenes.
The actors are all fantastic, though I wish Peter Dinklage had a larger role. The storyline is clever, the writing is funny, and the action-scenes interesting and well-directed – Quicksilver’s kitchen scene is a standout, plus the ways Blink uses her portal-creation power are all very creative. However I was confused by the early scenes of the Sentinels adapting to combat their opponents’ powers, as this wasn’t totally clear.
Captain America 2 was a decent movie, but not one that sticks in the mind. It has good material: topical issues about pervasive surveillance and preemptive strikes, and Captain America’s retro-style idealism in a corrupt modern era, but didn’t push these themes so well.
The action was good, particularly when the Winter Soldier was involved, as someone who could keep up with the Captain. Johansson was much better than in the Avengers. I didn’t like the Nick Fury part of the plot, it was predictable.
Incidentally, the TV series Agents of Shield tied in to the movie’s release with some spoileriffic plot twists, but on the other hand it did get me to watch the movie.
Thor 2 is an entertaining movie; it felt more developed than the first one, but for the villains, whose only role was to show up and fight a few times. There is lots of humour, especially from Darcy and Erik, and as legions of screaming fangirls have demanded, Loki has an extremely prominent role (he even shows up before Thor). I found the story a bit overwrought for what it actually delivered; it’s a jovial romp that will be enjoyed but won’t linger in memory.
Hugh Jackman is a great actor and a great guy who is still grateful to his breakout role in the original X-Men movie, the film that proved the viability of superhero movies and opened the door to the slew of comic book adaptations today. At the time I remember reading how fans were nervous how their favourite character would be treated and whether anyone could inhabit the larger-than-life role; it turned out that Jackman’s Wolverine was the standout performance and he became synonymous with the character. Thirteen years later, Jackman is still playing Logan, and “The Wolverine” is his latest solo venture.
While “Origins” was a pulpy action movie, “The Wolverine” attempts to avoid its predecessor’s mistakes: it’s a self-contained film that dials down on the mutant powers and pyrotechnics, with a strong sense of place (filmed on-location in Japan, with many elements of Japanese culture), and a focus on the main character. The first half is very successful but the second half falls apart into a forced storyline and unengaging action scenes. Major spoilers follow.
I’ve always hated crossovers, and the headlong rush of movies towards the Avengers movie had me extremely nervous. Years back, people were referring to it as an “impending on-screen abortion” and so on, with the cynical certainty of the commentariat. Fortunately The Avengers is far from a disaster, may turn Joss Whedon into a big-time mainstream director, and indeed has achieved a very high rating, though personally I’m a little dissatisfied.
First the good: the personalities of most of the characters are well-depicted and actually matter; they don’t fight for screentime, crowd each other out, or revert to repetitive distillations. One of the best scenes is an argument among the team when you see their different attitudes and agendas come to the fore, and indeed conflict among the Avengers allows the movie to work. There was a good dose of humour (Stark in particular), though Nick Fury, Hawkeye and Black Widow remain fairly shallow. I wanted to like Scarlett Johansson, but her character was too impassive – a Whedon weakness.
The main disappointment of the film is a lack of threat or menace. It’s a fun film, Loki (who apparently has a huge fangirl following) sneers and disparages the good guys, and there are spectacular fight. However a scene between Loki and the Hulk sums it up: Whedon plays it for laughs rather than weight or drama. The enemies are extras rather than opposition, and the I’m-a-bad-guy posing is heavy-handed.
I enjoyed the movie, but it’s squarely entertainment.