Thursday, April 30, 2015

Avengers: Rohan's Age of Indifference

(Our friend Rohan Morbey got to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron in advance of its US opening, and yet does not seem to have relished the experience. His original review, which appears in edited form here, can be found as always over at Rohan's site Closing Credits - do follow him on Twitter!

I looked back at my review of The Avengers from 2012 and the opening paragraph struck me as one which I’d never consider writing now:

“Firstly, I love films based on comic book characters and I enjoy many summer blockbusters, so I cannot complain that I wasn’t part of The Avengers’ target audience. Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, X-2, X-Men: First Class, Superman Returns (yes, that’s right) and the greatest superhero film of them all, Superman: The Movie, all range from very enjoyable to truly outstanding in my opinion. It’s interesting to note that all but one of these were released before 2008 when Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were made and paved the road to The Avengers.”

Whereas this still holds true for me, the fact is this new entry into the never-ending production pipeline of Marvel films arrives in a week where trailers for several other franchises have dropped, the seventh film in an pitiful series of films just crossed the billion dollar mark at the global box-office, and fatigue has set in for me as far as all of this ‘world building’ is concerned. I’ll be honest and say it set in many years ago. It makes no difference if I liked comic-book films pre-Iron Man much more than majority of those released now. No one forces me to watch these movies; I watch them because I want to like them. I really do. I’d have to be a masochist to spend time and money watching films which I want to dislike.

My opinion on The Avengers: Age Of Ultron is of course in no way linked to what other films may be coming out in the future, but this feeling of utter boredom from start to end (and at 141 minutes this film drags for anyone not fully invested) is indubitably linked to all which has come before it. Three Iron Man films, two Thor, two new Spider-Man stories, two Wolverine spin-offs, four Transformers, three from The Hobbit, the last four Fast and Furious, thankfully only the one Man Of Steel so far, and now two fully blown stories from The Avengers – what’s the difference aside from the character names and the digitally created backgrounds which the actors stand in front of? What of the basic goals: having something at stake, showing audiences new and unique set pieces, a plot which keeps us guessing, and above all else a directorial vision of excitement and adventure to stand up and say ‘THIS film is something you’ve never seen before!’ In 2012 at least Joss Whedon could say audiences have never seen all these characters together on screen at the same time, but his new film can’t even make that claim.

Considering this is coming off of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the most recent film featuring an Avenger, Joss Whedon has taken a giant step back. The Winter Soldier was such a pleasant surprise with the handling of its many action sequences that it ended up being in my top 35 films of 2014 – from a total of 134 titles. Everything that film did so right with its action scenes, especially in the first two thirds, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron seems to purposefully go in the opposite direction.

If seeing [insert any character name here from comic books or 1980s toy lines] is enough to make one care about the mayhem unleashed on the screen, regardless of the coherence or tension it may or may not create, then great for that person. And that’s not meant to come across as anything but genuine; if I don’t enjoy a film then I hope at least others can. But it looks and feels the same as most other mega budget films from the past seven years which on its own is disappointing enough. But it further baffles me how audiences can give a pass to 45 minutes of action which is never once feels like it’s happening in the world in which it’s set, or looks not much different from a film which opened last year, last month, or even last week.

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