Let me start with a disclaimer. I was raised on Marvel comics to an extent. They were a little hard to come by when I was a child (in England) so I didn’t always have a steady supply, but I loved them when I got them. I will also state that I really enjoyed the humor, action and fun of the first two “Iron Man” movies with Robert Downey Jr. So I’m a “fan” – not a “fan-boy” – but definitely someone that these types of movies should appeal to.
However, I wasn’t too impressed by the previous “Avengers”movie and found both the Captain America and Thor standalones abysmally dull and ridiculous. Unfortunately, the latest addition “Ultron” very quickly reaches new lows in preposterously boring superhero movies (PBSM™).
The movie starts with the Avengers attacking a Hydra base and the problems start right at the same point. The audience is treated to a twenty odd minute sequence where one set of computer graphics “fights” with another bunch of computer graphics. It’s like watching a computer game – instead of playing it. At least if you were playing you might feel some sense of involvement and investment in the action, but here the experience is entirely passive, with no time wasted on what’s happening, why it’s happening or why we should care.
The Avengers win – of course – and we then have a brief piece of twaddle where Stark and Banner “discuss” things. “mumble mumble artificial intelligence”. “Mumble mumble artificial intelligence mumble mumble…” etc.
Somehow Hydra got their hands on Loki’s staff, which rather than being a weapon apparently contains an AI (yes, I know that doesn’t make ANY sense whatsoever… don’t blame me…). Questions like how or why etc. don’t even come up. No! That might actually make some sense.
This “intelligence” then manages to make itself a body, using Stark’s suit technology and comes “alive”. All this takes place while the Avengers are kicking back sipping Ice Teas and Strawberry milkshakes at a party (it’s Disney after all…). Yep, the greatest force for protecting the world from bad guys just suddenly decides to put its feet up for a while…
Cue more computer graphics fighting with some other computer graphics at the end of which the evil A.I. escapes into the world to become a cyber being. (“Cyber” is so much more threatening than “internet.”) The goal of the A.I. is nothing short of destruction of the entire world. Gasp! Shock!
How entirely original… I think there must be some kind of school for Artificial Intelligences out there with a program that goes something like:
- Find evil looking robot/suit/clone body.
- Destroy a few things for the hell of it
- Review humanity’s history.
- Decide humanity must be destroyed.
- Destroy some more things for the hell of it.
I mean, Thor is a god, right? He could just wave his big hammer (steady on now!) and magic the A.I. back into DOS 4.0, couldn’t he? Or Tony Stark, tech genius, surely he could figure out a way of just rebooting the homicidal A.I? After all it’s using his technology.
Cue more battles. More computer graphics. Each one bigger and “better,” Throw in an odd snarky comment now and then (mostly obsessed with Captain America’s dislike of “bad” words) In fact that’s the pattern here-
- Computer graphics “fight” each other.
- Superhero says something snarky.
- Rinse and repeat.
In the end everyone is saved by “JARVIS.” Stark’s pet A.I. who they inserted into another superbody. (Hmmm we stuck an AI in a super body and now it’s trying to destroy the world… I know! Let’s do it again!). JARVIS A.I. is amazing, very calm and collected. You know, speaks with that reassuring British accent and everything but now he’s like a super hero, complete with cape to prove he’s a superhero. I mean seriously, why the hell does this A.I. need a cape? Oh of course, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to tell the computer graphics apart in the fight scenes…
Something else to think about. Why are they constantly loading up the casts with more and more actors? I’ve read several times that this is because the producers don’t think there are actors that can “carry” a film on their own. This is nonsense. The real reason for this is simple, it means more people will go to see the movie. So you don’t like Robert Downey? No worries because Chris Hemsworth is there. Don’t like Pepper? Hey Black Widow is there…
The problem with this approach is that what little efforts there are to produce emotionally fulfilling characters are diluted among all the cast. You never get to connect with them because they’re thrown in scatter-gun. It’s like throwing shit against the wall and just hoping some of it sticks.
In “Ultron”, the Black Widow decides that she’s in love with Bruce Banner. The trouble is you;re never shown why. The romance is just thrown in at a few points when they need a break from the computer graphics fighting each other (wow, those pixels must get tired out after all that…). When the Hulk flies off into the sunset at the end, leaving Widow… well, errr a widow… you simply “don’t give a damn” (I’m copyrighting that one by the way…). And yes, I DID say that the Hulk flies off in a plane.. as in he flies the plane…even though he’s four times the size of a regular human being (except apparently when he sits in Tony’s pilot seat…) and a brainless rage machine than can’t even speak. Speak, no. Fly supersonic jet, yes?
The movie producers have unfortunately lost the plot. I don;t mean that euphemistically, I mean literally. There is no plot. This isn’t something confined to “Ultron”, it seems to be a global problem. For a story to be interesting you need character, emotion, connection, a somewhat plausibly connected series of events. The problem is NOT the actors, it’s not the computer graphics, it’s how you use these things. Creating a bigger explosion and a bigger battle scene doesn’t achieve anything if you simply don’t care because the characters are cardboard and the plot has more holes in it than a lump of stinky cheese (can’t think why that might come to mind…)
I’m sure that the movie will break all box office records, I’m sure everyone will be wowed by all the smoke and mirrors. For a while… but I think it’s about time Hollywood producers looked at what some of the indies are doing. They’re making good movies, with good stories often beating the crap out of the mainstream and doing it on a fraction of the budget of even a “small” mainstream movie.
Unfortunately this Avengers movie, all 141 minutes of it, should be subtitled “The Age Of Boredom”.