Monthly Archives: May 2015

Review: Avengers – Age of Ultron


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The most awaited sequel to mega blockbuster of 2012, Age of Ultron hit the theaters last week in theaters worldwide. Creating a sequel to a blockbuster as beloved and successful as The Avengers is something big for anyone to live upto. One of the reasons the film became such a massive hit because of the novelty of seeing these characters on screen for the first time ever on the big screen; something that was long thought to be impossible. After massive success of the first movie, the sequel would have to shake things up. Age of Ultron feels like writer/director Joss Whedon is constantly trying to outdo himself. For the most part, he is succeeds. The film is more ambitious, emotional, funnier, and darker than its predecessor. However, it’s also less coherent and streamlined. In an attempt to juggle so many characters and subplots, the film loses that magic of simplicity that made the first film so appealing.  Despite those misgivings, the film manages to still be a fun and engaging superhero epic that serves to kick off the summer movie season and serves as a proper farewell to Whedon from Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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For me Age of Ultron is a massive success but it fails to pull off everything with the grace and synergy. The movie is on a different scale unlike Avengers was. The movie is a massive balancing act, pulling in about a dozen important characters and trying to give them all something to do while also telling a cohesive, succinct narrative. The movie is a juggling act that Joss Whedon tries to maintain fairly well. While I was fairly satisfied while walking out of the theater the feeling was not as great as the first movie and there is where the problem is.

Most of the reviews are made comparing it with the first movie when they should not. Most of the reviews have complained about new characters, if there was a sequel without new characters there would still be complains. The movie outdoes the expectations that fans had after the announcement.

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Age of Ultron proves to be a massive entertainer from the beginning. It opens with an exciting, and an entertaining action sequence that reintroduces all of the characters and the dynamic they share as a team. The opening is right on point in nearly all aspects, and creates a sense of high energy and pacing that is never really lost. While there are slower moments in the movie (such as a mid-movie sequence at the Barton farm) the sense of energy is never halted because there’s always something happening that propels the story forward. Unlike with the opening act of the first Avengers film, which tended to lull in some segments as the team was pulled together, Age of Ultron quickly establishes an excellent sense of narrative pacing, and this is arguably one of the film’s greatest strengths.

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The movie shows a great pacing apart from action sequences. Joss Whedon and his team does their best to manage their time amongst the numerous threads that the plot weaves along with the way characters connect with each other. As a writer, Whedon manages to find a great way of doing this, incorporating minor details from previous Phase Two films to show that, yes, they were relevant, while also keeping the focus where it needs to be: the matters at hand, how the team operates, and how the characters evolve because of the ordeals they undergo.

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If The Avengers was about assembly, Avengers: Age of Ultron is about disassembly. The former played on their conflicting personalities while the latter plays on their fears and insecurities. Though Ultron may be the main antagonist of the picture, it’s our heroes who have themselves to fear. How can these people save the world when they can’t even save themselves? The internal struggle of these characters is trying to overcome their mistakes and pain. That is what raises the stakes in this film. The entire world is jeopardy, but it’s also a battle for the Avengers to save their souls.

The film is loaded with terrific action sequences. The Hulk vs Hulkbuster scene is everything you hoped it would be and more. Though there is a lot to take in from the set pieces, they never feel exhausting or overwhelming, despite it being clear Whedon is always trying to top what he accomplish in the first film. Though admittedly, it’s hard to feel sense of danger when you know these characters are going to be back for their individual movies including more Avengers sequels. As usual, each character gets their shining moment. The principal cast has grown into these roles to the point where they could pull them off in their sleep. A most notable improvement is Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who after being relegated to Loki’s henchman for most of the first film, gets an integral and dynamic role among the team. Not to mention that he gets some of the best lines in the film. I wouldn’t be surprised if he emerged as fan-favorite after all is said and done.

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New additions to the cast vary. Thankfully, Ultron works for the most part and is miles ahead of just about all of the villains in Marvel films so far (which isn’t that hard when you look at how these villains were written). He’s surprisingly more snarky than people would expect an angry, maniacal robot to be. But that imbues the character with a personality that is sorely lacking from the rogue gallery in MCU. Joss Whedon admitted that the initial cut of the film was much longer. It comes out clear at many places as origin story for Quicksilver and Wanda comes out in a very rushed manner. Their origin is touched upon but in a very rushed manner. The Maximoff twins begin to work as characters as the film progresses, but there were missed opportunities to get audiences behind them early on. The breakout character of the film is hands down the Vision (Paul Bettany). While I won’t spoil his origin here, the film will leave you wanting to see more of especially since he does a fantastic job of making an impact in his first appearance.

The movie works and proves that Marvel Cinematic Universe is not going anywhere. Age of Ultron succeeds in teasing future movies with its supporting cast. The movie is entertaining but at the same time worries me about execution of future Marvel movies. It sets up Civil War, Wakanda and most importantly Infinity War and suffers with the same problem that Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man 2 suffered but on a very small scale. The summer has started with a bang and Marvel is going to rule.

Rating 8.5/10

Trailer Analysis: Batman V Superman


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A few weeks ago, after a low quality teaser of Batman v Superman leaked on the internet, Zack Snyder officially released a trailer for the film. The first footage with a number of bits and pieces arranged together drops a few hints about how the movie is going to be.

The music has a very electronic vibe yet is very percussive that actually fits the tone of the movie. The scene cuts to a Superman statue in middle of Metropolis with some commentary in background. It sounds more like an interview, but who are they interviewing?

Metropolis in background look very much different than the one Superman destroyed in Man of Steel. The conversation in background highlights a voice asking “Is it really surprising that the most powerful man in the world should be a figure of controversy?”

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There is another voice in the interview roundup that sounds like Neil deGrasse Tyson with an awkward emphasis on the word Alien. It seems that Superman’s appearance on Earth’s culture has become a hot topic and to some extent a matter of concern. This shot cuts to Superman surrounded by people with a group with emo makeup who sound like members of some kind of Superman fanclub. Superman looks sad, tired and heartbroken as usual. For a hero who is called hope and savior for humankind he has been constantly portrayed as a sad and destructive force of nature. But that is not my main concern about the movie.

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The scene cuts to Superman’s iconic pose lifting a Russian craft crashing on Earth, that kind of reminds me of the cover page of Superman #1 . The arguments in background grow stronger with a female voice yelling “they are not telling us the truth.” Followed by a man shouting “this is our planet”.

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The trailer clearly shows a pattern, there is a conflict of opinions. People of Earth are insecure about Superman’s presence. Bits of this sequence sound like Kingdom Come’s prologue.

While the conversation grows stronger, the focus towards Superman’s statue keeps increasing along with words like ‘Power’ Chaos’ and ‘tragedy’ continue to appear in a pattern.

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The scene quickly cuts to a sequence where a group of policemen bow in front of Superman. This is an obvious callback from Man of Steel where Superman was shown in handcuffs. Also those helmets look like those of German soldiers in WW2, kind of weird isn’t it?

This entire trailer is submerged in complicated symbols like first Man of Steel trailer which is kind of ironic because the first movie turned out to be a destruction porn on such a great level that it makes me afraid about new symbols. I can only deduce that Zak Snyder is still obsessed with Watchmen days, he should understand that symbols only work in a specific zone of comic book movies and not everywhere.

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I have read at a few places that voices continue to change speaker modes, while a few voices come from left speaker other like Jesse Eisenberg come from the right one. More symbolism I must say. Another scene cuts to Superman’s statue and then the line ‘devils don’t come from hell beneath us.’ That is followed by ‘They come from Sky’ showing Superman in a very godlike pose.

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Final cut at the statue along with chants saying ‘go home,’ along with a final now in light statue that has been vandalized as false god.

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The scene now cuts to Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Jeremy Irons who plays Alfred in this movie speaking in the background. He talks about starting something but what exactly remains a mystery for now. There are talks about rage and powerlessness while the shot cuts to Batman’s suit. It seems it hasn’t been used for a while.

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We now see Batman standing in a building with random words written all over the place, while some say it is a clue to Wonder Woman others can’t help noticing Riddler’s question mark at a corner. The lights start flickering in Snyder’s trademark style and we get to see the Batwing. The score now gets intense with explosions and Batman taking out bad guys. The scene cut to the new Batmobile and then finally Batman. I love his chin, very Batman like straight from the comics, he is huge and is very pissed of.

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Over to a shot where Batman is holding a rifle, reminder that Frank Miller gave Batman a rifile in his Dark Knight run I am sure that Snyder taking a lot of material from here.

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Finally we get to see World’s finest facing off each other. An armored clad Batman stares Superman in the sky. Another bunch of symbols, while Batman stares in dark Superman floats in light.

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Batman sounds not in mood of giving any shit to the man hovering on top of him. He growls ‘“Tell me, do you bleed?” the intensity of this scene is no close to any other. Here is a man without any superpowers standing to confront a man who is considered as a god by most of the people in the world. Superman finally comes on the ground while the screen fades to dark.

There is no clue of Wonder Woman or Aquaman. It is safe to consider that both these characters will have glorified cameos before making full appearance in Justice League. May be we will meet the new characters in a new trailer.

This trailer doesn’t drop many hints about the movie but DC is back to its dark tone. We don’t know the timeline of the story and leaves us with a lot of questions. The movie won’t come out next year in March when we get our answers and see how DC Cinematic Universe is actually shaping.

Review: Marvel’s Daredevil


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When Daredevil was announced on Netflix it was said that it will take Marvel Cinematic Universe in a new direction. Slowly it became one of the most anticipated shows of 2015. The series is part of a deal between Marvel and Netflix that will proceed with 3 such shows like these and finally lead to Defenders series.

Daredevil takes place in a universe where an alien attack destroys New York and a group of superheroes team up to protect the world. New York is burning in chaos while Avengers are busy saving the world. In middle of chaos and destruction a man takes burden to clean his neighborhood.

Marvel’s Daredevil is unlike anything Marvel has ever done before. Also it’s nothing like any of the comic-book series that we usually watch on TV. While comparisons with Arrow are inevitable still Daredevil stands tell with more creative freedom enjoyed by the Marvel team. The violent story of a vigilante and his grim oppressive world is brilliantly explained.

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Daredevil is a character made for TV and the credit goes to Steven S. DeKnight who took over the series from Drew Goddard. The show leaves nothing behind when it comes to make it grounded in the source material. Gone is the red leather suit, unrealistic fight scenes on seesaws, and campy villains. In short: This is nothing like the Daredevil movie – which is a good thing.

The characters of the show are brilliant. The casting is wisely done. Charlie Cox as both Matt Murdock and the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen is an amazing find. He handles his role brilliantly. Applying his enhanced sense to sense a beautiful girl as Matt Murdock and fight crime as Daredevil adds a distinct style to his character.

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Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Wilson Fisk, the head Mafioso who runs the majority of the Hell’s Kitchen crime scene, is worthy of the highest praise. He stands tall as a sympathetic villain for whom audience will root for at times and even want him to win. He is exact opposite to Matt Murdock in terms of their versions of wanting to make Hell’s kitchen a better place. Where Daredevil sticks to idealist moralities in the pursuit of justice, its Fisk’s extreme ideas make his story all the more tragic. While he is never mentioned by character’s villain alias “Kingpin,” still his name drops as an Easter Egg for fans. When a reporter is putting together his pyramid of Mafioso’s and crime bosses by putting up playing cards on a tack board, there’s the guy at the top: the King (of Diamonds) pinned to the board.

While Daredevil is a result of greater actions taken in Marvel Cinematic universe yet the connections made on the show are far in between. Most of the cameos and Easter eggs in the series are taken from Daredevil comics, or other upcoming shows on Netflix.

I was surprised at the language that was no-where close to what one can imagine on a R Rated show. Still it stands large on the use of violence. Compared to MCU, Daredevil’s world is way grittier. Bones break and blood is spilt. Either way, Daredevil is Marvel’s greatest superhero show and if you haven’t watched it yet then a marathon awaits you.