Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

So we finally got out to see Avengers: Age of Ultron. It seemed a very appropriate movie for Memorial Day. Although this movie has been out since May 1, and even though you've had every chance to see it before we did, we still feel the need to post a little warning: Our review is filled with SPOILERS. If you're OK with that, you can read more after the break.

Dangrdafne: I will start by saying I have no background in any of the comics, these characters, or the stories they are based upon. I have watched The Incredible Hulk TV show from the 70s, and I have seen the previous Marvel movies leading into Avengers: Age of Ultron. But I do not know the comic book history at all. With that said I loved this movie. All it was missing for me was Agent Phil Coulson!

I am amazed that I was not spoiled, too. I had no idea that Fury would be in it, or that War Machine and Falcon would show up. I loved learning more about Black Widow and Hawkeye (I didn't know he had a family!). I loved watching all this funny interactions between all the characters. Everyone picking on Cap for "Language" was the best. And I definitely don't know anything about all the hullabaloo on the web complaining about Black Widow in this film; I saw nothing in the movie that made me question anything about her or how her character was written or even shown in this movie.

The only drawback I would say was I felt that the Hulk vs. Iron Man fight was a bit too long. And hilariously I had no idea that this was a long awaited piece of this movie. Brainwise had to re-inform me of HulkBuster… which I thought was something the Hulk would have/wear. Apparently it is the Iron Man suit that Tony Stark uses to fight Hulk. Ooooops.

I liked the new characters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. When Scarlet Witch chose to come out of the house and become an Avenger, I almost cheered out loud and I definitely teared up. I was so proud of her and her choice. I am grateful that these two new characters understood the cost of human life was not worth standing with Ultron. I also loved how The Vision understood this too.

My other emotional point was when Quicksilver died. It was completely unexpected and it was to save Hawkeye and a human child. It broke my heart when he said "I didn't see that coming." *sniff sniff*

I am excited to see where we go next.

I give Avengers: Age of Ultron 5 paws!

Brainwise: As has been pointed out before, I'm the comic book aficionado in our home. Now, having said that, I must also point out that I read more Marvel in the 70s than I have of late (though a few more Marvel titles have joined my weekly pulls, and Marvel Unlimited can be your friend if you want to blow through a bunch of back issues). Still, I was excited to see the Avengers translated to celluloid once again. And, for the most part, Avengers: Age of Ultron was a fine piece of popcorn cinema to see on Memorial Day.

Things that were great:
  • Humor -- In this second Avengers outing, we can see that the individuals who were first assembled in 2012 have truly bonded as a team. They work together efficiently, and they can take and give verbal jabs. These jabs occur when on the job ("Are we just going to ignore the fact that Cap just said, 'Language'?") and when relaxing, as the after-party scene of the guys trying to lift Thor's hammer shows:

  • Secrets -- Yes, they're comfortable with each other, but they don't know everything about each other. Not yet. And the revealing of some of those secrets yield great character insights. Through Scarlet Witch's influence, we learn how paranoid Tony Stark is (and how that leads to the events in the film), we get a glimpse into Black Widow's past, and we see a vision of that might be a teaser for the next Thor film.
  • Hero against Hero -- In a continuation of the "heroes have to fight each other before they can fight together" trope, we get Iron Man fighting the Hulk. And we see the film translation of the HulkBuster armor, which was first seen in the comics in 1994 (and I'm sure fans were hoping to see it in action ever since the last Avengers film). I have to say, I loved the film interpretation of this armor. From calling it "Veronica" (is that the name of the full system, the piece Stark communicates with, or just the armor?) to the isolation cage, to the floating spare parts distribution ("Veronica, give me a hand"), this was fantastic movie magic.
  • Rise of a Villain -- It's always interesting when a hero has a hand in creating his or her villain. And that is the case here with Ultron. However, when this movie was announced, and I knew the cast did not include Hank Pym (Ant-Man), I wondered how they were going to shoehorn Stark in as Ultron's creator. Well, I guess I needn't have worried. With Scarlet Witch's interference and Stark's science bros relationship with Banner, the creation of Ultron was in sure, if not always the most trustworthy, hands.
  • Monsters -- "We are all monsters." What a great line, even a great message. That is all.
  • A Vision of the Future -- Also of note is how The Vision comes to be. In the comics, Ultron creates The Vision as a weapon against the Avengers, but he ultimately rebels and joins the Avengers instead. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron sees The Vision (body) as part of his own evolution (that is, his own consciousness will go into this ultimate vision of what Ultron thinks he is). However, the Avengers intervene. And, after some ... discussion ... the Vision rises and takes his place as an ally against the robotic villain. I have to say, I really enjoyed Thor's part in bringing the Vision to life ("I've had a vision. Zzzzzzzzap!"). And how Thor's vision paves the way literally for Avengers: Infinity War (but is also, likely, a teaser for Thor: Ragnarok).
  • Freaky and Weird -- The addition of brother and sister team, Scarlet Witch (Wanda) and Quicksilver (Pietro), is great. It's particularly great to have Scarlet Witch as her addition places another woman on the team, one that is a powerhouse. Now, in the comics, Wanda and Pietro start out as members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. So the fact that this movie has the twins aligned first with Baron Strucker and then with Ultron carries echoes of their early comicbook villainy.
  • Step Into The Role -- Dangrdafne already mentioned this in her review, but I have to echo it: When Wanda stepped out the door and into the battle after Hawkeye's pep talk, I wanted to cheer!

Things that were not so great:
  • Brief Lives -- If you've made it this far, I'm not worried about spoiling the film for you. So ... Pietro (Quicksilver) dies. I say this is not-so-great because the Wanda and Pietro dynamic as siblings and as fellow Avengers has been an important factor in the comics. And I've heard other fans complain that Pietro had too little time before he died. However, although I said it's not-so-great, I'm actually OK with his death. A speedster literally having a brief life is, to my mind, kind of a great analogy for the fact that all any one of us ever has is a brief life. You can chose to live it at full tilt or not. But full tilt -- and self-sacrifice -- is the more difficult way to live. It is also the more memorable.
  • Bannova -- Yes, I just made a mashup of Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanova's surnames. Yes, I acknowledged that they are, or could be, a couple. And, yes, I will even go on record that I am OK with Bruce and Natasha exploring something more than a working relationship. So, why is "Bannova" on this list? Because I'm bummed with Hulk/Banner's choice to go off and not return to Natasha. To quote Stark earlier in the film: "Dick move, Banner!"
  • Don't Say the "M" Word -- It was weird hearing Wanda and Pietro referred to as "Enhanced" rather than mutants. But I understand it. Marvel Cinemaverse is heading toward The Inhumans, and Fox owns the concept of the mutants/X-Men. And I'm not even going to address the legions of fans who are outraged over the change of the twin's parentage (mainly because ... I don't care; it's not that big a deal to me). So even though I say the whole scenario is not-so-great, it is simply not a deal breaker for me. 

So, bottom line: I give Avengers: Age of Ultron 4 1/2 paws!

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