Avengers Come Of Age With Ultron

a2 poster

Eye-popping. Action-drenched. Dazzling. LOUD. Explosive. Those are words that come to mind when thinking about Avengers: Age of Ultron. That is because this sequel to The Avengers is a true visual feast. That isn’t to say that Avengers: Age of Ultron tops the original, it doesn’t, but viewers will have an unforgettable time at the theaters watching it.

Joss Whedon returns to the director’s chair with this sequel that reunites most of the original cast including Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanov/Black Widow. Like any worthwhile sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron introduces new, exciting characters like Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the malevolent android Ultron (James Spader).

Avengers in forest

After a kinetic opener where the Avengers take out an enemy base in Eastern Europe, they encounter two super-powered people who are antagonistic towards them. One of them, the Scarlet Witch, has mind-altering powers and influences Stark to retrieve Loki’s scepter from the base. In the last film, this weapon was wielded by Thor’s errant brother Loki and it’s powered by one of the immensely powerful Infinity Stones featured throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Back in New York, Stark and Banner QS capdecide to use the scepter’s power to help them create a genuine artificial intelligence. Their efforts fail, but once they leave the lab, the program becomes sentient and assumes the Ultron identity in a damaged Iron Man drone body. The problem is that Ultron’s programming of performing Stark’s directive of bringing about world peace has been corrupted. Now it wants to eliminate humanity. The AI goes viral and spans the world, perfecting its physical body and carrying out its planned extinction event as the Avengers struggle to catch up to Ultron and defeat it. As this plays out throughout the film, we see shifting alliances, inside looks of our heroes, and the emergence of new heroes.

ultronAvengers: Age of Ultron is a very busy film, sometimes too busy. There are so many plot points and character developments that things get lost in the shuffle at times. It rushes through plot developments that needed more nuance like the creation of Ultron. The moment it becomes self aware it is automatically evil. There are attempts to explain why Ultron wants to kill humanity but they’re hollow and don’t resonate. Another example are the development of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Too much exposition explains their background and their evolution feels rushed. Then there are moments when the film is about to go off the rails with its nods to the larger MCU and in setting up other films. Sometimes it feels organic, like Stark and Rogers’ growing antagonism towards each other, which will culminate in next year’s Captain America: Civil War. Other times they feel tacked on and clumsily shoved in like Thor worrying about his own dilemmas that will be concluded in his next film. These diversions while interesting don’t allow this film to stand on its own because this film shines when it’s concentrating on its own merits.

With all this going on, things get lost in the shuffle and aren’t dwelled upon. The film struggles to juggle all these visionnew characters and servicing the old ones. It is too bad more time wasn’t spent on the Vision, the best new character thanks to Bettany’s sympathetic performance. However, some much needed time is devoted to Avengers who didn’t have much screen presence the last time around. This applies to Barton as we find out that he actually has a wife and family and this revelation makes him much more endearing to us as the point is driven home that he is the most vulnerable Avenger. Also, it was interesting to see that Captain America has by now emerged as the true leader of the team and has more of a screen presence than Iron Man.

As action-packed and fast moving as it is, Avengers: Age of Ultron lacks the original’s oomph and sense of wow. The novelty of seeing our favorite superheroes coming together isn’t there obviously, but it does its best to carry on. Usually it succeeds in dazzling the audience but it gets bogged down with its flaws.

hulk vs hulkbuster

Putting that aside, Avengers: Age of Ultron is very exciting and worth watching in theaters. Many of the special effects and action scenes are inspired and breathtaking like the part where Iron Man battles the Hulk in Africa or when Captain America and Black Widow confront Ultron and his drones in South Korea. It’s commendable that this isn’t just your typical empty summer film. It has heart and character thanks to topnotch acting. Joss Whedon knows how to raise the stakes for our characters in the final arc where Ultron finalizes his machinations and there’s a feeling of desperation and fatality among the Avengers. We care about these characters and by the end of the film the status quo has been upset and that’s a good thing. Like the comic book this film is based upon, things are always evolving with the Avengers, which will make things feel fresh in upcoming films.

avengers age of ultron cast

Despite its faults Avengers: Age of Ultron is a fitting and exuberant conclusion to Phase Two of the MCU and sets up the next chapter in the growing MCU.

José Soto

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Avengers: Age Of Ultron Teaser Trailer!

Never mind watching next week’s episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Marvel has decided to release this teaser for next year’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron today. Whoa…this just looks super awesome!

Seriously, what’s not to like? We have the Hulk battling Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armor, lots of explosions and mayhem, and best of all Ultron! It seems like Joss Whedon made yet another brilliant casting decision by choosing James Spader to play the iconic Avengers villain. Ultron looks incredibly badass and intimidating in the same vein as the Terminator. Hopefully he’ll be on screen just as memorable as Loki or Magneto and become of the great Marvel movie villains. Obviously, there isn’t any way to say that this film will be better than its predecessor The Avengers, but it looks like another winner for Marvel Studios.

Our hats off to Marvel, after making the rest of us who didn’t attend this summer’s Comic Con sweat and agonize over the concealed footage shown at that convention, they’ve given all of us a nice treat. So enjoy this official Avengers: Age Of Ultron trailer!

 

Update: …And here’s the extended trailer featuring more footage, it’s still creepy with that Pinocchio music.

Comic – Con 2014 Highlights & Observations

max avengers ultron poster 

This year’s Comic-Con didn’t have any big, surprise revelations that brought down the convention halls, like last year’s announcement of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Nonetheless, there were many scintillating news that came out of the convention that made many drool and envious that they weren’t there to witness the announcements…or see the exclusive trailers and footage.

Dawn Of The Justice League

It’s funny how pumped up people are for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and it’s not coming out next year! Warner Bros. and DC Comics may want to reconsider their release schedule of May 2016 and put this film out sooner. While next summer and December are already covered by guaranteed blockbusters, there are plenty of other months where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will completely dominate the box office like Captain America: The Winter Soldier did this past April.

bat fight

What brings out this feeling with us here at Starloggers is that based on the fact that there is footage out about the movie, it seems as if it’s close to being complete. Those shots of Batman on the rainy rooftop decked out in full armor and a visibly angry Superman up in the sky facing him were just electrifying. Apparently, director Zack Snyder took the essence of Frank Miller’s classic The Dark Knight Returns and translated it to screen. As a bonus, the reveal of Gal Gadot in her Wonder Woman outfit was just a perfect bonus; an Amazonian warrior brought to life!

Avengers: Age Of Ultron & The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Unlike Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, there hasn’t been any photos or footage leaked over next summer’s eagerly awaited sequel to The Avengers. The same went for Ant-Man. Reportedly, the crowd predictably went bonkers over the exclusive footage shown for Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the clips shown, the attendees saw Iron Man’s Hulkbuster armor, footage of the heroes fighting Ultron and a haunting image of Captain America’s broken shield.

broke shield

What helped whet the appetites for fans around the Internet and at Comic-Con were the beautiful posters showcasing each individual Avenger fighting Ultron and his android army. The full poster that has all of them put together is sure to be a sought-after item.

The news that actor Patrick Wilson dropped out of Ant-Man may have reminded some of the behind-the-scenes production headaches plaguing this film. Still, the production is pushing on with their promotion and hopefully Marvel Studios will have another winner in their hands.

The film studio is so confident about Guardians of the Galaxy, that they announced that the film’s director James Gunn will return to direct the sequel, which has a firm release date in July 2017.

The Absentees

While Marvel Studios confidently showcased their upcoming films, it was noticeable that Twentieth Century Fox didn’t have anything to show for next summer’s Fantastic Four reboot. It’s obvious that the studio and the production team behind the much-maligned reboot is feeling sensitive and protective over the film in response to the negative feedback from many fans. No matter how you look at the situation, it doesn’t bode well for the film. But it may wind up winning over fans in the end.

There were other films being released next year that weren’t represented as well. The biggest one was Star Wars Episode VII, which if something was shown might’ve eclipsed the Marvel and DC presentations. Also MIA was Brad Bird’s highly anticipated and mysterious Tomorrowland . Not seeing anything from Star Wars wasn’t a surprise since the film is still early in production, but it’s a missed opportunity for Tomorrowland because there is a lot of curiosity over the film. But Star Wars fans didn’t walk away empty handed: the full-length trailer for the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels made its debut at Comic-Con and it looks terrific.

Other News

Despite the lack of big, headline-making announcements, there were some that had merit. Take for example the news that Legendary Pictures plans to release a prequel to King Kong that takes place on the mighty ape’s homeland, the dinosaur-packed Skull Island. Then there was the pleasant surprise for fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when it was announced that Alexander Siddig (Doctor Bashir) is joining the cast of Game of Thrones. Also noteworthy were the news that the Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul will be a major nemesis for the next season of Arrow and Bobbi Morse a.k.a. Mockingbird will be part of the returning Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Of the many trailers for movies and TV shows, one that caught everyone’s attention was that of next year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. From looking at the footage, it seems clear that director George Miller has returned to the high-octane roots of the Mad Max franchise. It’s a welcome thought since that futuristic anti-hero has been absent from the screens for too long.

That wraps up what we thought of Comic-Con 2014. We already cannot wait for next year’s convention. BTW, check our Background Noise and Facebook pages for any links (once we find them) to leaked footage or photos themselves of Avengers: Age of Ultron and any other highly anticipated film.

DC & Marvel Throw The Film Gauntlets

ultron supebat

It’s clear that the comic book/movie titans DC and Marvel have thrown the gauntlets at each other at Comic-Con this weekend.

Both companies attempted to one-up each other with surprise announcements regarding their film franchises.

It all started innocently enough when the famous convention opened on July 17. Marvel hawked their upcoming comic book developments (remember those?), as well as the highly anticipated Agents Of Shield TV show. DC provided news on future comic book projects and celebrated the 75th anniversary of Superman with a tribute to Action Comics #1.

worlds finestThen the first bombshell was dropped yesterday. Warner Bros. and DC announced that the sequel to the film Man Of Steel will feature none other than the Caped Crusader himself, Batman! True, it’s not the Justice League film that fans are slobbering for, but it’s the next best thing, a live-action version of World’s Finest, the comic book series that teamed up DC’s most popular heroes. Seeing them on screen together was unwittingly foreshadowed in the Will Smith movie from a few years ago I Am Legend. A careful eye will spot in the movie a film poster that blends the two iconic symbols together as was done at Comic-Con.

Some may complain that Superman should be granted another solo film to develop his world. The success of Man Of Steel warrants that idea. But the problem is that DC and Warner Bros. are now in a race against the other big kid on the block. With the announcement, DC is acknowledging that they are competing against the Marvel movie behemoth, but in a different way. Rather than rushing out with a Justice League film to compete against the next Avengers film, or carefully building up the DC movie universe with references, DC chose a compromise. A Superman/Batman film allows for a new, re-imagined Batman to be introduced, while giving justified screen time to Superman. If they’re smart they should introduce elements and references to other DC characters to nicely set up the eventual Justice League film. Superman will get a chance to have another solo movie later on. There are also percolating, unofficial rumors about a Flash movie in 2016 and finally a Justice League film in 2017. To date, those two films haven’t been confirmed by Warner Bros. or DC.

spidey electro

One would think that Marvel would try to raise the ante of that announcement. And they did. At Comic-Con, the company lauded their upcoming releases, principally, a well-received presentation of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 film. In that presentation, they had Spider-Man, the character himself, make an appearance at the official panel for next summer’s film. Meanwhile, footage from the film X-Men: Days Of Future Past was shown and it whetted many attendees’ appetites. Other showcased films included Thor: The Dark World (Tom Hiddleston appeared in character as the villainous Loki), Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the eagerly awaited Guardians Of The Galaxy.

age ultornThe big reveal came when The Avengers director himself, Joss Whedon, presented a preview trailer for the 2015 sequel. No new footage was shown, just a montage of previous Marvel movies. But the end of that montage electrified everyone when the helmet belonging to the villainous android Ultron was unveiled, along with the film’s title: The Avengers: Age Of Ultron! For non-comic book fans, Ultron is an android created by Avengers member Hank Pym that went rogue and became one of the team’s deadliest foes. He was the featured villain in this year’s comic book mini-series event Age Of Ultron. This stunned many who were expecting the big heavy to be Thanos as hinted in the end of The Avengers. Ultron’s appearance in The Avengers: Age Of Ultron also indicates that the Marvel movie universe will be expanded significantly. This also cements the fact that while DC has two titan character franchises, Marvel has shown that they have successfully created a solid film universe. These films feature many middle-ranged characters that are now well-known properties for Marvel.

Many will argue over which of the two companies will be the winner in the new comic book movie war. The clear answer is that the fans will be the victors as they finally behold their wildest dream. Now if they could just get Spider-Man or the X-Men to appear in a future Avengers film! LOL

Lewis T. Grove