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Avengers 2

Darth Krawlie

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Saw it yesterday.



What even happened here? What did I just watch? I can’t tell what to call how I feel after seeing it.


Overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? I felt overwhelmed because the movie’s approach to nearly all of its action was a frenetic cacophony of pain unleashed on an array of identical henchmentschen, one after the other again and again, with a sprinkling of momentary slow-motion pauses so as to present the heroes to the audience in a kind of tableaux vivant of asskickery. It’s like the people responsible for this movie saw the great action sequence from the first one where the camera moved from each pair or individual Avenger fighting the aliens in Manhattan and they decided that for the sequel something like sixty percent of the movie should be that (the other thirty percent felt a lot like people just standing around talking in front of and about holograms; remaining ten percent of movie was curiously devoted to what somebody must feel is the hot new character find of ’15, Doctor Helen Cho) but speeded up so you can’t really tell what you’re seeing or occasionally slowed down so what you’re seeing has time to impress itself upon your senses but this impression is nearly entirely lacking in impact since what it is is just the good guys fighting some random Hydra guy or some random Ultron guy.


And I felt underwhelmed because I didn’t really follow what the movie was or what it meant or what its message (no, not message of course, but … what did Captain America and Thor and Iron Man and Black Widow and Hulk and Hawkeye learn about themselves or each other or whatever? They seemed to talk to each other a lot about what they should do or shouldn’t have done and sometimes they would, like, reveal secrets about themselves because a gypsy made them have bad daydreams or they needed a place for their friends to hang out) was. They start the movie fighting an undifferentiated mass of baddies who are capitalizing on the team’s prior mistakes and then towards the end have to fight another undifferentiated mass of baddies who is capitalizing on the team’s prior mistakes but at the very end they decided that now, in the future, they need to have their own undifferentiated mass of goodies to help them from now on. And there was a lot of what felt like generic blockbuster dialogue-by-numbers going on (and, to be fair, lots Whedon-y talk which undercut the usual pomposity) where characters would repeat what other characters had said earlier to them or there’d be quips or witticisms that weren’t particularly quipped or wittiful. Just, like, y’know how in any one of the Michael Bay films one of the 80s robots will defeat a different 80s robot and then sort of do a little flourish with his gun or his sword and say something like “Class dismissed” just out of the blue without anything even beforehand to set it up like the movie didn’t even bother to have the 80s robot say something prior to the fight like “Time to teach you a lesson” or “School is officially in session” or “Education is an important part of growing up; we learn and grow and change and blossom into robot flowers” but somebody somewhere decided that to really sell the moment of one robot defeating another robot there needed to be something vaguely dialogue-shaped, some collection of syllables, so that the audience would laugh or cheer, would really understand that here and now there had been a defeat of robot by robot and they just shoved it in there without any sense of rhyme or reason. What I’m saying is – for much of this movie you could have just switched out any of the individual Avengers and put one of the 80s robots (the Transformers, that’s what they were called, sometimes I forget the world’s most obvious things) in their place and what you’d see would have been indistinguishable from any one of the Transformers movies.


What was good about this movie? What was whelming? Hulk fighting Hulkbuster, sure. I liked Ultron – I never really understood what his plan was exactly or why he was doing things or even how the good guys defeated his floating city drill thingee – but he sure felt like Ultron from the comics. I liked that I was wrong about my expectations for the film – I was certain two characters were going to die and I was certain they were going to defeat Ultron’s army a certain way they didn’t do – so when someone else died instead and they defeated Ultron’s army by … punching each of them individually that was a pleasant enough surprise. I liked how just about everyone was in it and how some people weren’t just in it for a cameo, some of the people were in it and came back again later. I liked the aforementioned Whedon-y dialogue, that’s always a treat. I liked when Cap was all “You didn’t break any by-laws” but maybe would have preferred if instead they had all sat around a table in true Avengers fashion and argued over what by-laws might have been broken and who was going to be in charge of the team from then on. I liked it when Baron Strucker got his monocle knocked off. I liked the Eurotrash accents for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (did the movie ever call them exactly that?) and this new quasi-AdamWarlock take on The Vision but overall felt the movie failed in depicting these three to my nerdy satisfaction (why doesn’t The Vision have his superpowers? Where are their costumes?).


Maybe if instead of setting everything up for a bunch of movies two years from now the movie had spent more of its time on what was happening right then and there I would have found more to like. What’s the matter with today’s entertainment mediums? Movies are tv now --- they’re all about getting you to tune in to the next one. Tv are books --- long immersive serialized narratives that have to be absorbed chapter by chapter in linear order but are best considered as a whole. I know the answer to my question (that question being “What’s the matter with today’s entertainment mediums?”) is obviously “$” (the same answer applies to the question of “What was the matter with yesterday’s entertainment mediums?”) but is it just going to be like this forever? I’ve been super paranoid about spoilers or even non-spoilers that still might spoil the actual viewing experience for both this movie and for the upcoming Star Wars stuff (I haven’t even seen the new trailer for that and yet I still feel through some nerd osmosis that I know what’s been shown in the trailer) and I’m starting to feel like that doesn’t even need doing because The Force Awakens is just going to end up being forty percent about teasing The Force Awak2ns. I’m not talking cliffhangers (this movie doesn’t end on a cliffhanger but it still feels like a cheat for Thor to be all “I wonder what’s the deal with these magic rocks” and then for us not to find out what the deal is with the magic rocks, to instead show us once again mid-credits that a mysterious purple man with a weird chin has all sorts of plans involving the magic rocks and us and yes it still feels like a cheat for the movie to take a detour and briefly involve the antagonist for an upcoming movie in this movie) but it’s more like genre movies nowadays always have at least one or two scenes where a character points to a cliff off in the distance and says something like “I have a terrible problem and it can only be solved by climbing that cliff!” and then we don’t see them climb that cliff. We don’t even see them climb that cliff in the next movie either because that movie is made by different people and so it ends up that the cliff is climbed in some mid-franchise limbo state but the consequences of that cliff climbing will be addressed in the next movie you betcha. I don’t know. I’m an old fashioned man (well, ‘man’ might be stretching it, I’m more of a shameful mess of an adolescent boy barely concealed inside the putrescent skin of my late twenties) and I believe it was someone like Ensign Chekov who said that if a gun is placed on a mantelpiece in the first act it must go off in the third act and no amount of handwaving can make the third act of a work of drama an entirely separate film released nineteen months later made by different people. So the problem with genre movies today is too many guns and they’re neither put on the mantelpiece proper nor do they go off proper. It’s just action gun action story action gun gun talk action action credits post-credits gun. And this time I just wish the guns were better and the action was better and the story was better but the talk, all caveats aside, was mostly good. Talk was best thing about movie, second best thing about movie was the gadget in Cap’s glove which magnetically retrieved his shield, third best thing about movie was James Spader’s line delivery, fourth best thing was ScarJo (don’t cry about your empty quim, Black Widow, just get the Korean doctor to use her magic machine to fix your insides or better yet just skip the middleman and have the machine make you a baby instead), fifth best thing was the smash-cut-in-mid-sentence-to-credits.


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