Friday, 8 May 2015

My Review for Avengers: Age of Ultron

Hey there fellow nerds and X-fans! I know I've been quiet lately- and for good reason, but I just had to post my thoughts for the Marvel movie event of the year! Was Avengers: Age of Ultron better than its smash hit predecessor, Avengers, or did it disappoint? Read on for my spoiler-free review of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

This time around our motley crew of heroes face a nemesis of their own creation. Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner aka Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) work together to create a peacekeeping AI system, codenamed Ultron, to safeguard against any other threats to humanity, whether alien or from Earth itself. However, the tables are soon turned and Ultron, backed by his army of drones, seeks the extinction of humankind and the rise of the machines.

Just as attempted in Avengers, writer-director Joss Whedon ensures that we are not simply witness to explosions and heavy-duty action. We learn exactly what makes each hero tick, what makes them human. Wedon really tries to go above and beyond to give this movie more heart. Each character is given their own chance to shine - whether action-wise or with the inter-character interactions and dynamic. Even Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is a (bit) more interesting in this film! Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) was given more to do in this film as well and she is thankfully not fighting with just a pair of pew-pew pistols.

Newcomers Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) & Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) are introduced in this film. Yes, it is annoying that the Wanda in this film is just a shadow of what she really is in the comics, right down to essentially turning her into the MCU's equivalent of Jean Grey. On the upside, Whedon has used these powers to demonstrate to us just how flawed these heroes are and that they too have their weakness and personal baggage. On the flipside, the mental abilities meant yet more mind control being used on other characters, like as if we didn't have enough of zombie-Hawkeye in Avengers. I liked how they handled Quicksilver- He's definitely not cooler than the Pietro we watched with glee in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but hey it could've been worse. I did appreciate that the Maximoff twins were given an accent. It still peeves me that Black Widow doesn't speak with a Russian accent.

Vision (Paul Bettany) is another new entrant thrown into the mix, though comic book fans will know how Vision came to be, this origin for the movie-verse fits very well. It was great to see him in action! While Paul didn't get a whole lot to do in this film, hopefully the scope of his role is increased in future Marvel and Avengers films. He will next be seen in Captain America: Civil War. The Easter Egg of Vision coming to carry Scarlet Witch away from the fray was definitely a nice touch and made me smile. 

In the acting department I need not elaborate on the original Avengers cast who are now beloved in the eyes of the fanboys and everyone else. Olsen and Johnson performed adequately well with what they were given but I'm sure there are many other more capable actors, with a much better screen presence than Olsen. I must admit that I felt let down when Elizabeth was announced to play the role of Scarlet Witch. She never really wows you in this film to help redeem her either. Paul Bettany was good, but there is only so much you can do when you are playing an emotionless android. James Spader as Ultron does a great job providing a very menacing tone to the character in the voice acting department.

What was a let-down for me in this film was the action. Among the fun action sequences was the Hulk vs Iron Man Hulkbuster battle which is a joy to watch, although I couldn't help thinking about the amount of destruction that was happening around them whist fighting each other. I'm sure this will be addressed in Captain America: Civil War.

Otherwise, the action all felt very "been there, done that" as we have already watched the Avengers go against seemingly never-ending waves of alien Chithauri in the previous film. The climactic action sequence felt pretty much like a repeat, except with robots. What's more, this time the Avengers get help from not one, not two, but three more new members, so it doesn't really keep you on the edge of your seat as you know it's going to end with a win for the Avengers. A hero casualty is thrown into the mix but as an audience we are not yet so fully invested into the character to really make us mourn the passing. It was like- okay, one down- what's next? I honestly hope that Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Part 2 will bring something fresh and new to the table with Thanos finally making his grand entrance. 

The Visual Effects, as in the previous Avengers, are on point. Ultron looks imposing and menacing but the designs left behind in the concept art look way better. I liked their interpretation of Quicksilver's powers and how he uses them in battling the hordes of baddies. What I didn't really like again was the visual interpretation of Wanda's powers. It makes sense in the comics for her powers to be channeling from her hands as her abilities there are probability manipulation, Chaos Magic & reality warping. In this movie, her powers are purely mental so how does she channel her abilities from her hands is beyond me. That red mist really doesn't cut it either and looks lazy.

The costumes in this film were disappointing. There didn't seem anything very new done to the Iron Man and Thor costumes save maybe some minor changes. I personally still adore the Captain America costume from Captain America: Winter Soldier but I understand why they wouldn't want to use a similar costume for this film. I wasn't digging Hawkeye's new costume when the set photos came out but it didn't look bad in the film. However, I'm sure they could come up with something better than that. I appreciate the costume designers trying to bring something new to Black Widow's costume, but honestly, blue lights are not really going to cut it, especially for a character who is basically a stealth fighter. I found it so weird where in one fight scene which is in a darker environment, the lights on her suit are gaudily lit up. Just imagine her trying to sneak up on some baddies and those annoying lights give her away first!

And let's not get started on the costumes for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Both costumes look extremely lazy with no real effort put into it. Quicksilver looks like he picked his "suit" from the nearest sports apparel store and Wanda's looks like she just threw together some goth clothing from her wardrobe. The costume she appears in for about 5 seconds at the end of the film is something that would have been nice to watch her fight in. Once again, as with Ultron, the early designs for Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch's costumes in the concept art look so good compared to what we were served up with in the film. Vision's costume and overall look is what I can truly say I am happy with. I like how they have adapted the admittedly loud comic costume for the film and love the inner detailing on the cape as well.

Overall, the film is good but it lacks the punch packed by its predecessor. What I did like a lot of this film is the heart and the human aspect of it which it served up in spades. Action-wise I was expecting much more after the spectacular action we witnessed in Avengers. Die-hard fans of the comics would also be further disappointed by the numerous changes made in this film to the comic book stories. However, I would give it a rating of 7/10. It is definitely not perfect and has a lot of shortcomings but at the end of the day it is still an entertaining film. What did you think of them film? Did it meet your expectations or disappoint you? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

All the X-Men: Days of Future Past Concept Art in one Post

With the film getting rave reviews all around, it's time to check out all the concept art that helped create the cool visual effects, characters & costumes we saw in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I'll be updating this post character-wise with all the awesome art. Links to artists' & VFX companies' websites is at the end of the post.






Yup, apparently Jubilee was one of the characters that Bryan Singer had to cut in order to control the movie's running time.








So there you have it- all the X-Men DOFP concept art released so far in one big post! Which concepts are your faves? Did you like the final versions of characters or costumes seen in the film or do you wish some of the concepts displayed here made the cut instead...? Sound off in the comments below.

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