Sign in using your account with
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Epic Chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe isn't Without its Missteps
Writer-director Joss Whedon has sure come a long way since his humble superhero beginnings with TV shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. His entry to the cinematic world of Marvel Comic Universe began with the 2012's Avengers – a movie that many claim to be one of the best comic-book movies ever – and it continues with its 2015 follow-up, Age of Ultron; an exciting but a slightly-inferior sequel that, despite its hiccups, will still manage to draw in the masses.
Having successfully defeated the mighty-villain Loki, the Avengers have gathered together to put a stop to the Hydra leader, Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Kretschmann), and his latest experimental efforts.
See, von Strucker has been testing Loki's powerful sceptre on a couple of twins, the super-fast, Pietro (Taylor-Johnson) – a.k.a Quiksilver – and the telekinetic, Wanda Maximoff (Olsen) – a.k.a Scarlet Witch, who have been tasked to go after Stark. However, the Avengers manage to defeat the enemy forces and Thor is able to return Loki's sceptre back to Asgard.
After managing to enjoy a rare moment of peace and quiet, the Avengers soon get a troubling wake-up call with the arrival of Ultron (voiced by Spader); a gigantic robot - powered by Stark's unsuccessful dig into the world of AI - and an entity determined to destroy the Avengers and wipe out the humankind from the face of the world.
There's a troubling and occasionally jarring sense of melodrama surrounding Joss Whedon's latest Avengers adventure and, with two more planned, this entry seems like more of a vehicle to advance the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leaving it feeling a little hollow. Nevertheless, Age of Ultron is still an exciting addition and the fans will find plenty here to love; exciting battle sequences, super-cool special effects, plenty of drama and even a new villain. Additionally, the performances – especially of those by Renner and Johansson whose characters get a little bit more of the limelight this time around – gives the MCU much more dept and both Olsen and Taylor-Johnson as the supernatural twins, managed to hold their own.
However, as thrilling as all that may be, the plot feel still feels like a filler for what's to come and the tone wavers in an awkward position between light, snappy wit and an inflated sense of drama, from which the villanous Ultron suffers most. Age of Ultron is not as exciting as its predecessor, but that doesn't mean it won't deliver at the Box Office.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.