Avengers: The Age Of Unnecessary Excessiveness
What is my personal basic litmus test of a good movie?
It is very simple. Do I care about the characters?
It does not matter what the genre is. It could be animated, horror, action thriller, war, slasher. It could be high budget or low budget. It could be Hollywood, German, or Indonesian. It does not matter. From Baymax to Darth Vader to Jason Bourne to the duo in ‘The Other Guys’ to the drummer in Whiplash to the hilarious trio of ‘Quickie Express’ – I care about the characters.
A movie must first make me care about the characters. It could be the hero that I cheer so much, or the villain that I grow to hate and want to see his demise at the end. Whether it’s hate, love, respect, contempt – as long as I have emotions for any of the main cast, it means I care about them.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron failed in that respect. I just do not care for the cast and whatever happens to them.
I don’t know what went wrong, since I really REALLY enjoyed the first Avengers. I always said the first one was the perfect example of a blockbuster movie. It was not so much about the special effects. It was the dynamics between the heroes that made you laugh, cringe, and root for them. Age of Ultron (AoU) almost has no resemblance of the original magic, except bigger explosions and insanely excessive soulless fighting.
Perhaps it is the overcrowded cast. AoU has so many characters it is hard to build a story for each. I lost count of how many characters of Marvel universe were brought into this single title (from Thor, Iron Man, Avengers). The scene switches so quickly from one hero to another, from one supporting cast to another, you didn’t manage to bond with any of them. Too many people running around the screen. Even the attempt to make us care about Banner and Romanoff fell flat, I start to care more about the couple in The Fault in Our Stars (and God knows how much I hate THAT teen flick).
Perhaps it is the over-reliance on special effects. Here, Joss Whedon treads really dangerous ground that could send him into the same pit where Michael Bay has gone before. There is just too much crazy special effects that overwhelm the story. It is like the Director has only one goal in life: “Heck, how can I top whatever action, destruction, and special effects from all prior blockbusters?” AoU has TOO MUCH of everything. Too much explosion, too much flying, too much property destruction, too much laser beams, too many robots – you name it. Anything that can be produced by the latest CGI will be shoved into all orifices in your body.
I don’t mind special effects. Hell, I don’t even mind suspending my logic to see physical law gets bent a little. Fast & Furious 7 also has ridiculous effect that we all know will not ever happen on this planet. But it is all okay because I care about the cast. It is not so much about cars jumping between three skyscrapers, it is about anticipating what will happen to the heroes (or what will they say). And that’s why I enjoyed Fast 7 so much. It’s the Toretto family more than the cars.
I was probably so upset, even furious, because I expected so much more from the studio that churned out Guardians of The Galaxy (GotG), one of my all time favorites. GotG has just the right balance of cast, a brilliant and enjoyable story, and great special effects that does not drown the senses. And as I said earlier, GotG won my heart by making me actually care about the cast. A green chick, an angry blue brute, a talking raccoon, a wise-cracking human could put warmth in my heart. Even a walking tree, a goddam walking TREE, with only 3-word vocabulary can make me feel more than the entire Avengers team. Even Scarlett Johansson’s curves no longer work here.
I thought the world has learned something from Michael Bay’s tragedy. Apparently they haven’t. When will action movie makers learn that excessive action and special effects can never replace the charm of a good story? You don’t keep our attention by continuously raising the level of set destruction and noise. 2/3 of the movie and I already felt numb by the excessive invasion of the senses. And for Odin’s hairy ass’ sake, why do we even have BATU AKIK appear in the goddam movie?!
Despite all that, I am sure AoU will still print money like some crazy African dictators. That’s the magic of Marvel studio, people just feel like that they must watch any movie Marvel produced. Just like Transformers franchise after the first. You KNEW you would walk into another shit cocktail, and you walked out of the cinema saying “I TOLD YOU IT WAS GONNA BE SHIT”, but you will watch the next installment anyway. Because it’s “Transformers”. It will be the same case with Age of Ultron. You slap the label “Avengers”, or “Iron Man”, or “Thor” on the title, and people will come.
Somebody in Age of Ultron said in one scene, that the Avengers “would tear themselves apart from within”. It was proven true. Although it wasn’t the doing of the villain. It was their own makers.
Ultron said that Tony Stark/Iron Man is just a hollow suit. I could say the same thing about the whole movie.