27 April 2015

Cruise Control For Earth

Sometimes it's best to read all of the instructions before trying to use a device that you intend to have save you some time. I heard a story about some guy who bought himself a camper van and seeing that it had cruise control, decided to go for a drive. Now we sane people know that this simply means that the vehicle will maintain its speed without you having to dick about with the pedals. But this golden fuck-nugget bought the thing under the assumption that cruise control meant autopilot and that he'd never need to steer again. So the dipshit went for his drive, popped on the cruise control, and without so much as a test, went to the back to make himself a cup of tea. Cut to one minute later when the road hits a bend, and suddenly Dopey the Dick finds himself smashed to buggery and on his way to the hospital. I think he then sued the makers of his vehicle, presumably on the grounds that he's a braindead, fucking, numpty.

Anyway, I only tell this story because it has recently been adapted into Marvels Avengers: Age of Ultron. The only difference is that the man’s name is now Tony Stark, and the want for autopilot has been replaced by a desire to create a robot that will protect the world so that he doesn't have to. Oh and when it goes wrong, instead of being a small van crashing, it's actually the accidental creation of a giant kill-bot that intends to bring about the apocalypse. Beyond that though, the story is essentially the same. As a result of his balls-up, Stark requires the help of the steroid advocating Captain America; Thor, the collective wet-dream of the Nazis; and Hulk, a monster that looks like what might happen nine months after Kermit the Frog was fucked by The Rock. Only together do they have a chance of stopping Stark’s creation - who cannot only create multiples of himself but also travel around the world via the internet. Although, if my internet speed is anything to go by, then the metallic bastard would be a hell of a lot faster if he just got out and fucking walked.

Anyway, so I suppose the question on every-bodies mind is, 'Is the film any good?' To which the obvious answer is, 'Of course it fucking is'. I mean if you don't like comic book movies then you'll hate it because you're a dullard, but as a devout follower of director Joss Whedon, I have to say that I loved every second. Whedon claimed that he didn't simply want to make the same film that he did last time, and in that regard this is a complete success. Like any big franchise, the first movie established the characters and so this one is able to quite literally hit the ground running. In fact there's so much story, character and action crammed into this that it feels as though it has the density of a star that's been compressed into the shape of a tiny butt-plug. Even the constant quips and jokes serve to progress the story or character by hiding the exposition behind the laughter. Sneaky bastards! As a result of this, the few quieter moments that exist end up lingering in your memory just as clearly as anything else, simply because it was nice to be allowed a moment to breathe. One minute everybody's having a laugh at a party, and the next they're in South Africa fighting a bunch of robots, and a Hulk who’s gone so berserk that you'd think that he'd accidentally sat on his jolly green balls.

The way in which this differs from the first movie however, is in its tone which is much more subdued than its predecessors. Whereas part one was a pantomime of bright colours and crowd pleasing moments, this is a much more sombre affair that simply balances four hundred plates at once. There might be no, “Puny God”, moment for Hulk but over-all he is much more consistently used. This goes for all of the characters and is probably a result of them all working more seamlessly as a team. The downside might be that we miss out on the joy of seeing more of the Hulk treating a RADA trained thespian like a twatting-stick, but on the positive it means that the film is much more balanced as an ensemble. In fact, if there are any stand-out characters, then it's ironically probably both Hawkeye and Black Widow, due to them having not had the tit of their backstories milked dry in previous solo movies.

Of course though, as well as the return of our favourite gimped-up, super-team, there's also a few new characters joining for the ride such as Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver. The former is like an American's version of those girls that crawl out of televisions in creepy Japanese movies but with her power being the ability to both screw up people’s minds, whilst also giving them a bad case of pink-eye. The latter is her brother, who has the ability to run faster than a murdering Olympian with no legs, whilst also lacking the charisma of his Days of Future Past incarnation. In terms of what they bring to the table, then regards to some original visuals and dynamics, I'd say they're both welcome additions, although as fun as she might be, he is pretty much the definition of bland. Like a close-up of some bloke’s balls in a porno, you understand why Quicksilver is on screen but you won't be disappointed when they cut to something else a second later. As well as these two however, there is also the addition of The Vision who I won't spoil seems as he's barely been featured in any of the trailers. Suffice to say though, that his introduction may be the highlight of the film for me, and what could anybody not enjoy about seeing Paul Bettany crossed with a gay Power Ranger?

Of course though, with this being a Marvel film, it suffers from the third act issue of somebody accidentally pressing the large action set-piece button when writing the script. That's not to say that the final battle isn't done well with each of the characters having their moments to shine individually and as a team. It's just that with these movies, it's getting a little clich├ęd at this point, and nor does it help the drama that half of the cast have already been announced as appearing in the various follow up films. Not to point out the obvious, but unless you think that Thor: Ragnorok is going to be a two hour funeral scene, then you can probably guess as to whether or not he survives. Having said that, I've been a huge defender of Superman Returns since every-bodies brains malfunctioned and they stupidly assumed it was shit. You might think that campaigning for some poverty stricken country is a good deed, but last time I checked it's been nine years since that film was released and it's still not received the credit it deserves. So it was therefore nice to see that the final set-piece to Age of Ultron borrowed heavily from the imagery presented in that under-rated masterpiece. Not only is it further proof that Superman Returns contains greatness but I get to formally now challenge anybody currently rolling their eyes or shaking their heads to a fight... Unless you're bigger than me.

The other big problem of Marvels Cinematic Universe is that with the exception of Loki, their villains have all been a bit rubbish. It's kind of like some kid I went to school with who soiled himself during P.E and then failed to change his shorts for the next few weeks. It's not like the problem is so bad that it's life threatening, but rather that, that shit really should be sorted out by now. To some degree this film addresses that with Ultron being a little more charismatic than whoever that fucker was in Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm told that, that guy’s name was Ronan the Accuser, but I'm pretty sure that his only character trait was his make-up which consisted of black tattoo's over a blue face. As such, he's only memorable for looking like how Darth Maul might if he'd suffered a David Carradine style wanking accident. To a degree, Ultron goes some way to addressing this by simply being both so visually different from anybody else, but also being quite funny. I've seen a lot of films, featuring a lot of robots, but with the exception of Arnold Schwarzenegger's political career I can't think of any who have tried to take over the world with such charisma. Generally the tin-bodied killing machines are pretty monosyllabic and so it's nice to see one that indulges so freely in a pissy fit. He's sort of like the openly gay C-3PO, if somebody crammed Mickey Rourke into his costume and then R2-D2 made a joke about the state of his face. 


So in the end I think the consensus seems to be that Age of Ultron is a sequel that's less fun but ultimately a better film, and I suppose I agree. If you haven't seen any of the previous movies then you'll still enjoy this for what it is, but if you are going to crawl out from under that rock then I reckon you'll enjoy it a lot more if you catch up first. The film is not without its faults, but considering the size of the challenge it's the closest proof I've had for a God in a long time. Michael Bay can't even tell a story on this scale about one character without providing at least one advantage to being born without sight or hearing. The fact that Whedon has managed to make a brilliant film about ten characters is not only a miracle, but further proof to his genius. Some people might think that he's over-rated but then some people also deny the holocaust, and so fuck you all. If my cruise control/auto-pilot theory is correct, then this may be the best adaptation of an urban legend that I've ever seen. Failing that then you're still left with an amazingly entertaining blockbuster that manages to squeeze so much in that it makes Piers Morgan's straining shelf of awards for being 'The World’s Biggest Wanker' look empty. Thanks for reading motherfuckers and I'll see you next time.  

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