Avengers: Age Of Ultron

I was tempted to start by saying this was not the best of the Avenger’s movies, but that might give a false impression, this is a classic Avengers/Marvel movie, what it lacked was the sense of something new, which the others had. Written & directed by Josh Wedon (Cabin in the Woods, 2012). Set post the battle of New York and the disintegration of SHIELD, the Avengers team essentially continues where SHIELD left off. While the operation is financed by Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr. (The Judge 2014) it is lead in the field by Steve Rogers/Captain America as they battle the forces of Hydra under Count von Strucker (Thomas Kretschman, Dracula 3D, 2012).

Indeed the opening scenes set the tone for the movie – set-piece action sequences, interspersed with some dry comedy from the team. The comedy is verbal, rather than situational slap-stick.

As expected the team, win the day and capture their prize, but only after learning of the existence of two new “enhanced” humans, the Maximoff twins; Pietro/Quicksilver with his speed (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Godzilla, 2014) and his sister Wanda/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson Red Lights, 2012). Whedon gives us an interesting play with these characters and works them well into the story line and set-up the narrative for the ever increasing numbers.

The plot to the movie is nothing strenuous, while hunting down Hydra and recovering various artifacts, they recover Loki’s staff and Stark decides to use it for tests and to see if it can be used to restart a dysfunctional planetary defence system, he enlists the help of Dr. Banner/The Hulk (Foxcatcher 2014) but keeps the work quiet. This of course queues up the inevitable disaster and low and behold a super AI is created who – first sets-out to destroy the digital mind that is Jarvis (Stark’s AI)takes over the body of one of the fighting legion of Iron robots which fight with Iron Man. The creation is revealed to the world when it basically gate-crashes the Avengers and friends having a party.

What continues is the usual high-octane Marvel-fest of graphics, stunts, disasters and battles. As Ultron continues on his way to destroy the world using Hydtra assets, he works to transform himself from an electrical circuit to a living electronic being with a mind. He will do this using technology Dr. Helen Cho ( Claudia Kim, Marco Polo 2014) is developing to help the Avengers recover from injury using cell regeneration. This is interrupted as the team take back the initiative and out of the mess is created Vision, who is the “solidification” of the virtual mind that was Jarvis. The robot/AI has developed from being a comic foil for Downey to being an Avenger. The part is excellently played by Paul Bettany (Priest 2011), who having given the character voice now gives it form.

Needless to say, after much near death, a few heavy soul-searching moments and lots of near impossible stunt work the team eventually get their way. What is important is what happened along the way. We learn that Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner Kill the Messenger, 2014) has a private life outside of the Avengers, and also of a possible growing relationship between Natasha Romanoff and Dr. Banner/The Hulk.

The humour is laugh-out-loud in places while in others it is definitely for the fans with the occasional “in-joke” which works. It is clear from the start that this is a movie which knew it could not take itself too seriously and so deliberately added the necessary humour. Being part of a greater narrative means that they have quite a support cast to call upon. Don Cheadle, Idris Elba and Stellan Skarsgard all reprise their roles to support while we also have appearances from Anthony Mackie; Sam Wilson/the Falcon (Pain & Gain 2013) and Heyley Atwell’s Peggy Carter. (The Sweeney 2012).

I recently learned that there is actually no set number of Avengers (there is about 50 of them in total) and we see hints of this with the ever increasing number of Avengers and their supporters.

Judging by this movie, there is no hint of the franchise slowing down anytime soon, it might be picking up if anything.


Big Hero 6

Firstly, I enjoyed this movie, I’m not quite sure which demographic it was aimed at (as many as possible I suspect) but it worked. I’ll get thje negative out of the way first. The World of Big Hero 6 is a Japanese San Francisco called San Fransokyo. This is my issue. I spent the first few minutes of the film trying hard to forget Philip K Dick’s “Man In a High Castle” which was set in a post-WWII environment where the axis powers had been victorious and among other things was the Japanese governed west coast of America. Once I managed to get that behind me, I was able to sit back and enjoy the film.

This is a Disney production of Marvel characters and is essentially a similar movie to Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) which also gave us a new screen introduction to an all new breed of super-heroes. This is the first of the Marvel characters to be released as an animated movie in this current reboot of all things Marvel. Disney developed software for the graphics and it has to be said the graphics here as good as they get.

Brothers Hiro (Ryan Potter, Supah Ninjas 2011) and Tadashi Hamada (Daniel Henney, the Last Stand, 2013) are parentless orphans living with their aunt. Young Hiro, at 14 is a technology genius who I spends his time developing fight-bots much to his older brother Tadashi’s objections. Tadashi himself is no slouch and it enrolled at a special robotics class at the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology. Tadashi takes Hiro to his lab in the hope of inspiring him. In the course of the visit he meets Tadashi’s friends and professor who inspires him to enter a competition to gain entry to the course, even at 14.

Hiro designs revolutionary micro-bots which he presents at the exhibition to great reaction, however the exhibition hall goes on fire which resulted in Tadashi being killed trying to rescue the professor.

Mourning Tadeshi’s loss Hiro realises that Tadeshi’s medical robot “Baymax” (Scott Adsit St. Vincent, 2014) is actually in the house with him. Activiating Baymax results in the discovers of Hiro’s micro-bot which he thought were destroyed. The microbots are revolutionary in that they can be controlled by mind-control.

After finding the microbots it is obvious that there is trouble afoot. Baymax, thinking Hiro needs the company of Tadeshi’s pals from the Lab calls them, which is just as well as Hiro is trying to escape the masked villain. Together using Hiro’s super genius they design super-hero weapons and gadgets reflecting their areas of expertise. Like with Guardians the individuals on their own are far less than the synergy of the group. Fred T.J. Miller is the “mascot” of the group who is a spoiled rich kid who essentially funds their experiments. Then there is Go Go (Jamie Chung, Premium Rush2012) the speed merchant and Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr. The Other Guys, 2010) the giant of the group who is also a hypochondriac, who are supported by Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez, Tusk, 2014)who creates the sticky coloured paint bombs. Hiro’s upgrading of Beymax helps things along.

As with any superhero plot the team goes after the masked villain (James Cromwell, Still Mine, 2012), gets a bloody nose, regroups and then we have the big show-down. Nothing new here. As standard as the plot is, the script actually supports it well and provides us with a good story. If you are a fan of the Marvel reboots then you will enjoy this. Nothing too heavy but not childishly light.