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David Poland

By David Poland

Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron (1 marked spoiler… at the end)


I spent a surprising amount of time during Avengers: Age of Ultron thinking about my age. I saw  what Joss Whedon was trying to do, but the film was so obvious in its ambitions… so episodic… so lacking in genuine surprise… that I found myself wondering whether others around me were having the same experience or whether I had hit an age where I just don’t have it in me to give myself over to a movie like this.

But as the movie continued, I realized that it wasn’t just me. The film feels like the work of a filmmaker trying to fix his perceived flaws from earlier work. But it also feels at one with the general movement of Marvel as a content producer these days, as seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and “Daredevil,” made for Netflix. More and more talktalktalk, punctuated by action sequences that are sized to fit the budget of each project. But the chatter has become more and more insipid as it reaches for profundity. I know some of you bought The Winter Soldier‘s ham-fisted ambitions to pose as a 70s thriller with a comic-book movie laid over the top. “Daredevil” repeats fairly simple ideas to the point of exhaustion, coming alive only in its martial arts-y action sequences (which also get repetitive ) and anytime Vincent D’Onofrio shows up as Wilson Fisk (whose origin story the show really is about and who doesn’t get nearly enough to do).

In Ultron, the Avengers are a well-established family. Inside jokes, established expectations, familiarity over competition. The group is so dominant that the screenplay has to dig into the classic tripe of making fun of what is obvious, particularly the idea of anyone shooting a gun at a super-being and the fact that the two Avengers not imbued with superpowers are mortal. In fact, I cringed a little every time I saw a cadre of guns aimed at the supers, whether by human props positioned as bad guys or as good guys. What is in it for us as an audience when people shoot guns at Hulk? I don’t get it.

In any case, Avengers feels like a third or fourth movie in a series. And thinking about it the morning after, that feels right. After all, we have had two Thors, two Caps, and three Starks. The characters are tired, no matter how much we like them. Even the casting feels tired. Excuses about the absence of even cameos by Gwyneth Paltrow or Natalie Portman abound, though the characters are discussed. And there is a former-SHIELD switcheroo that feels like two actors are playing one role, but one of them couldn’t find the time to show up for half the movie, while the other disappears completely and without mention in the second half. What the hell was that? And when the first former SHIELD-y is in the film, it feels like some sort of gender balancing choice… which I wouldn’t object to if it weren’t for the fact that she gets almost nothing to do but spout jargon and look good in a skin-tight dress.

The exception, with the core group, is Hulk, who finally got to break free the way everyone seems to have wanted him to in the first Avengers. And while not as heavy and pendulous as the two Hulk movies, Whedon really loses the Hulk joy in this one. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that the audience does not get what is promised and desired from what is (endlessly) set up in the story.

And then there are the new characters, Scarlet Witch, Zippy The Fast Boy, and Ultron. Oh… wait… Quicksilver… sorry. Unfortunately for Zippy, the really good Quicksilver speed gags were kinda used up by, uh, Quicksilver, in X:Men: Days Of Future Past. So our Quicksilver suffers thrice for this, primarily with an unclear role for his power, secondarily with a recurring gag that doesn’t really play, and (removed for spoiler). Scarlet Witch – not to be confused with Scarlett Johansson though they make sure we get a lot of her cleavage though they shoot away from her lower body often because she does her fighting in short skirts – has a role and powers that grow through the film, though again, she seems more powerful than her CV suggests at times and then very limited in her powers. This is one of the inherent problems with superhero films, which is filled in by your mind when reading a comic book. The degree of destruction from any one-on-one battle makes the return from a two-minute jump to what other characters are doing feel like we missed another whole city being destroyed.

And then… Ultron… who is not quite what we were sold in the ads. I understand the choice to make his mouth move when he talks, but it makes him look comic, almost like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. But his central conceit is a bit simplistic, really… at least for a character who seems like he could be really interesting. And the execution of ideas basic to the character – that any physical embodiment of Ultron can be destroyed and he just skips to another robotic body – just isn’t very good. I mean, we went here with The Hidden on a million-dollar budget in 1987 and it was brilliant. Here, it’s just ill-defined and confusing. I mean, I figured it out and all, but it isn’t done so the audience can follow it and track it. What are the hordes of robots for? Are they fighting the Avengers or are they just replacement parts? There was a great opportunity for cleverness and poignancy in this idea, which is in the film… but it just doesn’t play.

And that really is the big picture review of this film. It’s everything as well as the (very dangerous) kitchen sink. Whedon is reaching for so many things that even when he doesn’t miss (and 90% of the uber-serious dramatic dialogue is awful), he undercuts what could have been great fun by throwing too many toys into the playpen at once. “When everyone’s super, no one is!”

And don’t get me wrong. There are conceptual improvements. The final siege on a city is not as simplistic as the attack on NYC the last time. But… it’s still a city attack with a lot of undefined bad guys and a lot of time spent herding humans to safety.

Less would have been more.

You’ve all seen the giant Iron Man vs Hulk in ads and stuff. Well, that – like much of the other action – felt more obligatory than story-driven. They just needed a way to up action. And yeah, there is some cool there. This is not a horrible movie. I’d say there were three or four moments that really sparked for me. But the density made what was so clearly not formulaic still feel formulaic.

And here is my spoiler bit… because I think it is really a critical notion…




One of the best elements of the film is the introduction of Vision… which happens in the third act. How it happens is a convoluted mess that Stark tries to explain… but it’s just not believable… but of course, in the end, who cares?

Basically, Vision is Stark’s best idea of Artificial Intelligence, as literally embodied by Jarvis, his digital sidekick through all of his films and The Avengers. Ultron is the version of A.I. that he didn’t mean to launch and, basically, escaped.

The problem with Vision showing up at the end of the film is that we like him better than almost anyone else and we don’t get much of him. He has no chance to develop relationships with the Avenger characters. And the end of the films suggests that he never will. That’s unfortunate.

But the entire film could have been much better had Stark launched Vision from the start… then Ultron created himself from the scraps, a gag they use in the film, but much more poignant if he starts out that way… the Cain to Vision’s Abel… the younger brother with a giant chip on his shoulder. This would have also solved the motivation-for-Ultron problem. Ultron wants to destroy human life because Vision values it, not because Tony Stark made some overheard passing comment while talking to Banner. And even better, we would have seen how Vision comes of age and interacts quirkily with all of the characters we already know.

And as long as I am in a spoiler space… come on, Joss… get on with it. The audience doesn’t want to watch Banner pull a Spider-Man “I can’t have love” drama on Black Widow. They want to see them get together. This movie has more filler than Zsa Zsa Gabor’s face. (alt obscure reference: Ken-L-Ration) No one really cares about Hawkeye, much less his wife and kids… were you kidding with that? There are striking images to be mined in superhero hallucinations… but probably not five in one sitting. Too much!

And one last thing… the Hulk/Iron Man fight ending… no.




We would have been better off with the hour-forty version… though that isn’t true because the way the movie was structured, it can’t be cut down very easily. So we would be better off – albeit bored to tears – with the three-hour version. It was like Whedon thought about the first film and felt like it wasn’t deep enough, not realizing that its success lay in its comic book shallowness. It was just fun for audiences.

And there is fun in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But it’s like sitting through a long conversation with someone you are desperate to borrow money from… all you really want is for them to lend you the money so you can relieve whatever discomfort that money will fix. But they need to tell you about why you shouldn’t be borrowing money and how important it is to be responsible like they are, etc, etc, etc. You just want Hulk to smash Loki again.

But alas, the grasp is beyond the reach.

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64 Responses to “Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron (1 marked spoiler… at the end)”

  1. MarkVH says:

    So it’s sounding like Whedon’s best movie is still the one he shot in his backyard, in black-and-white, with the people who talk funny.

  2. PTA Fluffer says:

    I think Evans and Renner’s slut-shaming of Black Widow is going to knock literally tens of dollars off the movie’s first weekend haul. How will Marvel/Disney recover?

  3. EtGuild2 says:

    You know things have gone too far when a movie that might break the record for opening weekend feels like filler before several other movies (Civil War, Infinity War)…which I suspect might feel like filler when they debut. As you allude to, no one really gives a f*ck about the supporting players other than Black Widow, so when the outcome for everyone is pre-ordained, it dampens everything.

    Aside from DEADPOOL, GUARDIANS 2 and possibly WONDER WOMAN (due to morbid curiosity), I’m not the least bit interested any more. Maybe CIVIL WAR will change that, but IM3, THOR 2 and CAP 2 was so much spinning of wheels (like ULTRON) that it would be surprising at this point.

    BTW, when is the Deppish backlash coming for RDJ? With two exceptions (his glorified “Chef” cameo doesn’t count), he has filmed the same two characters for eight years. 8 years! “The Judge” will most likely be his only exception in a 6 year span. Not to mention his dickishness has reached epic proportions. Enough already.

  4. Hallick says:

    “BTW, when is the Deppish backlash coming for RDJ? With two exceptions (his glorified “Chef” cameo doesn’t count), he has filmed the same two characters for eight years.”

    It didn’t arrive with “Iron Man 2” and “Sherlock Holmes 2”? To be fair for the record though, I do count four exceptions in the last eight years (The Soloist, Tropic Thunder, Due Date, The Judge).

  5. EtGuild2 says:

    I’m being forward looking…CIVIL WAR is entering production, he has nothing else in the pipeline, and it seems unlikely he will shoot anything before the campaign for the next one winds down in a year.

    If there’s been a backlash, it definitely hasn’t reached critical mass. The way he’s strutting around his junkets like a peacock in heat is getting really aggravating.

  6. Hallick says:

    It would be nice to see his playful side again someday, but I wonder if he associates that part of himself with the chemical dependency/jail time days gone by.

  7. Vaus says:

    My major thought after seeing Avengers:AoU was the lack of fun.
    As usual I was impressed by a Marvel movie as always there was a degree of difficulty making a movie of the source characters. In this case, it was having so many existing characters and introducing new ones.
    Unlike the first Avengers, I would not recommended it for children under 12 years.

  8. Michael Mayo says:

    Interesting idea about the Vision, but I’m not sure it would have worked since he clearly outclasses everyone else and I’m not sure Marvel is even going to know what to do with him. Glad Bettany finally got a huge money role though. I’d personally find a way to stick him in the next “Guardians” since space is really the only place big enough to test his powers and the Guardians are going to be the only characters who would take him in stride and even try to take him down a peg or two…

  9. Asian says:

    I love USA too much, so I will like the film no matter what.

  10. MAGGA says:

    “Unlike the first Avengers, I would not recommended it for children under 12 years”

    That’s the target audience, no? I loved me some superhero stuff at that age

  11. JS Partisan says:

    I get having a case of “DON’T GIVE A FUCK” about these movies for you David, because it’s been obvious since Iron Man! Nevertheless, the Marvel properties, are the few properties, that actually get me excited these days.

    Also, Scarlet Witch is one of the strongest characters in the Marvel universe, so her powers are always wonky as shit. She did, after all, end all of mutant kind for a while.

    The whole shallowness bit, David, is why these movies really aren’t for you. The core of all comics these days (FREE COMIC BOOK DAY NEXT SATURDAY – VISIT YOUR LOCAL STORES AND GET FREE STUFF!) is rarely, if ever, shallow.

    Oh yeah: Phase 3 is really the end of this ten year experiment, then Phase 4 begins the reconstruction. These films are only obligatory. If you think, that you have to watch them all. If you did see them all and the Ocean’s Trilogy, then you will get why some characters from those other movies do not show up. “Where’s Tess?” “IT’S NOT THEIR FIGHT.” There you go. Have a nice day.

  12. Cory says:

    Best review of ULTRON I’ve read yet. Pretty much mirrors my thoughts on the film as well, especially your assessment on VISION.

    He’s the most awesome aspect of this film, tenfold and it’s shocking how little we get of him. Did they not know during production how fascinating this character was?

    I mean, besides Steve Rogers, I want VISION to have his own solo film. Missed opportunity that might get fixed in whatever film he appears in next but like you said David, they might not know what to do with him.

  13. J says:

    People really need to stop bitching at everything, this movie will be amazing.

  14. LYT says:

    First time for everything:

    I actually agree with DP on a comic-book/superhero movie. I am as shocked as anybody.

  15. leahnz says:

    this movie does seems like a case of whedon the writer letting down whedon the director with ‘too-much-cowbell syndrome’ (TMCBS), indulging his weaknesses as a film-maker rather than playing to his (relative) strengths — so much going on, messy, uneven and repetitive with misplaced focus on stuff that’s not very interesting while leaving the likes of ———- spoilers ———- ‘vision’, as DP outlined, actually an intriguing concept, really underdeveloped. i took my cadre of teens to it and they liked it fine, but it was no big thang. i didn’t dislike it but felt like i needed one of those Lemmons from TWoWS afterwards, maybe i’m getting that thing where they warn you about flashing images can give you a seizure.

    (is it a case of whedon having too much carte blanche now, seemingly too far up his own ass so that he’s lost perspective and freshness — weirdly this made me think of the unrelated discussion in another thread of film-makers who write their own films and how advantageous – or not – it is to creating a strong, coherent vision; kind of brings to mind blomkamp as well, whose writing has become increasingly insipid with each project, dragging down his directorial flair; sometimes being your own writer can have pitfalls, especially if there’s seemingly nobody there to offer a constructive, ‘hey, i like your style and energy but this is mental and could use some cleaning-up and sharper focus on fewer things’, but i guess nothing can make someone listen when they’re quite enamoured of themselves and the control they’re given)

  16. Hcat says:

    “Liked it fine but it was no big thang”

    That sentiment right there is exactly what I have taken from all the marvel movies and what I fully expect when I get around (if I do) to Ultron. And it’s not just a genre thing, I completely dug days of future past last year, and went nuts over the apes. But Disney knows the film they want to make and pitch them all at the same frantic POTC frequency of frantic action punctured with light comedy and a requisite sense of awe and in the hopes that you confuse exhaustion with elation. I have no doubt that however you feel about Ultron is how you will feel about Star Wars, because while they can deliver various degrees of bad (Alice, from) they can never seem to reach the near perfect. All they can churn out are the Roger Moore Bonds.

  17. leahnz says:

    just a caveat to say that had ‘ultron’ not been part of a birthday thing with a group ticket for which i helped out another parent, i wouldn’t have gone out to see it, probably not at all. i couldn’t care less.

    the tone is so predictable, though this one has a few darker moments – whedon seemed to be trying to add a couple notes but it’s just so overstuffed and trying so hard to do way too much it bogs itself down and none of it stuck for me, there’s nothing that feels remotely organic about it (which seems a ‘duh’ thing to say about such repetitive comic silliness – WHEN WILL IT DIE ALREADY, DIE DIE DIE! – but for instance i’m also a fan of the ‘Apes’ series thus far, and though clearly a very different beast in terms of style it’s still the end of the world with talking apes, and yet silver/jaffa, wyatt/reeves, the cast and crew/weta dig have managed to keep it bound in a relatively earthy, organic sensibility that gets me to thinking a bit about the ‘human’ condition, at least how hate-filled assholes just ruin everything basically, and i appreciate that)

    this is why i kind of love it when someone has the gall to take a 90degree turn with their series and go completely off the reservation into weirdsville, like chris carter with that last ‘x files: i want to believe’ movie, with the ——————- spoilers ————- pedo priest and body parts transplantation and mulder and scully rowing out to sea together at the end, i love walking out of the theatre just all ‘WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT?’ haha (i realise i may be like only 1 of 3 people who dug that movie and i wouldn’t like to mount some defence of it as great cinema but damn, some points for sheer idgaf audacity for the x-files team)

  18. Jeph says:


    It’s not shallow enough?

    I see. Ok. Carry on.

  19. Payne by name says:

    Good review.

    Whilst I enjoyed the film, it didn’t feel as much like a Whedon film and more like he was maybe allowed a few minutes here and a few minutes there before he had to return to being on the path that was laid out for him.

    The film had a very much tick box, direct by committee feel to it.

    Make sure there are this many new characters, ram in some interaction even if it doesn’t feel organic, ensure that we put in irrelevant scenes only to provide links for future films, don’t stray from the plan.

    The mid credits scene only re-inforced this and reminded you that the film you just watched was really nothing more than a filler.

    There was masses going on and loads of new characters but it just felt that it was going at 100mph and didn’t want to stop and smell the roses.

    I can understand why Joss would want to step away from this for a bit and that maybe the slightly more easily manipulated Russo brothers could take the reins for A:IW 1 & 2.

    They demonstrated that they can direct action scenes that fulfill the ‘wouldn’t it be cool if we…’ but then when trapped in a story telling dead end just go with a hole in the ground get out of jail card.

    The film was entertaining, there was plenty of cool tech on display and it was certainly worth the price of admission. However, I don’t think (in my opinion) that it was better than the first Avengers or Guardians.

  20. David Poland says:

    Jeph… I would be okay with “not deep enough,” but the attempts at depth fail in this film to a degree that more would not seem like an option.

    Whedon is completely capable of delivering the more fun, more shallow version of this material. I don’t think he could deliver the deep version (which I would love and Marvel would certainly never make).

  21. William Danveilleur says:

    Just got home from one of the national advance preview screenings of Avengers/Ultron. The critic is 100% correct. In fact, I’ll go him one or two better. The movie is a total bore. It’s all filler. Two many superheroes doing nothing. Another thing, the movie looks cheaply made. The lighting is either too harsh or too dim. Was there an actual story? It seemed like the first Avengers film only not as much fun.

  22. Dr Wally Rises says:

    My take, by the by, was that the movie reeked of ‘been there, done that’. I just wonder if Whedon, though he’ll go along with the party line in public, was kept on a tighter corporate leash than he was comfortable with. Usually when a director serves up a megahit, they’re allowed the freedom to experiment a bit more with the sequel. You want a for instance? Batman Returns or The Lost World. For better or worse Batman Returns is a far more idiosyncratic and recognizably Tim Burton movie than Batman. With The Lost World, for all it’s problems (many of which were down to Spielberg reconstituting the entire last act of the film at the eleventh hour),it is at least a far darker and more atmospheric film than Jurassic Park in its visual texture. Ultron just feels boilerplate.

  23. leahnz says:

    thinking about it (for a nanosecond anyway), i got the impression whedon was trying for something darker and more idiosyncratic in ultron with the whole
    —————- SPOILERS —————-
    stark-as-frankenstein-who-creates-a-monster AI scenario, which had intriguing possibilities, but once again a complete lack of imaginative storytelling rears its head.
    honestly, was there an edict at some point — i’m thinking it began with the first ‘transformers’ flick and then really took hold in earnest with the sequel, the one with the pristine white duck lady, was that the 3rd one? with the mega-carnage destruction of the city with the autobots-v-decepticons battle — wherein after seeing that the concept of city destruction was in a movie or two that made a shitload of money, so it was decreed by the braintrust that the only peril to humanity allowed to be depicted in any big flick was the very literal destruction of buildings, SO IT IS ORDERED!
    frustrating considering such fertile conceptual possibilities for an AI bent on the destruction of humanity, how many terrific ways that could be depicted, and yet the best anyone can come up with is yet another incarnation of the ‘battle destroys buildings’ over and over and over again… in a way it kind of excruciatingly sums up this era of pre-existing ‘brand’ film-making perfectly. hopefully future film historians will look back on this era with a confounded shake of the head and baffled bemusement when they teach about the ‘Post-2000 City Destroyed!’ cinema movement (and as is often the case in academia, look to ascribe meaning to it – a metaphor for our proclivity for self-destruction? social commentary on urban decay? – where non exists beyond dullards copying other dullards because they’re too scared or dumb to tap into the wondrous power of the human imagination 🙁 )

  24. EtGuild2 says:

    Whedon’s exhaustion is palpable in the very lengthy interview he gave to Buzzfeed that I believe was quoted on the sidebar recently. It really must be odd going from the quintessential nerd’s nerd whose freewheeling TV serieses defined 90s/00s cult devotion to (almost certainly) having directed two of the four highest grossing movies ever based on adhering to a corporate outline.

    On the other hand, he’ll finally have the opportunity to do what he pleases. Hell, he could actually re-launch “Firefly” now if he wanted to.

    A thought on box office: will the long knives come out if this fails to break $200 million opening weekend, and/or fails to top $600 million domestic and/or top FURIOUS 7 overseas? It’s telling that Disney quoted the 44% improvement over AVENGERS in local currencies, because that might imply that (with the 25% strengthening of the dollar since AVENGERS) it opened behind FURIOUS in those markets…so we might find out. As incredibly insane and stupid as that notion is.

    Btw…the officially acknowledged budget on this baby is $280 million, which is the 2nd highest official figure ever behind Pirates 4 (3rd overall behind the rumored to be wild overruns on Pirates 3, a shitty movie that still looks on the cutting edge technically 8 years later having flipped it on cable). It also means that, if you count “Tangled,” which they made twice, Disney has released the five most expensive movies ever made. They also acknowledged, quietly back in their earnings report, the cost of GUARDIANS was close to $200 million, much higher than reported initially.

  25. Ryan says:

    Would be interesting to find out what the profitability breakdown is on a movie like Avengers 2 after all costs (including back end for those lucky enough to reap the rewards from re-signed deals).

    I watched an illegal copy of the film because I can’t muster up any excitement to go to the theater to see the same effects over and over. Wasn’t exactly floored or underwhelmed-seemed like it was exactly what I thought it would be.

    In other news, when did RDJ become the biggest d-bag in Hollywood? Coming off his comments about reporters and also performing in independent films, he easily carries the crown. What an asshole to forget that 12 years ago his buddy Mel Gibson (oh the role reversals-only in Hollywood) had to pay his insurance bond to get him a comeback vehicle with The Singing Detective, and before Iron Man his biggest comeback movie was The Shaggy Dog. How quickly we forget our past sins..

  26. Martin says:

    Very good review, Poland.

    AoU never had a chance of being anything other than predictable. Ultron’s always been a godawful character and whatever originality it had, Terminator owned thirty years ago.

    Witch and Quicksilver were repurposed backups in the 60’s, terrible choices today.

    It’s pretty obvious Whedon was talked into fusing Age of Ultron into what he really wanted to do, which was the Wonder Man storyline.

  27. Hcat says:

    As bad as the true believer fanboys are, Ryan you are even more obnoxious. Can’t get excited for a film? Than be an adult and fucking skip it. Don’t rationalize with ‘well I wasn’t going to give them my money anyway’ or ‘ if they want me to pay for it they should make a better movie.’ Watching it online means your just as susceptible to the hype the dork sitting in the theater wearing his hulk hands for opening night.

  28. palmtree says:

    Ryan, buy a ticket otherwise you’re the d-bag. Glass houses.

  29. Ryan says:

    Ok, I’m a d-bag. I’ll never criticize anything that I haven’t paid for again. Didn’t realize I was the only person who has ever watched pirated movies before. I must be single-handedly bringing down the studio system. Also, I’ll make sure never to read magazines in a waiting room and think “Now I know why I don’t subscribe to this.” Or read a newspaper that someone left in the breakroom and criticize one of the opinion columns. I’ll also make sure to start checking the voter rolls to verify that every person I meet who has an opinion on politics actually voted (I’m sure they’re among they’re all among the 25-50% of Americans who vote in various elections, or else they would be too ashamed to have opinions). For the record-I sincerely apologize to Disney that they didn’t get my $7.50.

  30. JS Partisan says:

    It’s very much a Whedon film, it’s an amazing film, and it’s the best Marvel movie to date. These movies seem to stratify some groups of people online, but David has never really enjoyed these movies. Does it make him less? No. These movies just play to some people’s wheelhouses, and I am one of those people. This goes for Shield and Daredevil. You either are in sync with what Marvel wants, or it seems to just not work.

    I adore this movie though, and look forward to find what place Scott Lang has in this world. It should be fascinating, or completely fucking frustrating for some people!

  31. Hcat says:


    Still rationalizing, the big monolithic corporation surely doesn’t need your few dollars, look the system is still standing. The magazine you read in th drs office has been paid for, the newspaper on the subway was paid for, you didn’t happen upon some discarded piece of media, you swiped the newspaper when the clerk wasn’t looking. And why because you want inclusion, you didn’t want to pay but still want to bitch to your friends about how silly it all was. Well the price of inclusion is the price of admission and no amount of deflection (Disney doesn’t deserve my money) changes the act that you did a crappy thing and then announced it in the wrong place

  32. JS Partisan says:

    Hcat, it would be great if the world works that way, but there’s new doors open to people. Are they good doors? No, but they are doors. Why anyone would go, “Hey! I watched a pirated copy,” outside of Barbershop. If you read his posts though. I’m more fascinated for what gets him excited for film, then what films he watches pirated online.

  33. Ryan says:

    The magazine in the doctors office is paid for with one subscription fee, and it is read by 100 people who might otherwise buy it. Same thing with the newspaper. So by piggybacking off them, you’re doing the same thing that I did by watching a pirated copy of a movie that somebody paid for so they could videotape it. It has nothing to do with a ‘screw mass corporations’ mentality. I’ve borrowed books that my friends have paid for instead of buying my own copy. Am I not allowed to have an opinion on the book because I didn’t buy it?

    I didn’t claim moral superiority ever, so I don’t really understand what you’re bitching about. I’m also positive that everyone on this blog who miraculously attends ‘advance free screenings’ so they can post reviews of movies before they come out is telling the truth. Shame I’ve lived in DC, Chicago, and Minneapolis, and have never heard of or been invited to one of these awesome ‘free advance screenings’.

  34. JS Partisan says:

    Ryan, they used to advertises them in the back of EW’s for years. Maybe if you had a doctor that had a EW subscription, you would have gone to one years ago :D!

  35. amblinman says:

    The film was meh. Whedon still can’t make a movie that looks like a movie, he’s definitely a teevee guy. Hated both the writing and physical depiction of Ultron. I get that he’s supposed to be the “child” of Stark but the snarkiness came across as playing to the room a little too much. His design was too bulky. He looked like a He-Man villain. This round, the Hulk was also a complete dud. Also hate that Downey is now too expensive to ever appear on film as Iron Man, we constantly have to see his face. The film did a pretty terrible job of even explaining what it is The Vision can do. If you’re not a Marvel fan you probably had no idea what the hubbub is supposed to be. Ditto Scarlet Witch, who just flat out sucks anyway both comic and film.

    Otherwise it was serviceable. I actually liked it when everything slowed down in the middle, and I thought Ultron’s means of trying to wipe out the planet was fairly cool and unique.

  36. JS Partisan says:

    Wanda Maximoff, is one of the greatest characters in all of Marvel. HOW DARE YOU IMPUNE HER CHARACTER, SIR!?!?

  37. amblinman says:

    Ohhh, I dare plenty.

    Although Elizabeth Olsen. Damn, that woman.

    Or Damn that woman.

  38. EtGuild2 says:

    I’m surprised you liked it THAT much Partisan. Most of the Marvel fans I know really liked it, but generally agree it was inferior to last year’s two movies (I liked it better than Winter Soldier…but Guardians, no way) and the first Avengers. This is the feeling I get from Marvel fans:

    1. Guardians
    2. Iron Man
    3. Avengers
    4. Winter Soldier
    5. Ultron/Cap 1

    But maybe I know weird people.

  39. Hcat says:

    Can’t believe I am spending the time to respond but no Ryan your downloading is not piggybacking. I buy a book I own that physical book and can loan it to whomever I want, but I cannot transcribe it onto the web or make 200 copies and hand them out to everyone I pass.

    And I was in dc for over a decade and went to plenty of advanced screenings at the landmark, and even the bigger releases did screenings through radio stations, you are not just on the right email lists. Or the fact that a fair number of the posters you reference have press passes of some sort, but no matter you wanted something but didn’t want to pay for it so you just took it. It’s just a petty crime, and that’s all I’m pointing out that its petty.

  40. Hcat says:

    Just out of curiosity JS where how do you compare this to the marvel properties done by others. I would say Spider-Man 2 still holds the crown but do you consider these company produced ones more pure and therefore superior?

  41. Bulldog68 says:

    “The magazine in the doctors office is paid for with one subscription fee, and it is read by 100 people who might otherwise buy it. Same thing with the newspaper. So by piggybacking off them, you’re doing the same thing that I did by watching a pirated copy of a movie that somebody paid for so they could videotape it.”

    Total and utter bullshit. That copy you downloaded was illegally obtained. So the equivalent would be that somebody photocopied a book and then gave you a copy.

  42. EtGuild2 says:

    I’m not JS, but X2 and DOFP are superior to any of the “Spider-Man” films for me…but that’s definitely a minority viewpoint.

    Also, I can’t emphasize how insane Fox is to attempt to release 4 superhero movies in 14 months. And 6 in 23 months.

  43. JS Partisan says:

    Hcat, I enjoyed Spidey 2 at the time. Now? It’s terrible. It’s everything, that a Spider-man movie should never be about, and what’s worse? It wasted Alfred Molina in a terrible adaptation of Doc Ock. Any movie that’s not Marvel, even the last two X-men, are inferior to anything Marvel makes. The FF movie looks good, but it will have that not quite Marvel sheen. It’s a real thing, and why FOX should just make Ike happy.

    Outside of that. Ethan, I really love Guardians, but Winter Solider is just uneven on a lot of levels. The Hydra reveal is awesome, but it’s fucking rushed. It also, should have been treated like the Infinity Stones. it should have been hiding in plain sight, so the reveal is shocking. It just didn’t work as well on the big screen, as it did on SHIELD.

    If I had to list them:

    Avengers 2
    Iron Man
    Iron Man 3

    Yes. I really dig the Iron Man movies, but I should put Avengers in the five spot, because Iron Man 3 is not as effective without that movie.

  44. Hcat says:

    I’m skeptical based on the trailer but still hold out hope that fox will get FF right this time. They seem to be able to right the ship on properties that have slipped in quality (apes, x-men, and even though Predators didn’t set the world on fire it was a ton of fun). Plus the earnest sci fi that fox used to put out seemed to be a strong influence on early marvel in general and especially FF. There is more than a little Day the Earth stood still, invaders from Mars and the Fly pulsing through the Fours DNA, and it seems like their natural home.

  45. JS Partisan says:

    I like the cast of the new FF, so I hope they are giving a film worth a damn. Seeing as Kinsberg was very happy to let Trank leave a Star Wars film, due to their work on FF. Doesn’t exactly scream, “QUALITY MOVIE.”

  46. EtGuild2 says:

    I agree with you about WINTER SOLDIER, and really enjoy IRON MAN 3 as well.

    The pedigree behind FF is really good, but I’m a bit worried about all the controversy swirling around Trank that supposedly led to him departing “Star Wars.”

  47. Amblinman says:

    “The FF movie looks good, but it will have that not quite Marvel sheen. ” Correct, it looks like an actual movie vs an episode of Agents of SHIELD.

    Trank is supposedly a gigantic headache as a person. Hopefully it’s not a thing that interferes with his talent. His problem is he’s working on giant corporate marketing exercises instead of films so that kind of behavior isn’t gonna cut it. Too many theme park rides hang in the balance.

  48. leahnz says:

    his ‘talent’? good grief trank, another ‘golden boy’ given big opportunity, bucks and franchise flicks after having directed virtually nothing (a few eps of bad tv and ‘chronicle’ isn’t without its virtues and refreshingly low key effects, but mostly it’s dahaan who makes it work with his pathos, otherwise the movie’s fairly dorky and student film one-note, certainly not especially well-written – but hey give the lad a few hundred million now to make some huge franchise movies! blech, this is what it’s come to – fuck trank, go learn your art and struggle like so many others have to, don’t worry you’ll still be a white boy when you learn what you’re doing and get hired over much better directors later on)

    this thread is kind of annoying for making me think about this/these stupid movies more than they deserve (by a longshot), but i think their mostly shiny bland puffball innocuousness offends me so because, what a waste, such disturbing lack of subversive social commentary in a genre that’s so ripe for it, such missed opportunity to say something pointed about the times we live in (which are pretty volatile and changing) while delivering the superhero rock em sock em, it’s just such silly nonsense mostly, where’s the weirdness and gall and satire, where’s the connection to the humanity these ridiculous people in costumes are supposedly fighting for, what is all this superhero bullshit for? SAY SOMETHING (i like that shane black at least turned the ‘scary terrorist’ trope on its head with the hilarious kingsley bit in IM3, something at least, there are little glimpses of it here and there, so frustrating, it doesn’t make any sense how bland these movies are — it’s ‘the blandening’, like a real-life ‘the nothing’ from ‘the never ending story’ coming over like a fog, scary)

  49. JS Partisan says:

    Leah, Age of Ultron is all about the cost of war, and how that effects people. There’s a ton of social commentary in these movies. If you want to think they are as stupid as Transformers, then go right ahead. It’s just not the case.

    Oh Amblin.

  50. leahnz says:

    except JF Sebastian, ‘the cost of war’ is an old trope and just another cliché in these movies, it’s not a theme that’s explored subversively or from a fresh perspective (that the genre theoretically offers), and there is actually no effort to explore the effect of all the weird shit that goes on on humanity at all, there’s virtually no time spent on the people of earth, just ants in the farm

  51. Bulldog68 says:

    Re what Leah said. That’s what I like about the Xmen series, it’s about them and us.

    Obviously Leah I still enjoy the Avengers more than you but you’re right about the insular nature of the series in that any real world impact on events are totally brushed.

    I don’t see any commentary or scene that shows the “cost of war and how it affects people” that you mentioned JS. And while I know that Man of Steel is more or less hated in these parts, at least the subject of earth’s contact with an alien being and the fact that bone has been living amongst us for years was addressed in some way.

    There is no representation of “us” in the Avengers movies. We are mere spectators while they fight it out. It’s shiny, adrenaline pumping, and the Hulk vs Hulk Buster scene is worth the price of admission for any action junkie, and yes, there is that side of me that likes a good rock em sock em scene.

    But among comic book movies, Marvel and otherwise, I’ll take Xmen, X-Men 2, Spiderman 2, Days of Future Past, TDK, Ironman, and yes, heaven forbid, Man of Steel. And yes JS, I can like Man of Steel and Avengers at the same time.

  52. JS Partisan says:

    Leah, it’s like five years of not referring to my ACTUAL NAME! The J and the S… real initials, but keep carrying this bit on. Here we go with BREAKDOWN!

    “except JF Sebastian, ‘the cost of war’ is an old trope and just another cliché in these movies,”

    The Maximoffs are the reprucssions of the wars, that Tony’s products did all over that world. I live in a country with an endless war, and this isn’t a trope. It’s something that keeps going, and these movies are heavily influenced by the effects of Afghanistan War on this country. Tony Stark, is basically the military industrial complex, that decides to save humanity instead of make bank off of it.

    “it’s not a theme that’s explored subversively or from a fresh perspective (that the genre theoretically offers), and there is actually no effort to explore the effect of all the weird shit that goes on on humanity at all, there’s virtually no time spent on the people of earth, just ants in the farm.”

    They are gods. That’s the point. They are gods, that care about humanity, and want to save it at any cost. They basically, are fighting for people like Clint Burton. He is us. Watch some Buffy, get to know Xander Harris, and you will see the correlation. Whateverthecase, this is a world that deals with war, the cost of war, and what it means to be a hero in this world more than any superhero film series ever will.

  53. JS Partisan says:

    One more BREAKDOWN:

    “Re what Leah said. That’s what I like about the Xmen series, it’s about them and us.”

    No. It’s not. That’s not even close to what those movies are about. They are about consolidation or domination, and the fight between Chuck and Mags. Chuck, believes he’s a part of us. Mags, likes to thinks he’s better.

    “Obviously Leah I still enjoy the Avengers more than you but you’re right about the insular nature of the series in that any real world impact on events are totally brushed.”

    It’s not insular though. There’s a show called Shield and a show called Daredevil, that deal with the effects of these actions on the characters, but this is a world that has been created where PEOPLE ACCEPT THERE ARE HEROES! We accept, that there is a big green guy, who is a hero, that saves the world. This isn’t the bullshit that DC is selling, where everyone questions everything. The Marvel world, is a world of acceptance, and a world where people are smart enough to know the world has changed… a lot, and they have to live in that new world.

    “I don’t see any commentary or scene that shows the “cost of war and how it affects people” that you mentioned JS.”

    Pietro’s story about the shell, Ultron explaining his reasoning for everything, and Tony expressing his reasoning for why he wants to shield the world. It’s right there on screen.

    “And while I know that Man of Steel is more or less hated in these parts, at least the subject of earth’s contact with an alien being and the fact that bone has been living amongst us for years was addressed in some way.”

    It was addressed in a shit way, because DC is about fear. Marvel is about hope. The MCU has people in it, that believe in their heroes. The DCU? They are afraid, and that’s why that world means very little to me.

    “There is no representation of “us” in the Avengers movies.”


    “We are mere spectators while they fight it out. It’s shiny, adrenaline pumping, and the Hulk vs Hulk Buster scene is worth the price of admission for any action junkie, and yes, there is that side of me that likes a good rock em sock em scene.”

    Very true, about the use of Veronica.

    “But among comic book movies, Marvel and otherwise, I’ll take Xmen, X-Men 2, Spiderman 2, Days of Future Past, TDK, Ironman, and yes, heaven forbid, Man of Steel. And yes JS, I can like Man of Steel and Avengers at the same time.”

    Bulldog, you can like whatever you like. Why would I care? You don’t need my validation what so ever. I would not take any of those non Marvel Studios movies, except for TDK and TDKR. Nevertheless, I am in awe of the beauty and the majesty of Ultron, and can’t wait to pay to see it again :D!

  54. David Poland says:

    “You see, the subtext of Despicable Me is all about the cold war. Gru is a product of the Communist effort in Eastern Europe. But when he find the love of children, this is the filmmaker’s way of telling us that although communism is the superior philosophy, the childlike love of Capitalism is more fun.”


  55. David Poland says:

    The reason people loved Avengers is that it was a bunch of characters they liked and then Hulk was actually fun.

    Avengers 2 is like a high schooler who wants to have a serious conversation about the meaning of life, but can’t stop looking at himself in the mirror.

  56. Amblinman says:

    “The reason people loved Avengers is that it was a bunch of characters they liked and then Hulk was actually fun.”

    Spot. Fucking. On.

  57. Bulldog68 says:

    I second Dave’s motion your honor.

  58. palmtree says:

    “I didn’t claim moral superiority ever”

    You called RDJ a d-bag. So again, yes, you did. End of Line.

  59. JS Partisan says:

    It’s more fun than the original Avengers, and it builds on the question, “What happens, when you save the world?” This is all leading to Tony being the man, and fucking up spectacularly. Also, if these movies are high schoolers, David. You dislike both of them.

  60. Amblinman says:

    BTW, how come Whedon’s delicate feminist sensibilities weren’t screaming at his movie including the fucking Black Widow as both a damsel in distress needing to be saved from Ultron’s jail and a “monster” because she can’t have kids. I guess the 70’s era sexism from that Jurassic clip went viral.

  61. JS Partisan says:

    She claims she is a monster, because she was sterilized to make killing people easier. Widow being captured by Ultron, may be a loose thread to the Ultron viewing her as some sort of mother figure, and wanting to show to a woman, in particular, that he is the baddest of the bad. Everything with Ultron is pure id and ego. It fits.

  62. Tracker Backer says:

    JS, I promise you, you’re giving these movies far more depth than their creators and producers ever intended.

  63. amblinman says:

    Ohhh SHE claims she’s a monster…so, like, no one wrote that sequence or dialogue for her? This was actually a documentary?

    And who cares what Ultron’s motive was? The point is this badass, resourceful, dangerous member of the team suddenly sits around in a jail cell waiting for a dude to show up and rescue her.

    You’re just making shit up that isn’t in the movie. It’s not a deeply written piece of fiction, you’re just trying to prove a puddle is actually still waters.

  64. Christian says:

    No, JS, this one is in no way as fun or dynamic as the previous. That’s just objectively not correct — there was nothing that had the audience response of Hulk beating down Loki. The best moments are actual rehashes from the previous. And I swear to God, is there one person on Planet Earth that thinks CG buildings falling again and again and again is awesome to watch? Enough!

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon