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06 May 2016 @ 12:03 pm
Film Reviews: Age of Ultron & Ant-Man  
I figured I should catch up on the last couple of Marvel movies I'd missed to prep myself for Captain America 3: Civil War. And judging by the reviews of Cap 3, it sounds like that was a wise choice since that movie's got a bundle of characters from Age of Ultron and Ant-Man.


I have a confession to make: I didn't like the first Avengers movie. I defintely liked parts of it. But as an overall film it dragged for me and I had really wanted the film to focus more on character relationships (e.g. Thor and Loki) than just give us things smashing together. So, I went into Age of Ultron feeling a little resigned that it might be more of the same. And actually this movie, I think, was trying to do more character studies with the separate visions everyone had under Scarlet Witch's influence as well as the reveal about Clint's secret family and why Tony created Ultron in the first place. I'll start with Tony because his was the character I had the most difficulty grappling with the further the movie went on. His early vision of all his friends dying and Steve specifically saying he could have done more is a vision that makes so much sense in the context of Tony's PTSD and his general history of not having the family he wanted. It's also ties in so heavily to the Stark legacy which Tony is trying to change. So this moment spear-heading his decision to create Ultron all made sense. I wasn't even mad when it all went predictably sideways and unleashed unholy terror upon the world.

However, I did start to feel slightly annoyed at the general lack of apology coming from Tony. He doesn't need to throw himself down at anyone's feet but it grated me just a bit that he'd still make somewhat insulting quips toward other people's suggestions about how to handle Ultron when he was the very cause of this nightmare. Also, I think everyone else had the right to be a bit pissed off that Tony did this without really consulting anyone. Particularly since the sceptre and its power is unknown to him and that's kind of Thor's area. I don't know. I didn't necessarily want Tony to go completely mea culpa but he can't expect the team to just go with whatever his next plans are when he locked the team out of the very thing that's caused all the problems. I also see how this whole Ultron debacle is what'll set Tony up for his stance in Civil War. And granted, he makes a very good point that there needs to be more overview of their actions. However, he speaks as someone who has in the past royally messed up by accident so it makes sense that he feels he may need a governing body to control him. This is contrast to Steve, who above all I think trusts his own moral compass to know when he's doing something Right and not what a government as deemed right.

So moving onto Steve for a second. The vision he got was interesting. I wasn't completely clear if everyone's was automatically what they feared the most or what they found the most painful. But in either context, I think Steve's vision makes sense. I've always liked how the Marvel films that involve Captain America place him as a man who struggles with what his life means if he's not fighting. Events of the 2nd Cap movie made you wonder if Steve is a man so out of time that if he could just go back to the 1940s, things might be okay. But his vision seems to suggest it's not the time issue, it's a peace time issue. He looked kind of at a loss when dream!Peggy told him the war was over and he could come home and have that dance with her. And while that was a nice fantasy, I think a part of Steve wonders if he could be the person he was before he went into the ice, if given the chance. What the writers do with Steve feels like a better version of what I think writers are sometimes trying to do with Matt Murdock in that they are both men fighting with the idea of a higher cause but each conflict pulls them potentially further away from the very things they're trying to protect. It's just that Steve deals with it by going toward the things he values while Matt runs away.

The Bruce/Natasha thing....I wasn't sure about it. I'm still not sure about it. I liked their pairing but I wasn't really on board the personal conflicts it stirred up for each of them. Mainly because Bruce's was obvious and Natasha's was also obvious and kind of cliched for me. The way they tied that off just felt so motivated by Mark Ruffalo's contract running out in that it didn't really make sense to me on a character level.

And I'm sad we lost JARVIS. We have FRIDAY now which is fine. But I'll miss JARVIS in his pure form as he's now integrated into Vision.

So my overall feelings of Age of Ultron was that I liked it more than the first Avengers movie but after seeing it, I'm a bit nervous about how much those loose ends will have to get tied up in Captain America: Civil War, which makes that film a 3rd Avengers movie rather than a Cap movie. But I'll hold out on those thoughts until I actually see it.



Many people I know gave me the impression that I should lower my expectations for Ant-Man. And to those people, I say, why would you say that? This movie was so much fun! Most of that was thanks to Paul Rudd who was awesome in this role. He was such a great blend of lighthearted comedy and semi-seriousness that never went too far. I also liked how the tone of the movie remained pretty light, despite some fairly large stakes. Also, the small scale nature of the hero and villain, at times, made it so that entire cities didn't have to fall during their fights which I appreciated. Yes, some buildings got destroyed but actually, a lot of those explosions were planned so that also felt nice after watching the Avengers having to literally drop an entire city. Also on a continuity level, they set it up subtly of why Ant-Man would be on Team Cap for Civil War, given Hank Pym's distrust of the Stark family.

I thought that the fact Ant-Man shrinks would make for kind of a lame superhero. Man, was I wrong. I really liked how the movie integrated just how useful Ant-Man's ability to shrink and grow in rapid succession could be helpful. It also made for some pretty fun action sequences. My favorite was when he and Yellowjacket were stuck in the briefcase and still fighting. The shots of how it looked inside the case versus how it looked on the outside to regular sized people was pretty great. As was the final fight in Cassie's, Scott's daughter, room. When her Thomas the Tank Engine became supersized, I nearly spat up the water I was drinking. I also liked that Paxton, the stepfather to Cassie, didn't end sidelined into being a complete asshole. You totally understand his dislike for Scott coming from a place of wanting to do what was best for Cassie and Maggie, rather than a pure Alpha Male move.

The only thing that annoyed me about the movie was Hope Van Dyne getting consistently side-lined by her dad about putting on the Ant-Man suit. I totally understand his paternalistic attitude (he is her dad) but that felt only resolved somewhat in the mid-credits scene of her getting her mother's old Wasp suit. It would have been nice if she could have had more of a chance to show off her own stuff rather than be there to prop up Scott all the time. But that was a minor issue in what was otherwise a fun movie.
 
 
 
aelfgyfu_mead: Winter Soldieraelfgyfu_mead on May 6th, 2016 09:36 pm (UTC)
Ant-Man mostly rubbed me the wrong way. Have you seen "How Ant-Man Should Have Ended"? I spent that whole video saying, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes." I wanted to like Scott, but I couldn't always manage it. I did like Hope the whole time, and her sidelining was a major issue for me. I do hope she'll get more to do in the next outing (assuming there is a next one).

My favorite part was probably Luis—Michael Peña made me laugh so hard! I don't think I enjoyed the movie the way I was supposed to enjoy it, but I liked his bits.

I got so annoyed at Tony in Ultron! Just like you, I thought he needed to apologize and not belittle anyone's ideas for cleaning up the terrible destruction he unleashed.

I was very ambivalent about Bruce and Natasha. I like each of them very much. I wasn't sure they worked together, and when Natasha asked if she was a monster and then the movie connected it to her inability to have children, that made me really angry. I know that's much debated: were we supposed to make that connection? Well, I did, and a lot of people did, so if we weren't supposed to, they botched it. I didn't like Scarlet Witch at all at first and then by the end, I did, which was great. But I'd also come to like Quicksilver, and I was upset they killed him off so soon.

I don't really want to see the two sides fight in Civil War. Why can't we all just get along? Why can't we all be friends? I'm sure I'll see it, but probably not for a couple of weeks (by which time someone will have managed to spoil me, though probably not on LJ, where people are much better than on social media and in real life!).
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 6th, 2016 10:39 pm (UTC)
Have you seen "How Ant-Man Should Have Ended"?

I just watched it! I totally agree the villain should have led with the goop gun. That's probably more in line with what HYDRA wants. Why bother with shrinking? Let's just murder and murder lots!! Also, the end conversation with Batman and Ant-Man was the best!

I don't really want to see the two sides fight in Civil War. Why can't we all just get along? Why can't we all be friends?

As much as I also want this, I don't see how this would be possible once Tony finds out the Winter Soldier killed his parents. After seeing how Tony handles negative feelings in Ultron, I cannot believe he's going to hear Steve out on how the murderers of his parents are Hydra, not Bucky. At least not initially. Maybe after he's got some time to cool down?

I have plans to see Civil War on Monday. I'll be sure to hide spoilers when I review!
aelfgyfu_mead: Winter Soldieraelfgyfu_mead on May 7th, 2016 01:49 am (UTC)
Wait—the Winter Soldier really did kill his parents? Dang.

Tony totally needs therapy and has for . . . ever.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 7th, 2016 01:54 am (UTC)
Wait—the Winter Soldier really did kill his parents? Dang.

In the comics he did and Cap2 heavily suggested it so...unless that was a red herring? I somehow can't believe the MCU won't follow through on this since it's primed to give Tony angst and make things even more difficult for Steve and Bucky.

Tony totally needs therapy and has for . . . ever.

Sometimes my fantasy job is to be the therapist in the MCU. Except I'd never take Loki as a client. He needs an immortal therapist.
aelfgyfu_mead: Falconaelfgyfu_mead on May 7th, 2016 01:59 am (UTC)
I guess I just didn't want it to be true.

Loki doesn't want therapy.

Then again, neither does Tony. Or Bruce. Or any of them, except possibly Sam. Sam's got his head on more or less straight. (Doubt that will last—these guys are a bad influence.)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 7th, 2016 02:03 am (UTC)
Doesn't Tony have a therapist? Or is it unofficially Bruce?

I feel bad for Sam because I think he's basically everyone's therapist when we're not seeing them in the movies. He wants to just have a beer and watch some TV but everyone at the new Avengers base wants to talk about their feelings.
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 6th, 2016 11:36 pm (UTC)
I wasn't sure they worked together, and when Natasha asked if she was a monster and then the movie connected it to her inability to have children, that made me really angry. I know that's much debated: were we supposed to make that connection?

I interpreted that as more of her regarding herself as a monster for voluntarily removing her chances for having children in order to pass the assassins' test than necessarily her feeling she's a monster because she can't have children. It's a fine line, and I'm probably giving more credit than is due, but I feel like it's more to do with her seeing what she had done to herself as monstrous, than a blanket statement that all women who choose not to have children are monsters or something. Like "I removed parts of my body so I could seduce and kill people without worrying about getting pregnant", not 'I can't get pregnant, so I'm a monster'. Bruce can't have sex, so he can't have kids, and she's saying, hey, look, I I can't have kids either, and I'm not exactly a perfect person myself.' But really awkwardly put.



Edited at 2016-05-06 11:37 pm (UTC)
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 6th, 2016 11:56 pm (UTC)
I was fairly ambivalent about Ultron, because of all the doom and gloom. I like more light-heartedness in my superhero movies. I enjoyed it, but not as much as some of the other Marvel outings. I agree that Tony was a jerk throughout, and his trying to fix his mistake by doing the same thing again only bigger this time, is very in character, but frustrating. I loved Clint's family, and thought it was super well-done, and I liked that Laura and Natasha are bros. And Tony's line of something along the lines of 'I'm sorry we haven't spoken before but we were too busy not knowing you existed' was spot on for both the character, and the random suddenness of them existing. Dad!Clint is adorable. I had a fic half-written before the Flash Drive Crash, where he and his daemon are in the midst of battle and arguing about wallpaper choices, and I like to think that Clint goes around being badass, while on the inside being more concerned about making the farm nice for his family.

It also tickled me quite a bit that the reason The Vision loves humanity enough to save it is essentially because Edwin Jarvis was a nice guy. Though, I was bummed to lose JARVIS, for sure.

I enjoyed Ant-Man as well, as a frivolous superhero movie like the kind we got before all the crossovers started. Someone described it as 'superhero mad-libs', and I see where they're coming from, but I liked the fact that there was no heavy backstory or origin, it was just 'here is an ant suit, let's save the world'. I didn't care for Hope, as she was a little too Generic Action Girl for me, and Evangeline Lily did little to make me care about her, but I do agree that her being pushed aside in favour of Scott was kind of stupid, even with Hank's reasoning.

I also really want to know when Howard stopped being Dominic Cooper and started being John Slattery, timeline-wise, because that is still a jarring thing for me. I got a kick out of how apathetic Howard was after the guy got punched by Pym. Like, 'yeah, I probably would have punched you too'.

BTW, I wrote a little super kids fic with a grownup!JJ. I hadn't written him as an adult yet, much, so I wanted to see for myself what he was like, and then I figured it might help you in your fic troubles. I put in some stuff with Steve and Nora at home, in case Elliot ends up the Rogerses in the future.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on May 7th, 2016 12:28 am (UTC)
I didn't care for Hope, as she was a little too Generic Action Girl for me, and Evangeline Lily did little to make me care about her, but I do agree that her being pushed aside in favour of Scott was kind of stupid, even with Hank's reasoning.

I think I liked the idea of Hope more than the actual execution. Which was apparently where the writers were as well because Hope felt like a collection of tropes than a real character.

Like, 'yeah, I probably would have punched you too'.

I liked his casual shrug, "Don't look at me. You said it."

I like to think that Clint goes around being badass, while on the inside being more concerned about making the farm nice for his family.

Definitely! Clint was a highlight for me in Ultron. I laughed at him drawing his bow on Quicksilver as he speeds away and muttering, "No one would know. No one would ever know..." before putting the bow away.

Yay for more SuperKids fic! I have, like, 17 ficlets in this universe half started. *SIGH*
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on May 7th, 2016 12:47 am (UTC)
I think I liked the idea of Hope more than the actual execution. Which was apparently where the writers were as well because Hope felt like a collection of tropes than a real character.

She fell into that category of Strong Female Character I hate, where she's strong because she can fight, so we don't need to give her anything else but some sass and she's good to go.

Definitely! Clint was a highlight for me in Ultron. I laughed at him drawing his bow on Quicksilver as he speeds away and muttering, "No one would know. No one would ever know..." before putting the bow away.

I liked his dedication to hiding his family while totally gorked on sedation. 'I don't have a girlfriend' in the little stoned voice is adorable in retrospect.

I have daemons for all of Clint's family. His plot was my favourite part of Ultron. I even had a ship meme for him and Laura at one point, but it was lost in the crash.


Yay for more SuperKids fic! I have, like, 17 ficlets in this universe half started. *SIGH*


Word. WORD.