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Non-Review Review: Avengers – Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a hot mess.

It is fun, witty and fast-moving. However, it is also disjointed, uneven and awkward. Age of Ultron is a big and bombastic summer blockbuster, but it feels like Marvel learned very little from The Avengers. Rather than simply taking what worked in the first film, it often seems like Age of Ultron doubles down on every part of its predecessor. There’s more action, there’s higher stakes, there’s bigger conflict, there’s more Tony, there’s even less of an idea what to do with Thor, there’s more continuity.

"Hey, at least I beat the Terminator prequel to cinemas, right?"

“Hey, at least I beat the Terminator prequel to cinemas, right?”

“More” seems to the be the word here. Age of Ultron is bigger than its predecessor in just about every way. The film boasts an ensemble so large that it threatens to collapse under its own weight – a fact perhaps wryly acknowledged by the genocidal robot’s evil plan at the climax. While it is nice to have more diversity in the cast – The Avengers are no longer a bunch of white guys and their token female colleague – it does seem like Age of Ultron strains and groans under all that Joss Whedon and Marvel heap upon it.

Bigger is not always better.

You know, "pull Thor's hammer" is probably not a family friendly party game...

You know, “pull Thor’s hammer” is probably not a family friendly party game…

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I’m A Marvel… or Am I A DC? I Can Never Tell…

I’m about half-a-year behind on this, I must confess. Back in January, the wonderful Katie over at Stories That Really Mattered asked a bunch of bloggers to come out in favour of one of the two major comic book companies, with an open invitation for other members of the community to participate. I’d like to pretend that I took so long to consider my own response because I’m cool (and cool people arrive late to the hottest parties), but the truth is I’ve just been a bit run off my feet these past few months. I was never cool, but I’ve learned to accept that.

However, in this season of blockbuster comic book movies, I thought it might be interesting to reflect on whether I am a bigger fan of Marvel, or DC. Given how close both are to my heart, expect a fair bit of waffle. Okay, a bit morewaffle than usual.

Let's not cloud the issue...

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Aaronofsky to Wrestle “The Wolverine”: Are Independent Directors the Best Choices for Superhero Cinema?

I’m going to be honest, I like it when relatively obscure film directors are handed the reigns to huge blockbuster properties. It seems that these “cult” film makers tend to bring something fresh from outside the studio system to their work. I might sound more than a bit pretentious, but it reminds me of the way that many of the blockbuster directors of the seventies – including Lucas and Spielberg – originated from outside the studio system before revolutionising it from inside. As a concept, would I rather watch Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen or Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins? No choice there. Any film with the name “Jerry Bruckheimer” attached or Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man? Again, no choice. So, despite the fact that Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine was a critical failure and an infuriatingly (but, sadly, not unpredictably) disappointing film, am I alone in getting a little excited about Darren Aaronofsky’s The Wolverine.

Against all odds, I might be feeling pretty Jack(man)ed about this...

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Still Dead Set on Deadpool…

Looks like Robert Downey Jnr. isn’t Hollywood’s only two-franchise man at the moment – apparently Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool is still on the cards, at least according to the character’s creator. This is interesting not just because Reynolds will be the leading man in two major superhero productions (and possibly franchises) in the coming years, but also because he will be the first leading man to work with both DC Comics and Marvel Entertainment at the same time. Sure, he was in Blade III, but we don’t count that. It never happened. And I doubt he’d disagree with us on that.

Apparently Green Lantern's secret identity is Deadpool...

Apparently Green Lantern's secret identity is Deadpool...

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Blessed are the Geek, For They Shall Inherit the Earth…

It’s a good time to be a nerd. When exactly did it happen? How did Star Trek become cool again? When did nearly half of all blockbusters find their roots in the oft-mocked comic book artform? When did Comic Con become a major event in the Hollywood calendar? When did it become truly hip to be square?

Haute culture?

Haute culture?

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Backlash to Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash…

I’m on a bit of a comic book binge this week (it helps that Hollywood is churning out so many of the damned movies), and I couldn’t help but not with a wry smile on my face the internet response to the first pictures of Mickey Rourke as the villain (or “a” villian, given the ambiguous roles played by Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson as a business rival and catsuit-wearing spy) in the new Iron Man film. There had been a lot of gossip about whether the loud-mouthed Oscar-nominated actor would be playing Whiplash or Crimson Dynamo. From what fans are saying about the image (appearing below), it appears he’s playing a weird amalgamation of both… and a few more to boot. Though most of fandom appears to have taken this pastiche in their stride, there are a few cynical souls remaining out there who are a little ticked off to see these characters revamped in such a strange way. However, mixing and matching and distorting is by no means anew thing when it comes to adapting iconic characters to the big screen.

It looks like someone has finally tamed Mickey Rourke's wild streak by making him wear an over-sized shock collar

It looks like someone has finally tamed Mickey Rourke's wild streak by making him wear an over-sized shock collar

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Green Lantern… The Other, Other Hot DC Comics Property

Everyone knows Batman and Superman. Those dudes – and their supporting casts – are the nearly the only ambassadors for DC Comics to the world of mainstream cinema. With the exception of the odd stand-alone project, such as Watchmen or Road to Perdition, DC seems to be having a hardtime transitioning its properties to film. Marvel has managed to secure franchises for many of their lights, both greater and lesser – ask the X-Men, Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Blade, Iron Man, The Hulk and even The Punisher – leading me to wonder why DC has taken so long to get out there. Sure, perhaps Superman and Batman (and Wonder Woman) are the most iconic of their stable, but I’d also suggest that the Flash and Green Lantern also carry name recognition (though not to the same degree). I’m greatly anticipating Green Lantern as the second-biggest superhero event of next year (because Iron Man II has one of the best casts… ever), but I’m left to wonder: what the hell took you so long?

Doesn't he know that domino masks are sooooooo Silver Age?

Doesn't he know that domino masks are sooooooo Silver Age?

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