Thing I Noticed Last Week – 5.4.2015

I know before I even start writing this I will bring a level of fury and anger to the heart of our very own Thanos, Jesse Edmond. I’m afraid, not of him, but the possibility of stroking his ever-growing ego with such an analogy knowing full well Edmond is more of a lackey at best, but for topical purposes we will leave it at that. I start this way mostly because he is a comic book purist and I on the other hand am not. By this point I’m sure you have already guessed where we are heading this week, so here goes nothing.

1. In what turned out to be the second biggest opening weekend domestically ever (second only to it’s prequel), The Avengers: Age of Ultron might not have brought in the dough some thought it might, but it certainly did not disappoint it’s viewers. I for one, had no idea what to expect and was pleasantly surprised at how far it exceeded my expectations. It hasn’t proven as fruitful (yet) for Marvel Studios as it’s predecessor was when it opened, but this is a much better film. I don’t say this as a slight to the original, but as a complement to Ultron.

This film finds our heroes with a much better understanding of each other and therefore we get deeper into their personalities and spend far less time with all of the origin story nonsense. In fact, could be the busiest film I’ve ever seen and yet it never felt lazily fleshed out. We get new characters, new villains, and new heroes, and although it definitely feels like a marathon Joss Whedon and crew handle every aspect with the precision of pentathlete. Instead of giving you a standard review, which you will see thousands of over the next week, here are my quick thoughts.

  • Thor was actually really likable in this one. It was good to see him grasping an understanding of Earth humor.
  • Is there anyone better than Robert Downey Jr.? Did you know he is 50 now? Has anyone ever looked better at 50?
  • With that said, the good actors really shine in this one. RDJ, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner really steal the show. No slight to the rest, but they can act.
  • Also, can this series survive without RDJ? I say definitively, no. The fact of the matter is, he puts butts in seats like no one else in the industry right now. Top three opening weekends domestically: The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Iron Man 3. You slap someone else in the iron suit and does anyone care that Iron Man is anything more than a Black Sabbath song? Probably not.
  • Like Brent Thomas said last week this seems to be the year of artificial intelligence taking over the big screen. I wrote last week about why Ex Machina worked and I would say Ultron worked just as well. The story here is so complex. Tony Stark does what he does best in pushing the limits and doing things he probably shouldn’t be. Bringing what he hoped to be mankind’s savior, but ultimately threatens it’s demise, to life. An ongoing debate pursues in which half the team (Stark and Banner) believe in science and the other half (Rogers and Thor) believe well enough should most definitely be left alone. I’m glad to see the sequel didn’t find everything to be all hugs and kisses in Avenger land. Ultimately all four of them are egotistical and self-absorbed, working together more so out of necessity than commonality. It’s a raging debate on what we should meddle with, and in the end, like with most things, it appears to be very gray.
  • I’m glad they made fun of Steve Rogers for being such a Boy Scout. That act was getting entirely too old.
  • How about Lindsay from Freaks and Geeks making an appearance. Who would’ve bet money on her showing up? I mean Martin Starr sure, but Linda Cardellini, that was a cameo I did not see coming.
  • Even as a voice actor James Spader is awesome.
  • With Infinity War coming as a two-parter, I suggest they shed any of the charcters who’s actors won’t be sticking around past that point in one of those two films. As a moviegoer, I get very distracted by films that replace actors like they are identical cogs in a machine. I still have trouble not being jarred while watching The Dark Knight trilogy and Katie Holmes suddenly becomes Maggie Gyllenhaal or the Iron Man trilogy when Terrance Howard suddenly becomes Don Cheadle. It’s still a little strange that Chris Evans transformed from the Human Torch into Captain America. In a universe as complex as the Marvel Comics Universe, you need to stay consistent, move on from the character, or reboot. I get that no actor wants to play the same character their entire life, but like I said previously can you really envision someone other than RDJ stepping into this current universe and putting on the red and gold? Imagine someone replacing George Clooney when he left ER and pretending to be him. Believable? I think not.

I would have more to say if wasn’t so committed to not spoiling anything for anyone. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you, like all of America, have already seen this film, but I won’t take the chance.

2. Staying in the artificial intelligence realm, Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling are going to be in a Blade Runner sequel? Why? Ryan Gosling is a tremendous actor and easy on the eyes, but is a sequel to arguably the greatest sci-fi film ever necessary? I guess if Rutger Hauer comes back to talk about “tears in the rain” I won’t argue with it much. Who didn’t get a little misty eyed during that scene?

3. After the Jared Leto Joker photo was released we now get the whole team. The Suicide Squad looks more like the boring squad if you ask me. Couldn’t they have added a little color to make it pop. This looks more like the Gothic Squad. Can’t a comic book movie have a little bit of pop too it? This is exactly why DC will always come in second. Marvel fully understands how to run a business. You release big colorful films with themes more accessible for younger audiences and you will not only clean up at the box office, but you’ll sell lots of lunchboxes as well. The darker universe DC is creating is certainly respectable, but they have arguably the two most recognizable characters in pop culture history (Superman and Batman) and kids are trending more and more everyday to their Marvel counterparts. Would it kill you DC to embrace a little bit of the comic pageantry?

4. Lastly this week, TV has been giving us a lot of great comedy lately. Will Forte’s The Last Man On Earth is hysterical and probably the best comedy on network television right now. Silicon Valley and Veep are just crushing it on HBO. And in the most comedic thing of the week, Showtime’s streaming service has stopped being compatible with the Google Chrome browser. Apparently Google does not control the world like we all thought they did.

Thanks for reading and see you next week!