Mamo 406: Outsize Egos and Diner Coffee

Mamo!

MAMO ASSEMBLE! We report from the Tulip in Toronto to take Ultron apart bolt by bolt, in this extended look at the performance of Marvel’s Phase 2 capper, Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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Kurt
Guest

All of Joss Whedon’s movie are structured, “Too much like TV.” Even Serenity, which is his best film.

antho42
Guest

The film needed more banter. Best scene is the party scene. I will pay to see a hunging out film with this crew. The action is very meh, which brings down the film tremendously. Also, the franchise weight does drag the film down; too much bullshit stuff.

Philip Poirot
Guest

This was a brilliant episode. It feels like you’ve already prepared this thing like alternative election win/lose headline. I think you would have delivered the ideas just as elegantly if this movie was more successful.

There are two things I’d like to get off my chest about this movie that may sound like a head-scratcher.

1. This movie did something similar to The Dark Knight Rises as a sequel. In The Dark Knight (2008), there were great many bit-players that had only one or two lines of dialogue representing the people of Gotham. Remember the Ferry sequence. They are the people that our heroes are fighting for. Same thing with Spider-man 2. Then comes the Dark Knight Rises. The Executives go “This franchise is way too commercially successful. We don’t want to pay SAG RESIDUALS (income from dvd, tv etc.) to so many actors.” You see if you have a line of dialogue you are graduated from SAG Extra to SAG Actor [with residuals]. Now in TDKR these humanizing characters are mostly cut out and you have to sympathize with the architecture of Gotham.

Same thing here in AAOU. The German guy who stands upto Loki and says, “There are always men like you.” The cafeteria girl who says, “Captain America saved my life.” The police officer who asks, “Why should I take your order?” Those characters are mostly GONE in this movie.

2. Just like everyone makes a drinking game out of Furious 7’s (the whole franchise) frequency of the word “FAMILY”, I felt I can do the same thing in AAOU with the word “JOB/WORK”. Every character says frequently that this is his/her job or time to get back to work. I felt this is what is happening BEHIND THE SCREEN. Creatives (writers, director, actors) have lost a little enthusiasm for this project and they wanted to get this over with for various reasons, of course. So many check-boxes to tick, so much responsibilities, so many expectations — they just want to do this professionally but nothing more. [I know most people might disagree with me but that’s what I felt.]

David Brook
Admin

I’m getting a bit bored of defending this film now (especially as I can see that the film has problems), but I did have an issue with your number 1 Philip. Yes those characters have gone, but I absolutely hate those moments in films. In both the Avengers and Dark Knight and any other film where they have some random character make a comment like that, it pretty much always falls flat on its arse for me. For one, the actors are generally poor and are so excited to be in such a big film they overplay their tiny parts and also the lines (particularly the German one you mentioned and the bridge scene near the end of Spiderman) are usually painfully on the nose or sickeningly patriotic or awkwardly out of place in some other way. So I’m baffled as to why you think the film suffers from not having moments like this.

Philip Poirot
Guest

I am sorry for not being clear. In my no 1. I was criticizing the Studio and defending the filmmakers. In the no. 2, of course I criticized the filmmakers but I meant again to criticize the Studio for making the filmmakers’ life miserable.

What I mentioned is a storytelling technique, a narrative device. It depends on how the filmmakers use it. If a STUDIO NOTE binds a filmmaker’s hand like that then I have a problem. [Not that the STUDIO cares about my opinion] If they can do it to Chris Nolan or Joss Whedon, they will do it again and again.

* I mentioned Spider-man 2 (superior movie in every sense) not the first one. That would be the train scene. I LIKE this narrative technique when done right and Dark Knight and Avengers did this best IMO. Chracters like the Tattoed Prisoner in the Prisoner Transport Ferry (Dark Knight) who says, “You don’t want to die, but you don’t know how to take a life. Give it to me” and he takes the detonator and throws in the water – signals me that these are good people worth saving. So I want BATMAN to fight for them.

On the other hand, in Cabin In the Woods, those people (office workers betting on people’s lives) are so unlikable to me that at the end when the lead characters decide to let the MONSTER loose and destroy everyone — I’m saying “Go for it, I hate these people.”

So I like this narrative device and Joss Whedon uses it frequently. (He also experimented in Dollhouse Tv Show that he used at the end of the Avengers) You may not like the German guy in Avengers but I love him. His face, demeanor alludes to survival in Nazi Germany (the Real World) and he becomes a symbol of FREEDOM for me.

I do understand that you may not like the German guy or this narrative device. You probably have a SPECIAL EDITION STAR WARS CUT where you have edited out the dialogues of the X-WING fighters. But hey, good for you.

MAY THE 4TH BE WITH YOU! 🙂

David Brook
Admin

Yes this technique is done more effectively in The Dark Knight and Spiderman 2 when the scene is more focussed on those innocent people (particularly TDK because Batman is nowhere to be seen on the two boats), but I don’t like it when random voices pop up out of nowhere – I prefer films to be more self-contained. Lines like the German guy feel a bit shoe-horned in to me. As mentioned, it’s the execution that usually bothers me more than anything else and when it’s trying to crowbar in a ‘BIG MESSAGE’. But I do understand where you’re coming from – giving the public who are in danger a voice certainly makes sense.

I would never lose the X-Wing pilots though – I love those guys 🙂

Kurt
Guest

I’ve definitely been applying the ‘Check-Boxes’ argument to Marvel since the first IRON MAN movie. Since then, it’s only gotten worse.

Voncaster
Guest

Total agreement Kurt.

From Matt Brown on I Don’t care that much about Star Wars:
Are we all going to jump up and down like maniacs for every trailer for Episodes VIII and IX? What about XVIII and XIX? At what point of omni-saturation does Star Wars simply cease to be candy?

Replace Episode VIII and XI with Avengers 3 and 4 and replace Star Wars with Marvel. I don’t see much difference between Star Wars flavor franchising, DC flavor franchising or Marvel flavor franchising. Inevitably it leads to products that fill a release calendar and sooner or later diminishing returns.

I’m with Kurt on sooner.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I avoid trailers of movies I want to see, so I haven’t seen the newest Star Wars trailer. Star Wars movies will only be coming out once a year, which to me doesn’t seem that often. Then again, I don’t expect them all to be that good. Different directors and writers are being used, it’s not exactly the same person telling the same story, so I do think eventually a really enjoyable movie can be made. Like the 10th Marvel Studios movie being Guardians of the Galaxy being really fresh and fun even if at it’s core it is still following a lot of the Marvel formula. If that becomes the case with Star Wars, then I will buy and enjoy that 10th film and ignore the rest.

I really disliked the prequels that I tend to just ignore them all. Yet strangely enough I ended up really liking the animated series the Clone Wars which frames itself between the other. I would have been okay personally (others likely would feel different) if the prequel Star Wars movies were never made. Only then this enjoyable animated series wouldn’t exist.

Yes, it’s all apart of a corporate mandate, but that doesn’t mean some enjoyable art can’t be made in the process.

Basically, I’m willing to take and ignore the bad, if it results in eventually it results in something good (of course, this good and bad is all a matter of opinion and my good is someone else’s bad).

Voncaster
Guest

I should be able to live and let live. I like Star Wars, don’t care about Marvel. If someone likes Marvel and doesn’t care about Star Wars, that shouldn’t bother me.

But I’ve read quite a few comics. Certainly not everything. And there are really good comics and there is mediocre stuff. In general I tend to like mini series better than issue runs of comics. The high water marks that people usually point to are Killing Joke, Dark Knight Returns, and Year One. All mini series. Sure there have been good runs. Morrison on New X-men, Miller on Daredevil, Claremont on Uncanny X-men, Wolfman on Teen Titans, Kirkman on Walking Dead and so on. However, I find most issue runs the equivalent of mandated movies. There is not a great idea or quality in the average super hero book you pick up. Instead there is a requirement that a Wonderwoman, a Wolverine, or a Batman book (or books) be put out each month, because they sell. Its a business proposition pure and simple and it shows. Compare what Ware, Tomine, Clowes and Burns are doing with your average superhero book. The gap in design, quality and ambition is noticeable.

I suppose what rubs me the wrong way is people treat these comic book movies like they are special events. In my mind, the Marvel and DC stuff is simply an extension of their comic book mentality. They are the opposite of special at this point. They are routine and expected. Marvel and DC have marketable characters and they are going to put out movies to cash in on IPs. As you point out some may be good, some may be bad. But on balance the approach will produce mostly average to below average results.

I’m willing to admit I’m somewhat hypocritical on this. Because I’m excited for Star Wars. And I will continue to be until a string of bad Star Wars movies is put out. [I like the prequels way more than the average person. I don’t think they live up the original trilogy, but they are fun sci-fi adventures in their own right.]

I also realize good and bad are in the eye of the beholder. If Marvel works for you, it works for you. Like romantic comedies or biopics there is an audience for continuous Marvel content, but I’m probably not in that audience. Which is a little bit strange as comic book fan. But oh well. Maybe I should stick to Daredevil and DCU animated stuff.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

While I’ve been for the most part enjoying Marvel movies, as a comic book fan I hardly buy any superhero comics. I bought a lot as a kid and then moved on sometime in the 90’s. These days I generally pick up comics from Image, Dark Horse, Vertigo, First Second, Fantagraphic, Oni Press and various independents. Occasionally a good superhero run will stick out, that I will pick it up, like most recently Warren Ellis run on Moon Knight (also I’ve been meaning to checkout Ms. Marvel for some time) but otherwise I feel that I’ve been there, done that.

For whatever reason, I don’t feel the same way about Marvel movies just yet and still enjoy those. However, I do understand that they are plugging in a release calendar and not all of them will good. So far I personally think the quality has been high enough and very enjoyable. Still even if they dropped I would still want them to come out for the time when things really click.

Robert Reineke
Guest

A couple of things.

I think people misconstrue the real problem with Man of Steel. It’s not that people die in the climax, it’s that the film absolutely refuses to deal with the consequences and plasters a big happy ending on top of it. Age of Ultron makes that same mistake in absolutely not having any consequences stick to Tony Stark. Heck, say what you will about Man of Steel, Superman didn’t create Zod. He saves plenty of people in the first half of the film, even when told by his father that he shouldn’t, and saves the world. And, when the authorities ask him to turn himself in, he does. Tony Stark is only responsible for thousands of casualties, thousands of refugees, billions in property damage, and has apparently not learned a single lesson. Last I checked, first responders didn’t accidentally cause 9/11 which is where the comparison falls apart.

The ending of The Dark Knight works because the consequences stick to Batman. There are no consequences in Man of Steel or Age of Ultron. The lack of consequences is a storytelling cheat and I think that’s what really causes the audiences to come out dissatisfied. And delaying the consequences until the next movie isn’t a get out of jail free card. If serial storytelling akin to soap operas is the new normal, then you need to embrace consequence and complication rather than run away from it.

Black Widow considers herself a monster comparable to the Hulk for not being able to have children? That’s a line of dialogue from supposed feminist writer Joss Whedon? And nobody steps in and says that’s a load of hooey? That’s one of the most borderline offensive things I’ve heard in a big budget blockbuster in a while, even though it is completely unintentional. I’ll be surprised if they walk away from backlash to that.

The plot if flat out arbitrary in several circumstances. Most particularly in Tony messes up in making an artificial intelligence, but making an artificial intelligence a second time sets everything right. Paul Bettany saves that plot thread, but it underlines how thinly plotted the film is. Things happen because they need to happen to move the film to the climax.

I also think the Quicksilver “Time in a Bottle” sequence blows away most everything that they come up with in Age of Ultron. Marvel’s at least put out the propaganda that they’re better than everyone else at this superhero thing, and in this one case where a direct comparison is drawn Marvel Studios comes up short.

The film does a lot of things right, and has some great stuff like The Vision and Thor’s hammer, but there’s also some real dunderheadness here. This is a definite step down from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Philip Poirot
Guest

You stated clearly some of the problems I had with the movie. I still don’t understand how did that happen with the Black Widow scene. I was expecting Banner to say, “hey! that is totally different. Being sterilized (or being raped) doesn’t make you a monster. Destroying Harlem and South Africa – apparently BLACK Majority areas – that makes you a monster.”

Besides I don’t see Hawkeye (or any male character) staying locked up in the cell in Ultron’s lair waiting for a rescue. She is an AVENGER and the GREATEST SPY in the world. In the first movie, she CHOSE to be in those vulnerable situations but not here. It specially bugged me because Whedon criticized the Jurassic World clip to be Sexist!

However, I liked a lot of the movie.

Goon
Guest

There’s also the prima nocta joke which apparently some people are taking issue with.

But anyways, to play devil’s advocate, in the last movie Hawkeye spent a good chunk of the movie under mental control so this time it may just be a simple sub-out of the ‘regular’ Avengers to be in peril/her turn. In addition may have thought that her scheming a way out would have been repetitive.

But if we’re talking about female characters, I was more taken aback by the handwave away of Jane and Pepper than I was of how Black Widow was treated.

Robert Reineke
Guest

Prima Nocta gets a pass because a) it’s clearly a joke and b) it’s going over the heads of a lot of people.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Black Widow doesn’t thinks she’s a monster because she can’t have children, she thinks she’s a monster because she’s a killing machine and has killed hundreds, if not thousands of people. It’s why she relates to Banner. They are the only two murderers in the group.

And she thought her redemption was in having children, which they took away from her as a means of controlling her. Clearly the movie is setting up that her redemption is in helping Banner come to terms with his own remorse.

Robert Reineke
Guest

Fair enough in full context. I agree that was the intention. I just thought the dialogue was clumsy and certainly created connections that could have been avoided.

Philip Poirot
Guest

BTW if Joss Whedon was making a commentary on Man of Steel, was he also making a commentary on 50 Shades of Grey? Black Widow has a history with “RED ROOM” just like Ana Steele’s ongoing struggle with her “RED ROOM OF PAIN”. Joss did name HULKBUSTER “Veronica” referring to Archie Comics. lol.

Rick Vance
Guest

The female characters in that movie almost to a T were questionable.

Beauty calming the beast, only character taken captive, also entirely built around the idea of Motherhood which is amplified with Hawkeye’s wife being there.

And yeah the monster bit was disgusting.

Rick
Guest

I also very strongly disagree with the notion that pieces of a large hole can not be judged as stand alone things when they are released to be consumed and purchased individually.

It is a thought process that has over the years really bogged down a lot of comics storytelling actually because the idea that people are more likely to read these things in bulk lowers the priority for the individual units to be great, which is a large problem when you are expecting people to come out to this thing in individual units. You can do both and both can be spectacular so there really isn’t any excuse when people want to throw around the we can’t know what this build up leads too (I think the same is true with stuff where this is far more held belief like HBO television).

Markus Krenn
Guest

Wasn’t Tony’s whole reasoning for developing Ultron, that he don’t want to put on the suit anymore?
I think the movie made that very clear.
Still don’t explains why he was Iron Man again at the beginning, but at least it followed the line trough from IM3

Goon
Guest

I’m trying to think of a single extended dream sequence in film I can’t do without, and the only one that comes to mind is the Big Lebowski.

Robert Reineke
Guest

Hitchcock’s Spellbound would be an exception. I think Kurosawa pulls it off well in Drunken Angel, primarily because Kurosawa can tell a story visually.

Robert Reineke
Guest

I should probably add Kurosawa’s Dreams and Lynch’s Black Lodge sequences from Twin Peaks to the list of memorable dream sequences.

Voncaster
Guest

I’ve always liked the opening dream sequence to a Nightmare on Elm Street where Tina is wandering the Halls, and there is fog, a lamb and a boiler room.

Andrew James
Admin

Those Lebowski sequences are fantastic! A porn satire in a giant, highly choreographed Broadway-esque number from the 30s (complete with an opening credits sequence) interspersed with surrealism and often subtle local imagery from dialogue (the cableman, Saddam, scissors, bowling pins, the beeper) from the rest of the film!? It’s some of the most brilliant banality and attention to detail (those costumes!) in a “dream” sequence I’ve ever seen.

We’ll have to vehemently disagree on this one Goon.

Goon
Guest

reread, I am pro-Lebowski scene 😛

Andrew James
Admin

Aha! A double negative (kinda). Take that anyone else that doesn’t like the Lebowski Dream sequence!

schizopolis
Guest

Even though there’s tons of rubble, no civilians seem to die in Marvel films. Critics always target Man of Steel, but in the last Thor film, Thor doesn’t go out of his way to save innocent lives in the finale in London. The only real difference is that Man of Steel didn’t cut away from showing people getting crushed. The Marvel films cut away.

Now Marvel is putting in cheap jokes about saving people, which is more winking at the camera and that seems disingenuous and almost cynical. Marvel films are fast food franchises. A bit of everything for everyone. So you can’t show your customers getting fat..or crushed that is.

Rick
Guest

Reminds me of the major issue I have with the change to the end of Watchmen. In the book it is full of carnage and blood and consequence of the monstrous action that was just performed and in the film it is just a sterile blue explosion and some buildings exploding.

People are smart enough to get what is happening obviously, but there is a large difference in being put down in ground zero of one compared to the other.

schizopolis
Guest

I actually really liked the new ending of Watchmen. That movie gets better and better on repeat viewings. Man of Steel was PG-13 and people get trampled and crushed. They even show them being lifted 50 stories and getting pounded. The Avengers just jokes about “a boot having no quarrel with an ant”. Man of Steel actually shows it. Snyder just made the mistake of not addressing it afterwards (even though he addressed the mass destruction at the end of Watchmen).

I’ll always side with the films that are more cinematic and have more ambition like Watchmen, TDK & MoS. The MCU films for the most part are true corporate product. Damn good action-comedies.

Rick
Guest

AoU also made me a lot more excited for Batman v. Superman because the one thing the DC movies are for sure banking on directors with unique styles, and while I do not think Man of Steel is a good movie it is an interesting movie made by a director with a point of view and a vision.

The DC stuff looks weird in a way the Marvel movies do not.

Philip Poirot
Guest

I am confused that lot of people are criticizing
A) Tony Stark for creating ULTRON and
B) The genesis of ULTRON is too rushed.

I thought that Tony Stark found ULTRON’s consciousness/soul and tried to build a sort of brain around it. That’s why the first thing Ultron says (paraphrasing) ‘I was asleep or I was in a dream. When I woke up I was tangled in strings.’

So I assumed he was an ALIEN CONSCIOUSNESS (maybe created by Thanos) brought back to life by Tony Stark and Ultron already had a SUBCONSCIOUS DIRECTIVE given by his “creator” to clear a path for Thanos. So when he woke up, he immediately found AVENGERS to be the primary target.

That’s why I didn’t think he was like Skynet or Hal.