I saw The Avengers (DW) (LJ) back in May 2012. Three years and several other Marvel movies later and it's time to see if the magic is still there. We could have gone down US-31 to the Holland 7, but no... Saturday was the start of Tulip Time in Holland and hundreds of thousands of people were going to show up for the beautiful weather, events and a couple million tulips.
Grand Haven 9 offered a lot of shows, but only ONE afternoon show in 3D. So we'd gotten a Fandango gift card at Christmas. Can't use it at Jack Loeks/Celebration North. But I checked and we could get tickets online for the 3D showing at 3pm. Thank you, Rebecca!
Grand Haven 9 is a Goodrich Quality Theatre, same chain as our favorite Holland 7, and also the Kalamazoo 10. But it's newer than either. In fact, we were here just once, in 1999 shortly after it opened to see Topsy Turvy, which was in very limited release around here. I remember we weren't impressed by either the help or the popcorn then. It was the middle of the week and late, so it just may have been stale, bagged popcorn and not fresh. There weren't a lot of customers. But, it's six years later and we know a number of people who live out Grand Haven way who are happy with the theatre, so we decided to give it another chance.
Of the rash of West Michigan multiplexes built in the 90s, Grand Haven is probably the smallest physically, despite one more screen that the Star Holland 8. Handicapped parking in front on either side of the entrance with multiple ramps. The power assist door, though, could've been a special effect for the slowly opening multi-ton door in Die Hard. A whole family was able to cross in front of me after I pushed the button on the pillar before it opened even a fraction of the way. When I let the family go by, the mother couldn't believe how slow the door was. The father would have held a door open for me, but by then the power assist door was almost open. WTF? And in the theatre, handicapped seating is in the mid-row, as in many stadium seating theatres, but oddly the actual seats were raised up in pairs by one step. So if you were accompanying someone in a wheelchair and they couldn't stand and climb up into the seat, they'd be like a foot or so below you. That sounds family friendly and inclusive, doesn't it? With iron pipe railings in front and behind the seats, I was able to safely step up and take a seat. Weird.
I don't know if we have just been spoiled by newer generation digital 3D projectors at Holland 7 or Celebration North, or if the film is unusually dark, but Mrs. Dr. Phil and I both felt it was a dimmer experience, more like what we'd seen early on in real film 3D movies.
The popcorn, however, was pretty tasty this time.
Avengers: Age of Ultron 3D [PG-13]
Grand Haven 9 Theatre 5, 3:00pm, 2×$9.00
No, there are not spoilers here. We know how these movies work. Marvel has a formula and has been damn good at delivering the goods. The Winter Soldier was better than Captain America: The First Avenger. And after all the Thor, Cap, Iron Man and Hulk movies, 2012's The Avengers was the best of all of them. So we had high hopes for this, which is why we had to see it opening weekend. John Serba, the local GRPress reviewer, gave it 3½ stars. We were stoked.
It's Tony Stark's fault. It's always going to be Tony Stark's fault. Sure, he saves everything in the end, but the man is a menace through multiple movies -- he's the Gregory House of superhero genius engineer billionaires -- his first several solutions are going to be wrong, wrong, wrong and make everything worse. And I ended up using a Pepper Potts LJ icon for this entry, because she's the one character who isn't here. Otherwise, we have to throw the kitchen sink at solving the Ultron mess.
There are quite a number of big fight scenes. But Marvel has figured out how to do pacing. And building up the characters into more than one dimension. We learn something about Hawkeye we didn't know before. And Black Widow. And truly, Mark Ruffalo's Dr. Banner/Hulk has got a lot more depth than previous attempts. Personally, he needs to stand up for himself a little more, but I can still go with him.
And what can I say about Ultron? He is the best villain I've seen in a long time -- best in a comic book movie, I'd say. Who doesn't love a villain who refuses to explain his evil plan to the heroes and makes a joke about it? I mean, if Marvel/Disney didn't have a cash making machine in this franchise, they SO could have had it all go south and have our heroes lose. It's possible. And although we know that superhero death isn't the same as regular person death, these guys were all in jeopardy here.
Of course it wouldn't be a first-class Marvel film without some humor at times. Stan Lee of COURSE makes a memorable appearance in a cameo. And there's a scene with Thor's hammer which is just plain fun. Don Cheadle, a class actor who forever is getting gypped in these films, gets to actually show up from time to time -- but he looks to be having such a good time. We even get to see a couple scenes with the excellent Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård, who has figured in some of the previous movies. Idris Ilba and Haley Atwell get cameos. In a departure from usual Marvel practice, the actor who does the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. gets to act a second role in this movie. Nice.
And given the nature of the enemy's attacks, they are able to explore some things which they hadn't been able to do before with the characters. Hell, they even wreck a city for no good reason.
Okay... so the Physics is, as usual, a little cringeworthy. What can I say? We know it. We can't worry about it or we wouldn't have any fun.
Bottom lines -- is it canon? Well, it seems to fit the Marvel movie universe. I can't speak to the comic universes canon. Is it fun? Oh my. We get to see shit blown up. A lot of shit. And, there is one whopping lot of collateral damage.
For the first Summer 2015 Blockbuster, seeing as it at least May now, it's 141 minutes well spent. Worldwide it pulled in over $600 million this weekend, putting in the #2 box office slot for all of 2015 already. Ahead of the half billion for Fifty Shades of Gray and behind Furious 7 which has been out a while.
Frankly, it looks like a good year for action films.
Wikipedia reports that, "Two sequels, Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 and Avengers: Infinity War Part 2, are scheduled to be released on May 4, 2018, and May 3, 2019, respectively."
Look at the poster. Look at it carefully. There are "A" Avengers and "B" Avengers. The big four are Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. Target has ads showing these four action figures stopping a shopping cart with an Ultron action figure. A commercial before the movie showed four boys with masks and gloves and toys for The Big Four. So, Black Widow and Hawkeye, they're chopped liver? Well, just like Egyptian tomb art, the "B" Avengers are smaller figures. And clearly girls don't need to have superheroes marketed to them.
I get it. The Big Four are SUPERHEROES. One is a god. One is augmented and nearly immortal. One is, well, green and BIG. One has every technological gizmoid known to, if not man, then at least one superior intellect in the universe. But Hawkeye at least gets some fancy tech arrows. Besides her awesome mind, what does Black Widow get? A couple of pistols? And can we get her a movie? (H/T to Clarion 2004 classmate, novelist and comic author Marjorie M. Liu for the link.)
Trailers: Batman v Superman, which I shall just refer to as BS in the future. Look, I know that in the comics world we get good and bad versions of everybody, plus sometimes they team up and sometimes we just want to have superheroes smack each other around. But ignorant of the comic canon, BS just looks stupid. The motivation from The People looks like a lot of arguing of sending Superman back because he's an undocumented illegal alien. There is going to have to be a LOT of good press on this one before I go see it. On the other hand, several friends online have said that with very low expectations going in, that the trailer for Ant Man made them want to see this movie. You know, there is something to be said for Marvel vs DC in the movie business. So help me, it looks like fun. Existing 2nd trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, which clearly screams to be on the big screen. Bottom line, VII HAS to be better than III. Period. There was a fourth trailer, but I don't remember what it was for.
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