Say Aloha to Aloha

Aloha

RELEASED: 2015, May
GENRE: Comedy, Drama, Romance
DURATION: 105 min(s)
DIRECTOR: Cameron Crowe
ACTORS: Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone
PLOT: Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper) is a military contractor with a history of success. After an incident overseas, he returns to the site of his greatest achievements, Hawaii, to attempt to sway a multibillionaire to fund his latest work. In paradise though lies an ex-lover Tracy Woodside (Rachel McAdams) whose past runs deep and a new, eager Captain Allison Ng (Emma Stone) who is interested in Gilcrest. What will happen?

ACTORS’ PERFORMANCE: With a cast like this you can expect some decent acting for the 105 minutes. Cooper leads the cast playing the greedy contractor with the troubled past and does so especially well. He sold me that he was a man who was confused on so many levels, weighing love interests against work to attempt to make him happy. I felt drawn into his thoughts, able to understand his mind and emotions during most of the movie. As for McAdams, she falls back into the drama/romance role we’ve seen in movies like The Vow and The Time Traveler’s Wife. She knows how to cry, sigh, and play the vulnerable woman role, so if you like that style you’ll find no fault in her role here. As for Stone, not my favorite of her work. Whether due to the director or her acting, Stone was too energetic and silly for my liking as a love interest/air force captain. I found her character too forced on me, she was trying too hard to be funny and more annoyed than entertained. Her sincere sides were quite touching, but they didn’t come often enough to offset her more annoying qualities.
SCENES: Aloha’s scenes are very simplistic, lacking any real special effects or wonder. Camera work does a nice job of getting the best emotion out of a scene, while still maximizing screen time of the beautiful landscape they are in. They also have some moments where the culture of the locals is brought to life, with customs, music, and dancing combined to get a taste of paradise.

LIKED: As you read up top, the acting is one of the best parts of this movie. Cooper really takes the blunt of the quality, and through his acting you have an interest in his life…somewhat. For the comedy portion, I did like some of the wit and presentation of the jokes, despite some lines being a bit forced. Yet my absolute favorite part is the music of this movie. The soundtrack is diverse ranging from ukulele covers of songs to classic songs across the decade, and in truth kept me awake at certain parts of the movie. Outside of this… not much else I can say I liked.

DISLIKED: Aloha has three story elements that are taking place over the course of the movie, but only two of them really worked together. The romantic triangle between Gilcrest, Ng, and Woodside was like a bad and less funny version of Archie comics, over emotional drama being the core of it. I was bored, and I felt that Woodside got put to the side until Ng left the picture. The plot moved like molasses, and the revelations weren’t that shocking due to their predictability and soap opera like components. Looking at the work plot line… it was a very weird and ambiguous tale that was so abstract that it felt out of place in the whole scheme. It was supposed to add some drive and tension, but it’s integration didn’t do it for me. Which brings me to my next point, the editing. While the scenes are pretty, some could have been chopped to help speed things up, or at least replaced with some more exciting scenes. Some of the other big named actors also could have used some more time in the plot, maybe to provide better laughs, or perhaps even to play better antagonists. Whatever way it was done, surely it would have been an improvement over some of the decisions in this movie.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Aloha was not what I expected to be, and in truth felt like a rushed product of pieced plot lines and genres with some forced comedy. Those who absolutely love overdramatic romance, or can appreciate artistic, symbolic cinema are going to be the ideal audience for this movie. My recommendation is to skip this film though, and save it for renting or television. Sorry fans, but this movie just doesn’t cover the intended audience I think it sought.

My scores are:

Comedy/Drama/Romance: 6.0-6.5 (for drama and romance)

Movie Overall: 6.0

Rock Solid Earthquake Movie, But Still Cracked In Some Areas

San Andreas

RELEASED: 2015, May
GENRE: Suspense, Thriller, Natural Disaster Movie
DURATION: 154 min(s)
DIRECTOR: Brad Peyton
ACTORS: Dwayne Johnson, Alexandria Daddario, Carla Gugino
PLOT: In the beautiful state of California, the southern cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Bakersfield are enjoying their usual routines. However, all that changes when an earthquake in Nevada occurs, starting a chain reaction capable of destroying the entire state. LA fire chief Ray (Dwayne Johnson) finds himself dragged into the epicenter of the chaos when his daughter Blake (Daddario) and wife Emma (Gugino) become entangled in the disaster.

ACTORS’ PERFORMANCE: For a disaster movie you don’t expect much in terms of acting outside of lots of screaming and a stone cold, brave protagonist. Surprisingly San Andreas’ characters slightly deviate from that formula. Johnson is ever the stoic macho man, who seems capable of anything. He primarily keeps his cool, but for once has some tragic backstory that adds some emotional turmoil and realism to his pallet. Daddario has certainly grown up from her Percy Jackson days, and continues to impress with me with her roles. Despite looking like a shallow twenty year old, Daddario has some depth to her simple role as her character pulls out some survival skills while still be vulnerable to fear. Gugino further shows women rock, as she too jumps into the ravaged quake zones to help Johnson achieve his goals. Her character starts off moot, but eventually transitions into an action woman while also assisting in keeping the plot moving, something that can be hard to do. Paul Giamatti nails the tectonics expert role, bringing a plethora of qualities to a stereotypical role that not only “explains” the science involved, but also brings some purpose to the film.
SCENES: San Andreas brings jaw dropping special effects to the fray, showing what a major earthquake in California could look like. The design team has done a fine job editing computer-generated sequences of buildings collapsing alongside live action sequences involving props “falling” on extras. Camera work adds some depth to the scenes, and for once tumbling cameras actually add to the detail of the movie, “It’s a Miracle”. Sound editing also hits home as a powerful symphony score is mixed into the rumbles, crashes, and explosions granting the feel as if this was a judgment from the heavens. In case you haven’t gotten yet, this may be the best part of the movie.

LIKED: San Andreas is one of the better suspense movies I’ve seen in a while. Most movies involve the cast making stupid choices so that we can get more suspense and thrills. This film does a decent job of piecing the events together to give a point to the adventure and putting the chaos as a secondary quality. This is helped by dividing the story into three components: detecting the quake, being in the quake, and getting into the quake zone to rescue. By balancing these three plots, I felt as if I was watching a disaster unfold, while also experiencing the horror of the city coming apart. Jumping around kept the movie entertaining, while keeping the simplistic plot moving as the three plots converge to a close. Another like is the variety of action involving stunts like aircraft piloting, debris dodging, and even skydiving all used to get to their goals. The character development was not half bad, not only adding definition to a limited role, but also helping maintain interest and emotional connections to the cast.

DISLIKED: Like all disaster movies, the obvious foreshadowing in both dialog and camerawork, gives away an already predictable plot. Most likely that won’t “shake” you up too much, but still surprise keeps things interesting. Second is the lack of buildup of the earthquake. Think about how most disaster movies start to teasing you before the storm hits, you get hyped up for what is about to come and it makes the movie more exciting. Not this one, the earthquake just hits and then bam the buildings begin to fall. In addition we could have used a little more character development to help out with the simple heroes, especially when there was so much tension at the start of the film. Conflicts kind of died down, forgiveness and acceptance happening in the blink of an eye (like that ever happens). As a side note, I wished they had done more with the Rock’s team they introduced in the beginning. Some of my favorite natural disaster movies involve a crack team going into the void to save the innocents, and this one could have greatly benefited from such an element.

FINAL THOUGHTS: All in all, San Andreas plays its role as a thriller, giving you some suspense, some laughs, and digital destruction in one weekend. It was better than I expected, but still lacks a lot of other qualities I like to see in a movie. One thing that most will like is the beautiful specimens on the screen and the strong heroic qualities they have that may get your fire going. Those looking for some fantastic digital work and an exciting adventure should pay a visit to the theater for this one, but otherwise stick to the home renting.

My scores are:

Action/Drama/Thriller: 7.5-8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

The Future Is Family Friendly and Well Acted, but Lacking Technology

Tormorrowland

RELEASED: 2015, May
GENRE: Action, Adventure, Mystery
DURATION: 130 min(s)
DIRECTOR: Brad Bird
ACTORS: George Clooney, Brit Robertson, Hugh Laurie
PLOT: Casey Newton (Robertson) is a genius who has a strong interest in the world around her. After posting bail for a crime, Casey finds a pin that brings her to a place of limitless potential, a new world where anything seems possible. In order to gain access to this futuristic dimension though she will have to enlist the aid of a former resident of that place named Frank (Clooney). However, Frank’s history with the utopia may prove an insurmountable obstacle, especially when hunters continue to track he and Casey.

ACTORS’ PERFORMANCE: Perhaps one of the strongest components of this movie is the acting. Robertson once again dazzles the screen in both looks and talents as she brings her character to life. Casey seems like a real person, who has the right balance of wits, passion, and emotion as she ventures into the unknown. Robertson knows how to deliver her lines with sass, keeping you laughing and engaged, but not overdoing it to get annoying (most of the time). Clooney also lives up to his potential, somehow managing to deliver powerful dialog despite his limited emotional spectrum. The aged hunk for the most part is either angry or emotionally moot as his character explains the ins and outs of technological history. While strong alone, together Clooney and Robertson are stronger, their chemistry amazing as they play off each other like a father-daughter combination. Even though she isn’t the top credit, Raffey Cassidy is the other major contender in the film. Cassidy is already very impressive to me, another wild card who can play a wide variety of qualities into one character. She has an ability to bring wit and laughs with her sarcasm, but yet bring class and charm to ground her jokes.
SCENES: Tomorrowland’s scenes aren’t half bad, and can be split essentially into two parts: real world and tomorrowland. In the real word the scenes are well shot, the camera work in particular well directed to capture the detail. Our journey across the world has great visuals and is filmed in a number of beautiful areas that are appeasing to the eye. As for tomorrowland visuals, they are okay. The graphics for the imaginative technologies are sleek, shiny, and bright, representative of the good old Disney imagination. Yet, the design team has some edges to smooth out if they want to compete with other animation works like Transformers and Jurassic Park. Most of the robots and gadgets have a cartoony look to them, some looking no more than a plastic kids toy that lights up. It is PG, but come on… you don’t have to go that cheap. Regardless the scenes are well edited, and the visuals are beautifully woven into the live action to make a world that mirrors the park’s scenery.

LIKED: Aside from the acting, Tomorrowland does have a few other good qualities that I found entertaining. This film is constantly moving, our heroes being hunted keeps them on their toes as they try to elude their captors. Clooney’s ingenuity, combined with creative movie magic, allows them to find new ways to keep the chase going and the excitement as well. Speaking of excitement, Tomorrowland surprisingly has some okay action that spans across hand to hand combat, robot boxing, and laser gunplay. Don’t blow a gasket people, the action has been programmed to be family friendly and happens so quickly it’s like it wasn’t there. Be warned there is a bit of darkness to the fights though, and you may exercise caution for kids who are sensitive. Even better is that all of this action is intertwined with character development and mystery to help keep suspense building in the movie. I found myself trying to decipher what had caused each character to act the way they did, everything hovering around some major incident. It kept me engaged in the characters and wondering what would transpire to force them to reveal their secrets.

DISLIKED: The first weakness I disliked was the lack of time in Tomorrowland. Despite the title, you don’t spend that much time in the futuristic utopia that you saw in the commercials. Casey does venture a few times to give you a taste of the computer generated dimension, but she doesn’t really get to interact with the world the way you might expect. I felt robbed and was disappointed that we didn’t get more time with the fun technology the world held. Another flaw was what the big event was they were trying to prevent. The big reveal was a convoluted mess, that really didn’t hold much threat or evil as I had expected. Personally it was just a plot device used to preach the morals of this movie, which while good, doesn’t make for a good antagonist. Even the solution was uncomplicated, and despite all the chasing, the movie lacked the edge I wanted, (blame it on the PG ranking). Some parts were also boring and a bit too drawn out, leading to the 130 minute runtime, which was not necessary.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Tomorrowland immerses you into Disney Theme park imagination and is a fun tale for families alike. The concepts are convoluted, and the situations are a bit more mature for the typical Disney goer, but they do contain sustenance older adults like to see. It’s a fun blend, and does have some well crafted graphics, but I’ve seen better, more engaging tales in some of their earlier works. Worth a trip to the theater? For the special effects yes, but I recommend renting this one.

My scores are:

Action/Adventure/Mystery: 7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

It’s Heeeeere! Creepy Clowns With The Original Plot

Poltergeist

It’s Memorial Day weekend gang and you know what that means. Right, a horror movie…or maybe you weren’t thinking that at all. Well while most of the public is out celebrating by grilling and toasting those they remember, this reviewer is hitting the theater for more reviews. This review we take a stroll down remake lane as we hit Poltergeist, the first scare movie of the summer. Can the remake live up to the classic? Let’s find out.

From the trailers, Poltergeist promises some terrifying moments in the dark that hold promise for making you fear what bumps in the night. This movie will not disappoint, as it provides a setting that indeed can bring some tingles to your spine. At first the setting of the house offers little threat, a few incidents happening in the day time might make you jump, but for the most part offer a safe relief from the terrors at hand. Once night hits and the power conveniently goes out, that is where the audience begins to jump. Poltergeist plays off one’s fear of the dark, using the shadows to build anticipation, suspense, and terror at what our invisible “friends” have in store. It’s creepy, the camera work and sound editing making you feel abandoned in the house aside from kids who aren’t necessarily equipped to bust ghosts. Aside from the dark, the design team has crafted some haunting dolls that are perhaps the scariest part with their soulless eyes and smiles. The creeps aren’t the only ploy they have in their bag though. Poltergeist also has plenty jump at you moments, where things suddenly jump out at you after the predictable build up. .

The story of this movie is also not too bad, essentially being the same movie with up to date graphics and a slight “romantic” twist.  Is there anything new? One is some new scare ploy, primarily the clowns that were not in the 80’s version, that kind of work. Second is the integrating modern technology as a media for the ghosts to use such as iphones and ipads that are generation is accustomed too. Third is the increase in special effects that help bring the horror to life, though sometimes the effects are cheesy and overflashy. Unfortunately these things aren’t the most realistic looking and the 3-D perspective is really unnecessary and added very little to the tale.      

So let’s talk negatives of this Poltergeist. For one thing there isn’t a lot of originality to this film. It’s always great in theory to retell a classic tale, but some unique twists are often required to make the film worthwhile. This installment didn’t have much of that, and while the graphics were more impressive, it really didn’t add the edge I was hoping to see. The modern technology was cool, and the clowns were scary, but HBO could do the same thing and saved us the trouble of stale popcorn. In addition the scares weren’t as terrifying as I had hoped. Yes I like creepy, but the cheesiness of some of the scares offset that factor and actually made it more a loud, light show than actual terror. In terms of acting, it wasn’t half bad, but wasn’t connected to the characters in this film. The mom and dad were okay in this film, a little too depressed and inconsistent for my tastes, and the oldest daughter was just annoying to me. Looking at the paranormal team, they were okay as well, but I held no loyalty to most of them, and found them rather unnecessary for most of the movie. Even the ghosts lost the edge they held in the first rendition, becoming nothing more than a collection of CGI sprites, instead of being lead by the entity known as the Beast. The exception to the lackluster characters might be the two youngest kids, the boy in particular being the person I took the most interest in. He kept the group together and kept the plot going for most of the movie as he tried to uncover the terror within. Without the tie to the family in this film, I wasn’t quite at the edge of my seat as I had hoped to be.

Poltergeist is certainly a decent remake that sticks to the original plot and scare tactics that you remember. Despite the superficial scare factor of this movie, I can’t really recommend a trip to theater for this one. After all with little originality, some overdone special effects, and a lack of suspense there isn’t much to lure you into the theater on this one.

Overall my scores are:

 

Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Mad Max: Furious Action, Femme Fatales, and Adrenaline Rushing: Nice Work George Miller

Mad Max

            Robbie K here, bringing you another blockbuster movie review. Today’s focus is on the latest action movie, Mad Max Fury Road. Now if you have seen any of the precursors or the trailer, you can expect some ridiculous things in this movie that might make you go… mad. With that bad pun, let’s get started on Miller’s latest project.

Fury Road lives up to its name, as heated emotions have evolved into total anarchy. Led under the reign of Immortan Joe (Hugh Keayes-Byrne), Post Apocalyptic Earth is a savage wasteland filled with bandits and Warboys (essentially crazy, shirtless warriors) These parties roam the wastelands in modified vehicles, scavenging for slaves, supplies, and whatever else they can find.  Mad Max’s world is designed to mirror the hostility and chaos of this series, especially in the punk elements. The cars in particular hold designs that could be found in a psychopathic garage, where GPS and stereos have been replaced with explosive spears, spike linings, and flamethrowers. While nightmarish, Miller’s team has managed to keep the carnage “classy” without crossing over into disturbing for most of the movie. Joe’s army hold some diversity, the characters often identifiable by some disease or more “colorful” quality.

Despite these visuals though, it is the action itself that contains the most fury. Mad Max’s action has taken a step up thanks to technology while still keeping to its roots. Incredibly fast car chases are the theme of this movie, as warriors shoot, blow up, and crush each other in a chaotic demolition derby. Gunplay and combat amidst speeding cars is indeed quite thrilling, and the suspense of wondering who will die adds an exciting edge (like Walking Dead). It is graphic, but Miller keeps the gruesome gore to a “classy” minimum, despite what the trailers might have otherwise suggested. The technology was superb, computer and live filming fantastically edited together to bring fluid battles. Yet the most impressive factor for this reviewer was the camerawork. We’ve seen plenty of action films where the directors try to capture the mood by “shaking” things up a bit. However, these attempts are often an earthquake like mess that distracts and robs you of the detail you so love to see. Fortunately Master George Miller keeps the lens focused and stable to give you as much detail as you can get. Bravo good sir, bravo.

Acting wise the movie is decent, though many of the roles are limited in dialog, but heavy in action. Tom Hardy as Mad Max has the quiet, outcast look, down. He doesn’t say much, more so mumbles, but makes up for this in stunt, grunting as he takes on the seemingly endless army. Nicholas Hoult even impressed me with his role as Nux, a Warboy who goes through quite the ordeal. At first I thought he would be annoying, but Hoult manages to bring quite an emotional spectrum to a well-developed role. My star however is Charlize Theron, who finally got a role that didn’t stink for me. Theron’s hard core, strong woman demeanor takes full throttle in this film, commanding respect from all and makes for quite an entertaining character. The rest of the cast does a fine job playing their part, but Mad Max’s casting seems more about looks and makeup than incredible acting ability.

Despite all the good this movie has to it though there are a few things that didn’t work for me. I know the movie is all about insanity and action, but some of the characters were a bit much for me. Immortan Joe’s band of rebels sometimes were too annoying, their garbles screams and chants doing nothing for me. The fact they are riding around in moving death traps, in the hot sun shirtless was more than enough to prove they were nuts. Even Immortan Joe was a bit lame at times, because he didn’t really do anything other than scream, sometimes drive, and breathe through a ventilator, like a grotesque Darth Vader?. Another thing to pick at is the action in this movie. While very exciting, they do all fall under the same formula, summarized as bad guys arrive and stuff blows up, then repeat. In addition Max surprisingly is not as impressive as I thought he would be, often taking backseat as the other characters, primarily the awesome women, take care of the barbarian trash. Score one for the suffragists.

Overall Mad Max Fury Road met a lot of my expectations for the genre. It brought me back into the chaotic world of Max, and kept me entertained, and elated, the entire time. I would have like a little more story and explaining, but Miller has made his normal quality film. This is definitely a movie for the theaters folks, the special effects and actions scenes alone designed for silver screen. Should you see it in 3-D? I didn’t, but there might be some extra detail, though probably not enough for the extra cash.   FYI those who can’t suspend reality or hate violent, action movies need to stay clear of this one, unless you want to be nice to your significant other.

My scores are:

 

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 9.0-9.5

Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5

Aca-Awesome Laughs And Songs, Though Still Not As Good As the First

Pitch Perfect 2

            Hey there it’s Robbie K, back with another movie review to help you get some insight into the latest movies. Today I throw my hat into the ring of the latest singing movie Pitch Perfect 2, a sequel that has been most anticipated for quite some time. With it’s predecessor becoming an instant “classic” in the A capella world, going so far to inspire singing competitions, surely this sequel had some potential to rock the ear drum world. From the trailers, here is what you might expect:

  1. Comedy
  2. Toe Tapping Tunes
  3. A cute story

However, in the world of sequels you never know what will come out of the woodwork, so here is what you get:

  1. Comedy

In terms of Comedy, Pitch Perfect 2’s greatest strength is the ability to make you laugh. The trailer showing Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) showing off her lower anatomy is only the tip of the iceberg in this installment. You will be bombarded with one liners that are sure to be the next T-shirt or picture meme, including that famous use of Aca into vocabulary. The writers spared no expense to cram this movie with ridiculous quotes, often having our Barden Bellas go to extraordinary lengths to deliver their lines. What was the result? Most of the audience was rolling on the floor laughing, some even to tears at the comedy at hand. Wilson in particular takes the cake for the most laughs, using her weight and her blunt way of speaking to land well-timed, hilarious, dialogue. Even the slapstick comedy involving the setting is fun, especially when you see the responses of the other girls at what occurred. But perhaps the third factor that made the comedy so fun, was integrating some of the jokes into singing. Whether it was Fat Amy performing an act, or someone screwing up a lyric, Pitch Perfect 2 adds some quality comedy in their song numbers to give us a small break from the other comedy.

But for all the good of the comedy, there are some limitations. For one thing the jokes were thrown at me a little too much, and for this reviewer some of the one-liners got stale. I mean how many weight jokes or sex references do we need in a two hour time frame? The second mistake was not balancing the comedy between the Bellas. Oh sure each of them got at least one line into the phrase, but this sequel focused heavily on Fat Amy and left some of the others in the dust. I always used to enjoy Becca’s sarcasm as a joke, but even that got drowned by the simple slapstick of this movie. Finally the writers went a little too far with their racial/sexist jokes in both intensity and number. Some of the jokes are more insulting than funny, and the constant bashing throughout the movie had me shaking my heads and praying that no protests or boycotts would come underway.

  1. Songs:

So if you saw the first movie, you know that covers are the other life force of this series. Pitch Perfect 2 does a great job bringing their versions of popular songs into the mix, and making you want to sing and dance the night away. Songs are mashed together in a recipe of success that covered all genres, somehow being spun in a direction that made me like a Taylor Swift song. They even did a better job integrating our girls into the mix, helping to expand the track horizon. Best of all, I didn’t have to hear I Saw The Sign performed ten times in one movie, which was perhaps the most annoying part of Pitch Perfect 1. Throw in the filler songs that helped transition the scenes, and you have one soundtrack I’ll be looking to buy down the line. However… the music still pales compared to its predecessor. Despite Pitch Perfect 2 having some really good tunes, the numbers still weren’t as impressive as I had hoped. The final battle in particular was rather lackluster and simple, though the Bellas number did rock, and I found myself bored with the performances of the other groups.

  1. Story

We all know this movie isn’t about the story, but take a look back at what we had in the first movie. Pitch Perfect brought college life to the screen, helping introduce a new world for Becca that included getting involved, music, friends, and love. It was simple and predictable, but done well that tied the other aspects together. Not the case in Pitch Perfect 2. This sequel sacrificed a lot of plot for extra laughs, essentially shredding the foundation to which I enjoyed in the first. Sure there was the establishment of a rival team to help spur the plot, and there was even a moral filled tale of embracing change. Heck there were even a few cutesy love stories thrown into the mix. But this movie really diluted their character development down into a rather basic mashup of half baked plot lines. I didn’t feel quite as attached to the characters, my mind only wondering what the next stunt or joke would be.

So from my skewed review what can we take away? Pitch Perfect 2 is a really fun and enjoyable sequel that is sure to entertain a majority of the world. The comedy heavy theme and dialogue is going to make you laugh, and the soundtrack will have you tapping your toes away. Despite the lack of balance and weaker story, I have to recommend you go and see this film in theaters (like you actually wouldn’t).

My scores overall are:

Comedy/Music: 8.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

It is the Age of Decent Sequels: Ultron Has Laughs and Action

Avengers 2

            Alright we’ve all been waiting and it is finally here… Avengers 2. For months now I’ve been hoping for an awesome follow up to the movie that wowed me years ago. I came in with big expectations for this film, and from the trailers my expectations were the following:

  1. Incredible action
  2. Lots of comedic moments
  3. Epic bad guy to tie the story together.

As always, it is my job to report on the movie and determine if it lived up to the hype. So what do you get? Read on to find out!

In terms of action, Avengers 2 delivers the adrenaline rushing excitement that many expect. It opens with a bang as the crew fights off countless extras in an opening mission. These battles are edited well, the camera work stable and attentive to the details to help keep you focused on the battle. The special effects further bring the scenes to life with exciting explosions, blinding lasers, and impressive CGI work that will have your inner geek screaming in delight. However, there are a few weaknesses

Avengers 2 fights are often short lived, quickly ending in an abrupt stop just as the fight is getting good. We saw this in the first movie, but Age of Ultron’s darker tone didn’t fit with this approach. I felt a few of the fights had an epic build up, but quickly faltered, as a rushed pace stopped the fight prematurely. Many of the fights seemed simplistic and lackluster, overshadowed by a comedy montage or intense dialog moment. The finale did have more bang for its buck, but still was a bit diluted for my tastes. Scenes of evacuating citizens constantly interrupted building excitement, and it got old after a while. They also lacked some of the teamwork I was hoping to see,until near the end when they all came together in a surge of power. I’m not saying it was horrible, but it didn’t quite live up to what we saw in the first installment.

For this reviewer, it almost seems like the focus was on the comedy aspect instead. Avengers 2 had many people last night, myself included, busting a gut at the ridiculous situations at hand. One should be able to find some laughs in the movie, whether it be situational slapstick, a funny face or reaction, to the running jokes and well written dialogue. There are plenty of running jokes to take hold of, and the actors bring more humor to life as they deliver their lines with just the right emphasis. And for the most part, I didn’t feel they were forcing the jokes on me, only occasionally crossing into trying to hard to get a laugh (such as the Don Cheadle jokes). One weakness to the comedy though, is I felt it got in the way of the action, sometimes derailing the fight as they stopped to crack a joke. The world would be a much more peaceful place if fighting could stop when someone wanted to tell a joke, but that appears to only happen in movies. Outside of that, some of the jokes they ran a little too far with, but I can’t dock much from that.

Instead, the more disappointing factor was the villain and the story itself. Ultron looked good, his evolution over the course of the film a good representation of the nightmare I expected. The design team did a nice job capturing the metallic menace in his various forms, and even the voice acting was what I envisioned. But that was all overruled by the two big flaws for me. The first is his skills, from the comic books I expected Ultron to be a fighting menace capable of giving the good guys a run for their money. His intelligence was definitely that factor, but his fighting and powers weren’t too impressive, reduced to occasional laser beam firing and some bland punches. I was expecting them to be pushed to the brink of their abilities, with some masterful kill, but that didn’t really happen for me. Second was the story itself, again too rushed to really be engaging or intriguing. Avengers 2 sort of jumped all over the place trying to give character development, while keeping a typical comic book plot going. The developing moments weren’t too bad, if a little awkward, but the Ultron plot was the weakest aspect. He appeared and rose to power to quickly, then would go off the grid to allow the others to get their story time. Then when the big climax came, it was sort of boring, again his threat not that impressive. To me the tale was too philosophical/evolutionary focused, and it made for some lazy storytelling, though the arc itself does tread down this path.

Overall Avengers 2 is fun, exciting, and blasting with action and fun. However, it wasn’t as good as the first one in my opinion, lacking a lot of the balance that first installment had. The story and character weren’t quite as grand as I thought, and interrupting the action took much from the movie. However, I strongly recommend getting into the theater this weekend to catch it, all the special effects make it worth it in the long run.

My scores for this installment are:

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi: 8.5

Movie Overall: 7.5