teaberryblue: (cap)
[personal profile] teaberryblue
After several conversations with [livejournal.com profile] henpecked about the limitations of Tumblr and the way Tumblr's structure discourages in-depth critical thought, I decided I really wanted to move this to LJ.

I kind of want to move a lot of things to LJ. But we're going to start with this. Obviously a lot of spoilers under the cut.

Originally posted here



Though other parts were much better.

With the caveat that it took me a second or third screening of Avengers before I really enjoyed it-- I remember being a bit ambivalent about it the first time I watched it. I would say overall I enjoyed this one and thought it had more good points than bad, but I don't think it was as good a movie as the first, largely because I think it failed at creating a compelling and cohesive narrative in some places, and the first Avengers film has a very solid and consistent narrative through-line. It was one of those cases where the success of the first had removed some limitations and the lack of limitations meant that it got sloppy. This seems to be the general problem with a lot of Marvel things-- the second Iron Man movie is sloppy, the second Thor movie is sloppy. Cap 2 is really the only one to buck the trend of the second installment not being sloppy.

There was also an editorial choppiness to it-- some points didn’t get resolved, some scenes felt like they jumped around too much without making narrative sense. I understand that a LOT of the film got cut, and it felt like a lot got cut.

Also a small caveat that I think I remember the order of everything that happened in the movie but I'm not 100% sure.

The movie starts weak. Up until they reach the farm, the movie is very unfocused, very uneven, and tries to do too many things. The dialogue relies too heavily on blatant exposition and the threads of the story go in too many different directions. There is a turning point, though, and I'd put it at "sometime while they are at/when they leave the farm" for want of a better specific moment.

After that, the story becomes much more cohesive and turns into a really decent ensemble film. With the caveat that the whole premise of having to save a floating city seemed kind of stupid and over the top-- to me, oddly more over the top than having a city get atacked by aliens. It just seemed super bizarre and like something where the creative team must have decided they had to raise the stakes, but didn't know how to top "aliens and nuclear attack AT THE SAME TIME."

Floating city aside though, the sequence and what the characters go to in that sequence is very good. But it does feel a lot like a "fill in the blank threat." I feel like it could have been tied more specifically to the plot of the movie by raising the stakes of Sokovia being Wanda and Pietro's home that they're protecting. In the actual event, that doesn't come up. It should really be evidently raising the emotional stakes for them; there should be a more pointed link between their betrayal of Ultron and his choice to go after Sokovia.

I'm also frustrated by our (American creators', and I’m claiming this for more than the creators of this film because it’s a trend) propensity to use real places when they are American or "glamorous" locations like London or Paris or Moscow, but when we need a random Eastern European city, it's a made up one. I'm not sure if it's a fear of getting the location wrong and offending someone or an ethnocentrism that makes media creators believe these places don't actually exist or are interchangeable. We may get the geography of our own cities (New York, DC) wrong, but we don't even bother with real cities for places that sound remote to us.

Overall, I enjoyed the initial Strucker segment. It was cohesive and made sense and had a clear goal. It also was a good introduction to the twins and a great first segment to show the team working together but also to start expanding on Clint's character. Clint, overall, was great in this, and I'll say more about that in a bit.

I would have liked to see more about the lullabye. How was it developed, how did they realize Natasha could do this? Is it a thing only Natasha can do, or did she volunteer for it? It seemed like a cool concept, and in my own fic, Nat and Bruce developed strategies for her to get him de-Hulked (they involve quoting Camus) so I buy that they could do it, but where's the backstory? I think that could have added a lot to developing their relationship.

I have to say, I laughed all the way through Tony's vision. I felt bad for the other people in the theater because it just was so over the top and everyone else was silent but I really couldn't help laughing. It was just a ridiculously melodramatic scene.

After that, I felt like the whole story started to go in too many different directions.

I have one comment on a line in the movie that I haven’t seen too many people mention but that I felt was troublesome from a stereotype perspective and out of character for the person saying it-- it really bothered me that Hill was given the line “he’s fast and she’s weird.” First off, this is our first introduction to what Wanda does. For people who aren’t familiar with her powers, “weird” hardly explains it, while “fast” is a very good descriptor. Of COURSE Pietro’s speed is easier to quantify, but come on, give me something better than “weird.” It also buys into a kind of reducing-women-to-crazy trope, which of course I’m not keen on. Put in the mouth of Hill, who’s a character who has been shown as being very supportive of other women, it doesn’t seem in-character at all. I could see one of the men saying it, not really thinking, because it’s a stereotype a lot of even really decent men buy into, but it doesn’t make sense for Hill, and it’s reductive of our first exposition re: Wanda’s identity.

There was too much exposition leading up to Ultron, the holographic balls and the CGI grid matrix to represent robot brains was annoying and I feel like that scene could have been much more chilling if it had been done with empty rooms and status displays. The whole montage of Bruce and Tony working before that seemed like a waste of time that could have been better spent on plotty bits-- not that it was unnecessary but it was awfully long for what it was. I liked that it re-established Tony and Bruce’s closeness and trust in each other but it went on too long. I did appreciate the number of different shirts we saw them in, though.

The party scene was cute but unnecessary for a large part, and kind of killed the momentum. I loved Tony and Thor arguing over whose girlfriend was more awesome, and that was a good way to write the women (played by actresses who did not want to sign on for the movie, from what I understand, so they weren't actively excluded) out while reminding people that they're still a very big part of things. I loved Rhodey and Tony-- there were a TON of Rhodey/Tony shippy moments in this movie which I was really stoked about. I usually think of Rhodey as being too much like an older brother to Tony for that to work for me as a ship but here I could totally buy it and it was really nice to see Rhodey getting that kind of love. Also excited to see Sam and Rhodey in the same scene!

(I will say right up that MAN there is a lot of stuff for a lot of different ‘ships in this movie. On top of the canon established ‘ships in the movie, there is a TON of Steve/Tony and a TON of Steve/Wanda and some good Steve/Natasha, Steve/Thor and Steve/Sam moments. There’s good Bruce/Tony and Rhodey/Tony as I mentioned. There’s the obvious Wanda/Pietro and Wanda/Vision but also some Clint/Pietro and Clint/Wanda and you could totally make a case for Clint/Laura/Natasha being a triad based on how obviously close . And a part of me totally wants to read Vision and Friday fic even though I realize that is TOTALLY NOT ESTABLISHED
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<_<).>') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

After several conversations with <user site="livejournal.com" user="henpecked"> about the limitations of Tumblr and the way Tumblr's structure discourages in-depth critical thought, I decided I really wanted to move this to LJ.

I kind of want to move a lot of things to LJ. But we're going to start with this. Obviously a lot of spoilers under the cut.

<a href="http://teaberryblue.tumblr.com/post/117909983444/the-longest-and-most-meandering-review-of-age-of">Originally posted here</a>

<lj-cut text="7000 words and unedited, which is sort of how the movie felt at times.">

Though other parts were much better.

With the caveat that it took me a second or third screening of Avengers before I really enjoyed it-- I remember being a bit ambivalent about it the first time I watched it. I would say overall I enjoyed this one and thought it had more good points than bad, but I don't think it was as good a movie as the first, largely because I think it failed at creating a compelling and cohesive narrative in some places, and the first Avengers film has a very solid and consistent narrative through-line. It was one of those cases where the success of the first had removed some limitations and the lack of limitations meant that it got sloppy. This seems to be the general problem with a lot of Marvel things-- the second Iron Man movie is sloppy, the second Thor movie is sloppy. Cap 2 is really the only one to buck the trend of the second installment not being sloppy.

There was also an editorial choppiness to it-- some points didn’t get resolved, some scenes felt like they jumped around too much without making narrative sense. I understand that a LOT of the film got cut, and it felt like a lot got cut.

Also a small caveat that I think I remember the order of everything that happened in the movie but I'm not 100% sure.

The movie starts weak. Up until they reach the farm, the movie is very unfocused, very uneven, and tries to do too many things. The dialogue relies too heavily on blatant exposition and the threads of the story go in too many different directions. There is a turning point, though, and I'd put it at "sometime while they are at/when they leave the farm" for want of a better specific moment.

After that, the story becomes much more cohesive and turns into a really decent ensemble film. With the caveat that the whole premise of having to save a floating city seemed kind of stupid and over the top-- to me, oddly more over the top than having a city get atacked by aliens. It just seemed super bizarre and like something where the creative team must have decided they had to raise the stakes, but didn't know how to top "aliens and nuclear attack AT THE SAME TIME."

Floating city aside though, the sequence and what the characters go to in that sequence is very good. But it does feel a lot like a "fill in the blank threat." I feel like it could have been tied more specifically to the plot of the movie by raising the stakes of Sokovia being Wanda and Pietro's home that they're protecting. In the actual event, that doesn't come up. It should really be evidently raising the emotional stakes for them; there should be a more pointed link between their betrayal of Ultron and his choice to go after Sokovia.

I'm also frustrated by our (American creators', and I’m claiming this for more than the creators of this film because it’s a trend) propensity to use real places when they are American or "glamorous" locations like London or Paris or Moscow, but when we need a random Eastern European city, it's a made up one. I'm not sure if it's a fear of getting the location wrong and offending someone or an ethnocentrism that makes media creators believe these places don't actually exist or are interchangeable. We may get the geography of our own cities (New York, DC) wrong, but we don't even bother with real cities for places that sound remote to us.

Overall, I enjoyed the initial Strucker segment. It was cohesive and made sense and had a clear goal. It also was a good introduction to the twins and a great first segment to show the team working together but also to start expanding on Clint's character. Clint, overall, was great in this, and I'll say more about that in a bit.

I would have liked to see more about the lullabye. How was it developed, how did they realize Natasha could do this? Is it a thing only Natasha can do, or did she volunteer for it? It seemed like a cool concept, and in my own fic, Nat and Bruce developed strategies for her to get him de-Hulked (they involve quoting Camus) so I buy that they could do it, but where's the backstory? I think that could have added a lot to developing their relationship.

I have to say, I laughed all the way through Tony's vision. I felt bad for the other people in the theater because it just was so over the top and everyone else was silent but I really couldn't help laughing. It was just a ridiculously melodramatic scene.

After that, I felt like the whole story started to go in too many different directions.

I have one comment on a line in the movie that I haven’t seen too many people mention but that I felt was troublesome from a stereotype perspective and out of character for the person saying it-- it really bothered me that Hill was given the line “he’s fast and she’s weird.” First off, this is our first introduction to what Wanda does. For people who aren’t familiar with her powers, “weird” hardly explains it, while “fast” is a very good descriptor. Of COURSE Pietro’s speed is easier to quantify, but come on, give me something better than “weird.” It also buys into a kind of reducing-women-to-crazy trope, which of course I’m not keen on. Put in the mouth of Hill, who’s a character who has been shown as being very supportive of other women, it doesn’t seem in-character at all. I could see one of the men saying it, not really thinking, because it’s a stereotype a lot of even really decent men buy into, but it doesn’t make sense for Hill, and it’s reductive of our first exposition re: Wanda’s identity.

There was too much exposition leading up to Ultron, the holographic balls and the CGI grid matrix to represent robot brains was annoying and I feel like that scene could have been much more chilling if it had been done with empty rooms and status displays. The whole montage of Bruce and Tony working before that seemed like a waste of time that could have been better spent on plotty bits-- not that it was unnecessary but it was awfully long for what it was. I liked that it re-established Tony and Bruce’s closeness and trust in each other but it went on too long. I did appreciate the number of different shirts we saw them in, though.

The party scene was cute but unnecessary for a large part, and kind of killed the momentum. I loved Tony and Thor arguing over whose girlfriend was more awesome, and that was a good way to write the women (played by actresses who did not want to sign on for the movie, from what I understand, so they weren't actively excluded) out while reminding people that they're still a very big part of things. I loved Rhodey and Tony-- there were a TON of Rhodey/Tony shippy moments in this movie which I was really stoked about. I usually think of Rhodey as being too much like an older brother to Tony for that to work for me as a ship but here I could totally buy it and it was really nice to see Rhodey getting that kind of love. Also excited to see Sam and Rhodey in the same scene!

(I will say right up that MAN there is a lot of stuff for a lot of different ‘ships in this movie. On top of the canon established ‘ships in the movie, there is a TON of Steve/Tony and a TON of Steve/Wanda and some good Steve/Natasha, Steve/Thor and Steve/Sam moments. There’s good Bruce/Tony and Rhodey/Tony as I mentioned. There’s the obvious Wanda/Pietro and Wanda/Vision but also some Clint/Pietro and Clint/Wanda and you could totally make a case for Clint/Laura/Natasha being a triad based on how obviously close . And a part of me totally wants to read Vision and Friday fic even though I realize that is TOTALLY NOT ESTABLISHED <_<).

The conversation between Nat and Bruce here worked for me a lot more than the lullabye thing did. You got the real sense that they've been dancing around each other for an entire year and Nat is sick of it and is laying it on thick because she's so frustrated with Bruce. She is trying to get him to give her a clear yes or no, and it's clear that he has been evading that for a really long time. We've already seen her ask when he'll start trusting her and we know that she thinks she's the problem, that she's the reason he won't act, even though he’s said she’s not. It shows a little bit of that humanity, that insecurity that Natasha sometimes hints at (“I only act like I know everything.”) but rarely actually reveals, that people still see her as what Loki said she was, what she was afraid Steve thought she was. I enjoyed it also because I also felt like it really turned the tables on typical romantic tropes-- she's the one doing the heavy pursuit, she's the one actively asking him if her pursuit is welcome, she's the one doing the cornball flirting-- cornball flirting that was really in line with her cornball sense of humor in Winter Soldier. I love seeing romantic dynamics that defy typical gender roles and this was great for that.

I was a little bit bothered that the movie didn’t deal with the consequences of what Natasha did at the end of Winter Soldier at all. She released all of that information, and that should have come up in a movie about a villain whose powers involve manipulating and destroying information. I would also expect to see more from her in terms of how being in the spotlight instead of the shadows has changed who she is, because there was no returning to the shadows after that. But one thing I did notice was that she seemed much more confident in who she was. I’ve talked at length before about how Natasha puts on and removes identities after some calculation, and that seemed to be gone in this movie. She’s one person for more or less the entire duration of the film; she’s not putting on masks at all. She’s very much more the person we see joking with Steve in Winter Soldier, when she’s at her most comfortable, from the beginning to the end, even at the points when she’s unhappy. She’s not a spy anymore; she’s become something else. I’m not sure what that is, but it seems to suit her, and she’s become the person who can absolutely be Steve’s second-in-command and deputy as she often has been in the comics, which is great.

Steve talking to Bruce was sweet, too. I normally don't go in for friends meddling in romantic stuff but in this case, he's been watching them for a year and he LOVES Natasha. Loves loves loves her. And I'm sure she's told him more than he's letting on.

Nat and Steve's relationship throughout the film is solid and carried over well from The Winter Soldier. I felt like all the team dynamics and how they were built over the past year were believable and well-drawn. Lines like "he's still Barton" we're really good at conveying that. But I especially thought that the way the other team members had mastered working with Steve and his shield was a really illustrative character point that is an excellent one for Steve: it shows Steve's natural inclination toward teamwork and leadership, that he's worked with each of his teammates to combine their skills to make them each more powerful. It's great.



The scene with just the Avengers after the party was a better scene for me, as far as feeling like a nice, solid space to get a good sense of the team dynamics at this point in the story. I felt like it could have served both roles and the hubbub of the party scene could have been taken out.

--ALSO FONDUE. I've got to know if fondue is now a staple of Avengers dinners since Steve told them the embarrassing fondue story one night. CLEARLY. CLEARLY IT HAPPENED.

I know people have had very harsh feelings about the prima nocta line but unlike the whore line in GotG that I wrote a very long meta about in relation to its inappropriateness in the film overall, the prima nocta one worked for me. Unnecessary and tasteless? Absolutely. But Tony is conducting a scientific experiment. He is deliberately saying something that he knows, absolutely, makes him unfit to rule Asgard. He's convinced there's a scientific trick to how Mjolnir works, and he's trying to suss it out, so he's saying the most awful thing he can think of, and something that directly affects Asgard. He's trying to create the ideal lab conditions. This obviously wasn't clear to people and that's a problem, but it made a lot of sense in-character knowing Tony's predilections for taking the scientific anti-magic route. The rest of this scene was cute and worked for me much better than the preceding bits. And it set up what was one of the best moments of the film later.

Though I am surprised that it's been a year and they haven't all tried this before.

And then we get Ultron! I thought this scene, too, had too much exposition and too much kind of Michael-Bay-esque fighting. The action portion of the scene was too long, and then we devolved into more exposition.

Here's a place where I want to criticize the movie's direct line of character development. Tony's line of thinking throughout this movie, that he needs to protect the world, makes perfect sense. He's not emotionally recovered from what happened to him, and while he was doing better at the end of IM 3, Wanda threw him back into that place. But we don't have any narrative explanation for why he rebuilt the suits, created the Iron Legion, any of that. That's all pre-Wanda. I'd have liked an explanation.

Some of the other characters' development followed their previous movie arcs a lot better. Natasha's actively trying to do the figuring out who she is that was her goal at the end of Winter Soldier, though, like I said, I thought it was weird that she seemed to be back to being incognito and I think that would have been hard after the Senate hearing. Steve's story arc in this film follows Winter Soldier rather well-- we know he and Sam are still looking for Bucky, and his character shows increasing distrust in the government and very much is opposed to the idea of pre-emptive strikes in a way that I really thoroughly enjoyed and was a good comment on some problems with the way the US military has acted over the past couple of decades. Tony's wasn't completely unbelievable but I would have liked some more explanation, like with the lullabye thing.

I really read Tony as pretty broken throughout the movie, which was a big backslide from how he was doing at the end of IM3. He's fixated in an unhealthy way-- though this could also be more signs of his addictive personality. The problem-- though perhaps something that happens in real life when friends are faced with someone suffering from mental illness-- is that everyone treats him like he's still the same Tony Stark he always was, and he's very much not, at least when it comes to his obsession with protecting everything.

Anyway, from here we get to one of my favorite moments in the movie, which is the fact that they actually PULL A CRIMSON COWL.

In spite of disliking the Ultron-kills-JARVIS scene as far as the way it was filmed, I loved how closely this cleaved to the original Ultron storyline in many ways: Ultron takes over JARVIS just like Ultron brainwashed Jarvis in the comics, and this scene where they actually recreate the crimson cowl bit is just fantastic. His revelation of himself to Wanda and Pietro is great here. I did really like the way Wanda's attempts to get into the minds of the AI characters in this was used. It worked beautifully and was one of the best uses of her powers in the film.

But then we get one of the most extraneous scenes in the film. Welcome to "Hi,we're making a Black Panther movie, and we're going to advertise that using a character and the name of a fictional country that really, only the comics fans in the audience are going to know, so everyone else is going to be sitting there going "what the fuck is going on?" and not realize they're being shown a teaser for something COMING SOON TO A MARVEL MOVIE NEAR YOU.

I *did* like Ultron’s “evil plans” line. That was perfectly timed and perfectly delivered. Man.

Anyway, I really thought that Pietro's powers were very well-used here and throughout the movie while Wanda's were uneven. I felt like her telekinetic powers were used really well, but her telepathic powers were used very poorly. Neither Steve's nor Natasha's served narrative purpose, and while they were interesting to see, neither of them really added to the story, and having them all shown at the same time like that all combined together, really was a failure on the part of the story. I know they wanted to get through the "Evil Twins" part of the story and get to them fighting on the same side fairly quickly, but imagine if the visions had been used as narrative beats in different places in the story. They could have been used to access memories, helpfully, if they'd been done after Wanda joined them. It could have given the story more of a structure that it sorely lacked. Thor's made very little sense and while I was happy to see Heimdall there was not much narrative cohesion, and this was for what purpose? To show us the Infinity Gems, clearly-- and then Thor goes on a weird gratuitous sidequest that doesn't really seem to have any stakes and is purely for exposition and so that we can see Erik Selvig for two seconds? Not necessary. I know, I know it’s supposed to set up Ragnarok, but that was COMPLETELY OPAQUE and really did no favors to the regular moviegoing crowd. I feel like we would have been better served by having Wanda instigate something to trigger an actual memory so Thor could see something, on purpose, as part of their work together.

Thor as a whole was seriously neglected, storywise, here. He had some great lines and great battle moments but had very little of his own narrative or an interesting direction for his character. He was kind of just there. It felt like they didn’t know what to do with him and he was flailing. It was nice to see Heimdall, though!

All righty, so then we get Hulk Hulking out and this was pretty swell. I did like this scene and it's certainly one of Bruce's-- and all the Avengers'-- biggest fears. I liked, too the idea that Bruce and Tony had been working together to combat this, to try to solve a problem that they knew would come up eventually. And I liked that Bruce was as much responsible for the Hulkbuster as Tony was. It shows a ton about how their relationship has progressed. I loved that. I really felt like this would have been a lot more solid if we’d gotten ONE vision and then the hulkout and the other visions had happened at other points in the film.

I also really, really would have liked to see more of what Bruce saw. What Bruce saw when Wanda went into his brain is so important to him as a character, it would have been fantastic. It’s actually a vision that I think could have been more important to the film that Steve’s, certainly.

OKAY. ON TO CLINT’S FARM.

This was fantastic. It was such a great way to explore a character’s background in a way that made sense and added an element of humanity to the character. I’ve seen people mention that this is Ults Clint, but it’s not. It’s not 616 Clint or Ults Clint. I got the real sense that this was a Clint that 616 Clint would want to be, if he thought he could. One of the things I really liked about this read on Clint was how many of the character traits really reminded me of 616 Clint. He’s still a giant pain in the butt, he’s goofy as hell, but super competent in the field-- that last shot with him lying on the seats, exhausted, was just so classic Clint. The look on his face when he realizes he has to save the kid? Also classic Clint. But this is a classic Clint who has a different private life, and it makes sense that out of six people, one of them would be able to maintain a “normal” life, and I’m so happy it’s him.

I loved that Natasha knew and knew his kids and Laura and I have so many thoughts about the other nuances this adds to her rescue of him in Avengers-- that she knows she has to be the one to go after him because she’s the one who knows he has a family. I also have so many ideas now about how Clint, when he first brought Nat over, took her to the farm instead of directly to SHIELD. There would be no better way to get Nat to trust someone than to invite her into his family. And show her that vulnerability. And man, it was just great. I loved Laura, and I got the sense that she and Nat are really close, too, and that’s wonderful. More female friendships! Nat with nephews and a niece! It’s perfect and really changes the game in a way where you really understand what Clint is sacrificing.

And man what a great little nod to 616 Clint with the getting Tony to fix the tractor bit. And I am 100% convinced the tractor is sentient now.

Also, HEY NICK FURY. I don’t have anything super profound to say about Fury’s inclusion. It was solid as usual.

Laura also is obviously a badass.

I was mostly let down by the scenes at the farm, though. The Steve/Tony scene didn’t deliver the way I expected it to. I liked it, but I was expecting Steve to let his guard down a bit more or call Tony on his shit a bit more. The Nat/Bruce scene started strong but devolved into sloppiness that made me feel like something had been cut. I know a lot of people read that scene as implying that being infertile makes a woman a monster and while I don’t think that was intended, the juxtaposition of those lines combined with the fact that we know she deliberately failed completely validates that reading-- it is perfectly reasonable to me that someone would read that scene as saying that she failed on purpose because she wanted children or didn’t want to be sterilized. While I don’t think that’s what they were trying to say, everyone reading it that way is well within their rights.

I also have two other major complaints about that scene stemming from that line. One, it really bothers me when I see a scene where one romantic partner says that they can’t have a family, and the other one’s answer is “that’s okay, neither can I.” It’s a terrible trope. It suggests that loving someone doesn’t get past something like infertility. It suggests there aren’t solutions for that. It tells people that “that’s okay, neither can I,” is a better thing to say that “I don’t care because I love you” or “I am choosing you and the rest will sort itself out.” It makes the end game biological reproduction and we’re talking about Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner. Bruce, in another life, I can see wanting children, and maybe that’s why it occurs to him to say it. Natasha? No.

I also, from a purely personal perspective, am a fan of infertile Natasha as a thing, but I’m also a much bigger fan of it as a conscious choice she made for herself. That I could write another huge essay as long as this already huge essay about.

But yeah, this scene was one of the big weak points of the film. I don’t think it said what it was intended to say, but there’s really only so far intent can take you. I definitely winced at that line.

I was SO SO SO RELIEVED when they packed up and left and no one was hurt. I spent the whole time they were at the farm tense and worried Laura would be fridged, that they’d kill Clint’s family. So glad they didn’t.

Okay so now what? Cho. Helen Cho. Really liked the character, wished they’d given her more to do. I hope her crush on Thor doesn’t preclude Amadeus’ existence. Really liked this as the 180 from Wanda and Pietro. Loved Wanda’s decision here. Loved how she enacted it.

I feel like everyone working with the Avengers would have learned to wear something over their heart to keep the fucking Mind Gem out by now, though.

I was frustrated that we didn’t get resolution with Helen-- we only see her for a split-second at the end and I would have liked a bit more there.

But that’s also an example on one of the spots in this movie that was just sloppy. There should have been something to resolve that.

I did, however, really love the progression with the twins. And I love their relationship, the way they have to say so little to each other, and how close they are-- they’re clearly very emotionally close, very loving toward each other, and very reliant on each other, but it never crosses that line where it becomes overtly incestuous. I felt like it wouldn’t trigger anybody’s personal squicks but provided enough fodder for someone who enjoys that relationship as a romance, too. (I’m not 100% on this, since it’s neither a squick nor a kink of mine, but it never pinged as obviously incestuous while also being really, genuinely close and loving)

I thought Wanda’s choice was so well-depicted, her and Helen’s joint act of defiance as a team was fantastic. And I really loved Steve’s response, the way Steve absolutely just went along and trusted them when they changed allegiance. That moment, the moment where Steve accepts that they’re with him, is just great.

I really did like the fact that Steve stuck up for the twins even before they had changed allegiance. He understood exactly why they did what they did-- his own distrust in government making him empathize with them. It shows a lot of Steve’s strength of character and morality, that he never saw them as wrong, and his belief in them when they realize that Ultron is not what they thought is was is really one of the high points re: character moments for me in the movie.

I really wasn’t keen on a lot of the action sequences in this-- the army of robots just meant there was TOO MUCH going on at any given time. We did have the Chitauri scene at the end of the Avengers but that was only one large scene, and for some reason the big murderbot scenes in this just got repetitive after a while. Too much visually going on on the screen in a lot of the shots, too, made it hard to focus at times.

BUT the cradle transfer did have a really great Natasha moment. I really liked her apologizing to Clint and getting herself nabbed so they’d be able to track Ultron. And Clint’s response was great, too-- he immediately knew she’d done something like that. It was a perfect Natasha moment of calculating and planning something without telling anyone else what she was doing because in spite of the fact that they’re working so well as a team, she knows they wouldn’t let her do that--and she knows that if Ultron knew it was deliberate, he wouldn’t take her-- AND THEN SHE BUILT A RADIO. IN A CAVE. WITH A BOX OF SCRAPS.

I love you, Natasha.

So. VISION. Man, I think everyone I know loves Vision. He was fantastic. Bettany was on point-- really, all the new characters were, but GOSH VISION. The scene with them squaring off about whether to upload JARVIS or not was great; this was a moment where you could really see the cracks in Tony.

Though again, the whole thing with the exposition from Thor was annoying. I know a certain amount of exposition is necessary in a film, but it was how the exposition was delivered. They really may as well have just been like “Well, we’re going to be making another film in which…” The exposition on the gems felt much more natural and organic in Guardians of the Galaxy.

BUT I really, really enjoyed Vision idolizing Thor. The patterning the cape off Thor’s was fantastic, and it wasn’t a relationship I expected at all. Good job, Vision, you have excellent taste in Avengers.

But Vision’s introduction was perfect, and I’d like to point out here that we are introduced to Vision’s powers without ANY exposition telling us what they are-- we are shown them in a quite short amount of time, and they’re illustrated beautifully, without us needing to hear them enumerated for us.

I also just want to mention that I really love how clear it’s made that Wanda can see into Vision’s mind when she couldn’t see into Ultron’s-- that Vision is something entirely new, and that he has something like humanity, even if he’s not human. The contrasts between the AIs are just great in this, in spite of my dislike of the visual depiction of them in the scene where Ultron invades JARVIS. They’re raising a lot of questions about humanity and what makes humanity, and I think it’s meant to contrast with the questions the Avengers are asking themselves about their own nature (the whole everyone identifying as monsters thing or talking about their darker natures that keeps happening), but it falls flat for the humans and works beautifully for the robots.

But then he picks up the hammer. And part of me wonders if he can pick up the hammer because he is in part Thor’s child, and because he sees Thor as someone to model himself after, or if he would have been worthy no matter what.

I knew someone was going to pick up the hammer by the end, but I expected it to be Natasha, because of her refusal to lift it. But Vision seems like SUCH the obvious answer now that I’ve seen it. And it was such a fantastic moment, it was probably the single moment with the most unified response from the moviegoers in my theater.

So now we’ve got Nat radioing Clint, and we’re gearing up for the final showdown.

Can I mention again how LUDICROUS this final showdown is? It’s just...it seems entirely designed for visuals and not at all for story structure or narrative sensibility. Lots of pretty falling people and buildings and cars, and of course we get the helicarrier back, but I just found the entire premise of floating the city into the air and dropping it to be insanely stupid.

Also just a drive-by “I love FRIDAY” and I was really excited to see her show up in the MCU. As much as I love JARVIS, FRIDAY was around for some of my favorite IM comic stories and I literally freaked out when I saw Tony install her. For a little while I wasn’t sure if I had imagined it, and then he said her name and I was just SUPER STOKED.

But I also need to say that one thing that disappointed me was I didn’t feel like they spent enough time exploring Tony’s personal relationships with his AIs. Sure, they talk about it on a surface level but I really expected to see more grief over JARVIS’ death, I expected to see the other Avengers treat Tony like he’d lost a friend. That was a major character death-- JARVIS has been with us in five movies including this one-- more than anyone but Tony himself-- and I don’t think we got enough attention on that.

Bruce recovering Natasha was a really great scene. That kiss was one of the best movie kisses I’ve seen in a while-- it was such a perfect example of Natasha’s complex relationship with other humans and of how Natasha’s experience with Bruce and the Hulk has evolved since they met, how unafraid she is of him. I also really, really liked the declaration “I adore you.” It’s such a Nat declaration, so on point-- she’s very careful about language. She uses a more descriptive, less-loaded word than “love” to get across the exact nature of her affection for him.

From that point, we get propelled into another one of those too-busy, muddled action sequences that has a few really great points balanced by bits that felt a bit too busy in a Michael-Bay-Transformers-esque way. I liked the bits with them rescuing more than the bits with them fighting, and the point where the helicarrier shows up, after they’ve all sort of accepted their fates, is GREAT. But then the moment with Clint and Wanda was SUCH a high point.

I really loved Clint’s role throughout the movie but his relationships with the twins were both very different and very good. I liked the rivalry-turned-friendship with Pietro and the way he very much ends up being a mentor to Wanda. You can see in the way he treats Wanda how he might have won Natasha over all those years ago and that’s fantastic, that extrapolation.

But Clint, going out there and fighting the robots with just his bow and arrow and giving Wanda the time she needed to emotionally pull herself together, and then how very brave Wanda was once she came into her own was great. One of the things I like very much about Wanda’s early appearances in the comics is that she’s very much a character for whom the fact that she’s still learning her powers, that she’s not always certain of them, is so important, and they really used that to great effect in the film as well. Wanda taking that final stand, being the one who guards the pillar, and how she reassures Pietro and tells him to go, and basically makes it clear that she’s willing to sacrifice herself is such a great character moment.

Aside: I’m thrilled that Rhodey is actually War Machine again. WARMACHINEROX WITH AN X.

I cared a lot, lot less about them stopping the dropping city from falling or the final battle with Ultron than I did about Clint rescuing the little boy and Pietro’s death and Hulk running away.

Let’s go backward: Hulk running away. This is a really important bit for Hulk’s character arc, because it shows the extent to which Bruce and Hulk’s consciousnesses are becoming more unified. Bruce has been the one who wants to run all this time, but here, Hulk is the one who locks himself in the quinjet and doesn’t look back. The idea that Hulk’s awareness, when he’d been transformed accidentally (by Natasha pushing him) has grown to the point that he can make that decision communicates a lot about how far he’s come.

Clint rescuing the kid is just this terribly heartbreaking moment, because you can see him doing the calculation, see him realizing that maybe he can do this, but he might not make it back, and then when they start getting shot at, he knows he can’t move in time and it’s terrible.

And then Pietro steps in and that was a perfect movie death. It wasn’t wasted, it was for a reason, and the reason tied to both his character and his story as well as to his relationship with his sister. We know how affected he was by what happened to his parents, and him choosing-- knowing he’s going to die here, and doing it to keep a family together is really powerful. We also saw him realize that his sister was willing to sacrifice everything, and that was an important moment for him, too, and I think aided his decision. And it came around quite beautifully from the beginning where he was responsible for getting Clint shot to him laying down his life to protect Clint. It was a character death well-used.

Wanda’s response was great, too-- I expected it to be bigger, especially knowing Whedon and the overuse of Wanda’s powers in the comics, but it was measured in a way that reeled her in from her comics self both in power and emotionality, which was a good move. It read as pure grief, not madness, and that’s exactly the right balance for Wanda to be a strong character.

Again, I felt like the actual battle with Ultron, and the destruction of the floating city-- come on, you knew that was going to succeed, it didn’t have nearly the same kind of stakes, especially once the people were on the little rescue raft things. It just didn’t feel as urgent; it felt like something to be ticked off on a checkbox, which was a bit of a letdown, but at the same time it was okay, because the personal aspect of the battle had all been so good.

Clint crawling into that seat, beside Pietro’s dead body, was a really good Clint moment, and also heartbreaking.

And then, of course, Clint going home was great. I really do like the idea of an Avenger with a normal life outside of avenging. It’s nice to know that one of them has something they can go home to.

The roundup at the end left a little to be desired. I wasn’t totally sold on the lack of consequence for Tony. His head was REALLY all over the place during that film and while I don’t really blame him for it-- he was deeply hurt-- it makes me feel uneasy to see him leave with a lot unresolved. Clearly we have a new facility so it’s been some months, so maybe it was, but we didn’t see it, and I would have liked to.

But I did like Nick’s scene with Natasha at the end, and I really liked Steve and Natasha leading the Avengers together. I’m excited for the new team lineup and interested to see where they go with it-- though, given that the next time we’ll see them is in Civil War, I’m not sure how long we’re going to have this lineup for. I guess we’ll see.

So, 6600 words later, and I *know* I’ve left out points I wanted to make, this is a very TL;DR way of saying that there was a lot in the movie I enjoyed but a lot of it that didn’t cohere and a few moments that I really disliked. I think there’s more good than bad in it, but since a lot of the bad was structural, it’s hard to get around. Fortunately, a lot of the good was in character development, which is what makes for more interesting fanwork.

</lj-cut>

I was originally planning on talking about what I would do differently, but this got too long. Feel free to ask if you want to!

Profile

teaberryblue: (Default)
teaberryblue

July 2015

S M T W T F S
   1234
5 67891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags