Tag Archives: Movie Review

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

I’m not going to convince you to see, or not see, Age of Ultron. I’m not going to spoil anything for you either. I’m just giving you three bullets:

  • AvengersUltronI have a new favorite movie for 2015 (as of this writing.)
  • It earned its high and low points.
  • Marvel has successfully extended their line of credit with me through their next two cinematic releases, no matter what those releases are*.

If you’re planning to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron you are in for a treat. Also, be warned that there are spoilers you definitely don’t want, so don’t delay, and until you see the film you should steer clear of reviews, comments threads, and inconsiderate people.

Once you’ve seen it, and you see that both Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman worked on the score, you may wish to pick up the soundtrack which is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play (it’s 50 cents cheaper from Google and Amazon.) I’m listening to it as I write…

(*note: Ant Man and Captain America: Civil War. I checked. Not that it would have mattered.)



The Daring, Marvelous, Marvel/Netflix Daredevil

I’ll keep this as spoiler-free as possible. The Daredevil series on Netflix is worth the investment in a Netflix membership. It’s richer and more powerful than any cinematic superhero story, and while it is dark, it is not the trendy kind of dark. It’s the kind of dark a good storyteller uses so that when we get light, the light is blinding and brilliant.

If you don’t mind spoilers, this discussion of Catholicism in Daredevil is worth reading. If you’ve already finished the series that article will deepen your understanding and appreciation of the series.

The story of Daredevil goes well beyond what’s actually in those 13 episodes, and I’m not talking about what’s coming next season. The very existence of that story, in that format, on Netflix, is the beginning of a much broader narrative about the future of entertainment.

I’ll stand by that statement.

Back in 2013 Kevin Spacey said similar things when he talked about how House of Cards couldn’t be the show they wanted it to be without Netflix freeing them from the “shoot a pilot episode” business model of the networks. Here he is, saying those things.

I got chills when I first watched the excerpted version of Spacey’s speech back in 2013 (full version is here.) I watched it again last night after finishing Daredevil and I am convinced that Kevin Spacey has correctly prognosticated the future of the entertainment industry. House of Cards (which I don’t much like, but that’s irrelevant) and Daredevil serve as proof that Netflix can provide a superior business model for episodic storytelling, and that by so doing they’ll give us better stories.

We talk about storytelling quite a bit over at Writing Excuses.  Brandon, Dan, Mary, and I have recorded well over fifty hours of discussion in bite-sized chunks, and one thing we keep coming back to is the power that can be wielded by storytellers who know what they’re doing, and who have the skills and the space in which to do it. Episodic television has gotten much better in the last twenty years, and it will get far, far better once it finally breaks the shackles of legacy network business practices.

That doesn’t mean that all the stories will be great ones. It means that the great ones are going to amaze us. I’m really looking forward to this.

Furious 7

Let me preface this by saying that I was saddened by Paul Walker’s passing, more than a little conflicted at the tragic irony of the manner of his death, and that I haven’t really been following the whole Fast, Furious, and Franchised story.

Furious7This means that despite the over-the-top action and comic book physics of Furious 7, things that should aim it straight at me, I’m only a peripheral member of the film’s target audience.

With that out of the way: Ugh.

Furious 7 spent far too much time wallowing in manufactured drama that it did not bother to earn. The film seemed to assume that I had been passionately tracking the various F&F character arcs, and was eager to be dropped straight into the kind of moist-eyed, conflicted navel-gazing that most films take an act and a half to set up.

My viewing experience can be summed up as follows.

  1. They are talking a LOT. I’ll try to care.
  2. Nope. Caring isn’t going to work for me. GET BACK IN THE CARS.
  3. Yay cars! And fighting! Why is there shaky cam? I can’t see what’s going on!
  4. Go to 1.

This went on for two hours and ten minutes, followed by a weird meander into a tribute to Paul Walker which, had it been any more thinly veiled would have been a documentary. And then the credits rolled, and 140 minutes felt far too long for what was basically a set-piece superhero-heist where all of the super powers are indistinguishable flavors of “make cars do absurd things” and “walk away from a rollover that any highway patrolman can tell you is not survivable.”

I’m glad that Paul Walker’s friends got to turn the end of the movie into a farewell, because that’s a nice thing, and I believe more people should be nice, but it felt like it belonged at the end of a different movie.

Furious 7 committed a couple of unforgivable sins: It jumbled up Jason Statham’s fight scenes with jitter-cam, and then did the same thing to Rhonda Rousey’s fight. These are both top-notch physical performers, and their appearances were squandered. That’s sin #1 (though it should count as two.) Sin #2 is that the film took itself very seriously while still expecting me to believe in parachuting cars that can hit a remote mountain highway.

The good news is that I finally have a 2015 film that drops below my threshold of disappointment, providing  the beginnings of symmetry to this year’s list.


HOMEI really liked Home, though it surprised me straight out of the gate with an unexpected, and pretty hard-to-swallow premise: the aliens invade and relocate the humans to Australia, and the human military is nowhere to be seen.

To quote Harrison Ford, on the set of Star Wars when Mark Hamill had a continuity concern, “Hey, kid… it ain’t that kind of movie.”

So… my expectations were set very early on, and then the movie proceeded to do wonderful things. I had a great time. Rihanna performed brilliantly as Tip, and Jim Parsons managed to sell “deep and meaningful” while nailing “silly” in his voicing of Oh.

I’ll admit, things were just a little too “tidy” for my tastes (How to Train Your Dragon spoiled me) but the film was delightful, and not only clears my Threshold of Awesome, it scoots every other film down a notch by being the most fun I’ve had in the theater so far this year.