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Avengers: Age of Ultron - Spoiler-free-spoiled-movie review

Nathan Strum


So, I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron last night.


Okay, to be fair - I actually went this morning. Midnight is "technically" morning.


I usually don't go in for first-day screenings, but thought it would be fun.


It wasn't.


I wish I hadn't bothered.




Well, it wasn't the audience. There was a good audience there, including some students from the college I work at. So the comic book nerd factor was pretty high. That was good.


It wasn't the seating. Even though the place was pretty full, I managed to get a good seat. So that was good.


Snacks were incredibly expensive. But they were good anyway. And besides, you don't go to the movies to save money. You go to have fun.


I didn't.


You see, it's entirely possible that Avengers: Age of Ultron is a good movie. It probably is. Parts of it looked fun. What I could see of it.


Which, according to this article and this one was somewhere between 15% and 50% the film.


The problem was that I saw it in 2D, at a theater which left the stupid 3D lens on the projector. What's happening is, you're effectively watching one-eye's worth of a 3D movie, through a rapidly flickering polarizing lens. Half the brightness. If you're lucky.


Even while the trailers were running (which I'd seen online) I kept thinking, "Is that dark? That looks dark. Maybe I'm remembering the trailer wrong." But it was clear, or rather, it wasn't, that by the time the movie was underway the movie was too dark. Far too dark. Every scene was dim, washed out and blurry (a "ghosting" effect is part of the problem of running a 2D movie on a projector set up for 3D). Only daylight scenes were reasonably bright, and any action was blurry and impossible to follow.


Now, I should have gotten up and walked out, gone to the manager, and demanded they fix it. But that's like going to the manager of a McDonald's and complaining because their food tastes like crap. It's completely pointless. Plus, I kept hoping it would get better. But it never did.


It ruined the entire movie. I could never get it out of my head that "I wish I could see this better". And it particularly drives me crazy because I work with digital cinema files. I know how this stuff is supposed to work, and how amazing it can look. Last weekend I was able to run our annual screening of 162 student films, running 6 1/2 hours, on a projector that costs less than a tenth of what a movie theater projector does, and it looked far better than what I saw last night. I'm in the process of making a digital cinema file for another screening in Hollywood at the Director's Guild of America theater next week. It's not rocket science. This is a well-established standard with rules. You can bet that theater will get it right. But not your local multiplex.


I e-mailed the theater chain to complain. I've done so before, and they sent me some free tickets. Whoopee. I'd rather they fix the problem. But again, it's like expecting McDonald's to not taste like crap. Ain't gonna happen. There are a lot of movies I'd like to go see this year. Now I'm wondering if I'm even going to bother.


Plus, now I have to find a decent theater to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Because as far as I'm concerned - I still haven't seen it.


It was an Edwards theater. Part of the Regal group. So my recommendation - go anywhere else. And read the articles I linked to first. If the picture looks dim, get out, and get your money back.


Edwards Valencia Stadium 12 gets a 0/10.


Avengers: Age of Ultron gets... well, I haven't seen it yet.


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I'd like to see it, but I honestly don't know where to go where the same problem won't happen again (it's happened to me before). Maybe when I'm in Hollywood next week I'll find some reputable theater to go to.


I was surprised at how incredibly disrupting it was. It was like watching it on an old, dying TV set where the picture is so dim you can't see anything. I couldn't think about anything else, and the blurriness made action impossible to follow. Also, not mentioned in the review, was that the volume was far too low. Dialog was drowned out by the rustling of peoples' popcorn.


One thing I can tell you about the movie - you don't need to stay all the way through the end of the credits. There's nothing there. There's a short scene after the initial credits, but once the main credits start rolling, there's nothing left to see.

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I saw it last night in full 3D, but compared to the first one I thought it was rather stressfull. Not 100% sure why, but it might've been that the camera is closer to the action than it was in the first one. So in theory I assume it should improve a little when watching it in 2D next time - at least I'm looking forward to that.


Regarding the movie itself, I think they paid more attention to detail and put more thought into the story in the first one. Still reaching 90% of the mark set by the first one, which is quite okay for a sequel ;)

The biggest question remaining: Why did the Black Widow wear a Tron costume? Because they were fighting Ul-Tron?!? :lolblue:

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BTW: Any thoughts on the Ant-Man trailer already? Here it left the impression it plays in the league of Ghost Rider 2 or Amazing Spiderman 2. Actually they should probably call it Amazing Ant-Man for a warning. Of course, maybe it's just a bad trailer ;)


Not that the Fant4stic trailer looks any better... :lol:

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The Ant-Man trailer actually got a few good laughs in the theater I was in, so I'm hoping it's a lighter, funnier movie. Reportedly, it's supposed to be. I'm not all that excited about it, but I'll go see it. If I can find a not-horrible theater.


As for the camera being closer - yes, I noticed that as well. It makes movies difficult to watch on a large screen. There may be two reasons for this: 1) if it's shot in full frame for IMAX, then part of the picture gets cropped out for widescreen theaters, resulting in tighter framing, and 2) most movies are now pre-visualized and shot digitally, previewed on set, special effects created and final editing done using HD monitors. So they're conceived, created and finished on relatively small monitors seen at an arm's length. We have a generation of cinematographers now who are used to thinking on that scale - not on the grand scale of a proper movie theater screen. So films are produced, effectively, on TVs. When they get blown up to the big screen, it doesn't translate. The first film I really noticed this with was Speed Racer. It was clearly meant for HDTVs - not a 30 foot high movie screen.

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Never saw Kingsman. The trailers looked fun, but I kept hearing that the violence in it was quite graphic, and I can do without that.

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The violence level in Kingsman is comparable to Kick Ass I think. It's also done in a total OTT 'comic' style, e.g. a scene with exploding heads looked more like fireworks than blood splashing. A typical Game of Thrones episode shows worse things :)

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Kingsman was awesome, worth your time to see. Yeah there was violence, but a lot was tongue in cheek like the exploding heads.



From here (though I don't recommend you read that if you might see the movie, lots of spoilers).


Even before them, you pushed some boundaries by exploding an enormous amount of heads. Was the visual always going to be the colored smoke we see?


With the heads exploding, I wrote the line saying something like, “And then all of the bad guys’ heads start to explode in a Busby Berkeley firework display.” So I always imagined it to be beautiful and brief. I went to three effects houses because the first two kept going what I call “Cronenberg-Scanners style,” sort of messy with brains. I said, “Guys, that’s disgusting. I don’t want that. I keep saying I want surreal and beautiful, like the nicest fireworks.” I wanted people to forget what they’re looking at and enjoy it. Three effects houses later, it was the first thing I previz-ed and the last thing we got ready before delivery. Once we got it right, people seemed to really like it. I haven’t had one complaint about it, which is a good sign.

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The violence level in Kingsman is comparable to Kick Ass I think.


I thought some of the violence in that was needlessly cruel. Yes, there's over-the-top stuff in there too, but I'm just tired of filmmakers pushing violence for the sake of violence. Monty Python, Death Race 2000 (the original) had over-the-top violence that was comedic. Much of it now just seems sadistic. Not interested in spending my hard-earned money to have my senses assaulted.


A typical Game of Thrones episode shows worse things :)


I don't watch Game of Thrones. Zero interest in it.

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I greatly enjoyed Kingsman, and the violence is mostly over-the-top. And not nearly as bad, as, say, Snowpiercer!


I consider myself fortunate to live in Austin where we have Alamo Drafthouse and other excellent theaters. Alamo will kick people out for talking or using their phone during a movie, they show interesting (and usually amusing) content related to the film before the movie (instead of ads), they run many older films, and they have all sorts of fun movie-related events at their theaters. Plus, you can pick your seats online when buying tickets, which is the single greatest advance in movie-going in years. I don't think I've ever seen a significant projection-related issue at their theaters.


Having said that, I would have immediately left the theater and found a manager to complain to about the 3D lens being present. I absolutely would not have enjoyed the movie in that type of situation, so I cannot fault you with your Zero review. I admire your patience in sitting through it! I look forward to an actual review when you go see again for the first time.


I think Antman looks like fun, and I look forward to seeing it.



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Maybe I'll watch Kingsman someday. Like on a free cable preview weekend or something. Not high on my list of priorities for things to rent. The screening last night really put me out of the mood for action movies.


The Wrecking Crew on the other hand, is something I plan on renting from iTunes this weekend. Been looking forward to that one for a long time.


There are a number of good theaters in the L.A. area, the problem is getting to them. I'm relatively out in the sticks, and I can't stand driving into Burbank or Hollywood.

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I hope to go see the new Avengers at the restored Quaker Theater. After our mega-plex left the mall, the owners of the Quaker started to tear off the 70's facade and found that the original, 1940 art-deco facade was mostly intact along with the original marquee still exisiting under the gray paneling. Now its restored, including all the neon! Of course, I could also try the historic Lynne drive-in near me too.

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Saw it with my wife & son (14+) Saturday. While the movie was enjoyable, I didn't find it exceptional. Three complaints:

1. Ultron's mouth was far too fluid. I wanted to see something very mechanical.

2. The battles seemed to be more "burly brawl" - the Avengers taking on a huge number of opponents simultaneously. Even during the Chitauri invasion the Avengers only took on small groups.

3. In the opening assault the Avengers looked very CGI.

And while the plan was to see it in 2D, that showing was sold out by the time we got to the theater (dinner took longer than expected). So we saw the 3D version and got a price shock - almost $50 for just the tickets! Not only were we paying a premium for the 3D showing, but we were being charged extra for being in a newer (just opened) theater complex.

Frankly, about the only reason to see the movie in the theater is now I don't have to avoid spoilers.

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I saw this yesterday. I enjoyed it and didn't have too many complaints. I agree with you, Eric, about that opening sequence. It just looked terrible, with very obvious CGI. I wonder if that was a last minute addition.


I didn't mind Ultron's mouth being too fluid. I figured he's a pretty smart guy, he could probably make that happen. :)


$50 for three tickets is crazy. I don't even prefer to see movies in 3D as it's too much of a distraction. The only time I want to see a movie in 3D is in a real IMAX theater (not a regular theater pawned off as IMAX), and only if the movie was shot in IMAX (or at least significant portions). I saw Tron: Legacy in two different theaters, both in 3D. The IMAX presentation was light years ahead of of the "Real3D" (or whatever it was), to say nothing about the amazing audio in the IMAX theater. This was at the Bob Bullock History Museum in downtown Austin.



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His mouth aside, Ultron did neither have the charisma nor the motivation of Loki :)


I was also a bit disappointed by Quicksilver. I already knew that he wouldn't be the same as the 'Days of Future Past' Quicksilver but I thought he'd also get a few of those cool slowmotion scenes.

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Quicksilver did have a few slo-mo scenes (like when he punched Cap in the freighter).


One thing I find interesting with the Marvel films is how they re-imagine various characters versus the (admittedly very messy) comic canon. (The following is based on my son's Marvel-Avengers-Ultimate-Character-Guide


For example, in the comics, Magneto is the father of Quicksilver & the Scarlet Witch. But that obviously can't happen in the Marvel films because 20th Century Fox has the rights to X-Men & the other "natural mutants".

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Some changes for the movies I understand, some I don't. E.g. I don't understand why they didn't cast a white actor like Tommy Lee Jones or Jeff Bridges for Nick Fury.

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The movie version was based off the Ultimate Universe version of Nick Fury, which was based on Samuel L. Jackson.


IMHO, Tommy Lee Jones and Jeff Bridges would have been terrible in the role. Both are far too old and sleepy-looking now (although Jones was just fine as a grizzled colonel in Captain America: TFA).


You'd need the modern equivalent of a John Wayne to pull off the original Nick Fury, and there are none.

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I thought about them being too old, but then I figured that Jackson is 2 years older than Bridges ;)


I must admit that I don't know much about 'ultimate' versions. I'm not a fan of rebooting comic universes. It was great when DC did zero hour back then, but once they made reboots almost annually events it started to suck. I think at some point marvel went so far and said something to the point of "We no longer care about continuity, each author is free to tell any story he wants" - not an idea I support.


Going full circle to some earlier comment - I loved Jackson in Kingsman. Probably his best role in a long while. He's just not playing *my* Nick Fury ;)

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I used to collect comics (pretty heavily) in the 80's, but I haven't actively followed them since '90 or '91. I stopped buying them and sold off my collection. Too expensive, not enough time, lost interest, take your pick.


I've got Marvel's app on my iPad, and I've skimmed some of the free samples, but I don't really know if I want to pay for a subscription or not. I'd only be really interested in reading some of the back issues I used to own (or that I could never afford) back-in-the-day, but I have yet to see anything new that interests me.


They've dusted off Secret Wars again (the original got me started collecting in the first place), which apparently includes everything ever done in every Marvel universe ever (except maybe the movies and the 70's live action TV series). Whatever. Past a certain point, it's somewhat pointless to worry about continuity since the characters never age (Spider-Man would be in his late 60's now), so if they want to keep using the original characters without them all being senior citizens, they either have to ignore massive chunks of their history, or write around it somehow. Again - I just kind of got tired of the whole thing.


As far as the movies go, they're certainly hit-and-miss with characters. Some they nail, some are terrible. A different Nick Fury didn't bother me since I never really read much of his stuff even when I did collect.


I'm hoping with Marvel taking the reigns of Spider-Man from Sony that we'll finally get a decent series of movies with him. I recently rented Amazing Spider-Man 2, and was really disappointed they did the whole (spoiler alert) "Gwen Stacy must die" thing. Not that it couldn't have made for a good movie, or a compelling story, but the problem here was that they telegraphed it so heavily that it had absolutely no emotional impact or shock when it happened. Plus, what made that event so startling in the comics is that Spider-Man had been running for over 10 years before Gwen Stacy was killed, and nothing like that had been done before. In ASM 2, the two spent most of the time arguing, so there wasn't the sort of closeness to their relationship that would have made it really meaningful. Plus the film was a big mess in other ways too, but that series is over and done with now so I'm not going to bother reviewing it. Never did see it in the theater, and I'm glad I didn't waste my money doing so.

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Bad comic movies are now measured in ASM2 units ;)


That death scene felt exceptionally silly. While physically probably correct, he catched her from similar falls 2-3 times before, no? :lolblue:


I totally agree on hit or miss casts, but sometimes you think they didn't even try. (The Juggernaut from X³ - Last Stand? WTF?!? Halle Berry as Catwoman?). But the current Avengers work for me, with the exception of Nick. Well, when nitpicking, then I'd say that Pietro and Wanda should've been cast 10 years older and that they somehow aren't on par with the original 6 Avengers, but when they're burning $50 million on Robert Downey Junior alone already they certainly couldn't afford adding another 2 big stars...

(I should say the girl playing Catwomangirl in 'Gotham' is amazing ;))

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Bad comic movies are now measured in ASM2 units ;)

I may have to use that. :D


That death scene felt exceptionally silly. While physically probably correct, he catched her from similar falls 2-3 times before, no? :lolblue:

To drive the point home though, they had her head smack into the ground. Didn't happen in the comics that way, but I guess they felt they needed to oversell it in the movie.


(I should say the girl playing Catwomangirl in 'Gotham' is amazing ;))

Still haven't watched Gotham. Or Flash. Or Arrow. Or about the last 7 episodes of SHIELD. I'm a bit behind on my TV watching.

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I've seen all of those series, at least as far as they've been aired in Germany.

I've seen the first season of SHIELD and it's been an amazing ride. Some twists and turns towards the end blew me away - clearly my favorite of the bunch ;)


Arrow had a slow start. My tip for the first season: Avoid the triple of Huntress episodes, I assume that's where most people quit. It gets better and better from there onwards, the second season is constantly on a very enjoyable level.


On a similar good level is Gotham so far. I think we're having some mid season break here now, but I've been too lazy to check vs. an episode guide. It's an amazing origins story and it's really great to see the whole Batman ensemble from a 30 years younger perspective.


Flash is IMO a trainwreck. The only halfway enjoyable episode is the crossover where Arrow is kicking his butt. Actually everyone is kicking Flashs butt, which is part of what makes this series so annoying. He's so fast, but has the reaction time of a tortoise. Only thing that's worse than the action in Flash is the endlessly boring love story inbetween - you get better ones on the Disney Channel :lolblue:


I fear the worst for the upcoming Justice League movie project. With that Flash, Ben Affleck as Batman, and Ryan Reynolds as Lantern it's doomed to be DOA. They probably cast Halle Berry as Wonder Woman :lolblue:

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The Justice League movie won't be using that Flash. I don't recall if they announced who it would be, but I read somewhere that the DC says their TV universe has no connection with their movie universe. Also, Ryan Reynolds won't be Green Lantern. Wonder Woman is played by Gal Gadot (I have no idea who that is). Aquaman is Jason Momoa (he was in Stargate Atlantis, so I guess that's apropos).


I think the Batman v. Superman film (so far) looks to be a dreary mess. The CEO from Warners (DC's parent company) was quoted as saying that as opposed to Marvel, DC's films are "steeped in realism" (the word "edgier" was also tossed around). Apparently, he's ignoring Green Lantern. I don't mind comic book movies having serious themes, but they also need to be fun. They're comic books, for crying out loud. You need to be able to like the characters on screen.


I'm a bit worried about Captain America: Civil War. They've got so many characters lined up for it, it's starting to look like Avengers 2.5. If the movie is about Captain America, it needs keeps its focus on him. CA: The Winter Soldier was excellent, since even though it was in the midst of a huge story, it kept its focus on Cap. Hopefully they can continue with that in Civil War.

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