tobacco Knights presents
Installment 11: Avengers: Age of Ultron
2015 Directed by Joss Whedon
Like the first Avengers movie, I saw Age of Ultron in the theater. And like the first time around, I got wrapped up in the hype. The months, then weeks, then days that counted down to the opening, with an occasional trailer or teaser sprinkled strategically here and there, had us all ready to pop by the time the lights when down.
Unlike the first one though, I wasn’t completely convinced I had seen something that lived up to the all that orchestrated hype. Even though the first Avengers movie had me a little punch-drunk from all the mechanized city-toppling action, I consciously enjoyed the ride immensely as it was happening, and never felt all that lost as to what the intents and purposes of the characters were. There wasn’t a lot of need afterwards to piece together holes in the storyline or scrutinize why certain things happened so that it could all gel with the overall MCU scripture, and appease all its disciples. Ultron, however, as the final credits rolled, had me a little uncertain. I knew I liked the movie, and it was probably “elevated” in its intensity over the first like all good action sequels are expected to be. But I also felt I hadn’t completely absorbed all that was potentially there, especially in regards to the ulterior motives of Tony Stark and his creation, and the whole Jarvis transforming into Vision thing. I knew it was cool, it had all come to a successful full circle, and wow, that it really sets up for another earth-shattering sequel, but I felt I had sort of missed out on the full impact of what Joss Whedon and co. had unveiled. Perhaps a second trip to the theater and seeing it again will straighten things out a bit. But that never came to pass…
So time went on, and the next involvement I found myself having with the MCU was the starting of this blog series. Ant-Man, which I’ll write about next week, hadn’t come out yet, and other than the first Iron Man years earlier, and the two Avengers installments, I hadn’t seen any of them yet. Since my final take on Ultron had never been fully decided, I figured I would get to it at the end of the blog series and see it again in a more focused environment, and see if the full experience I felt I had sort of missed out on could be attained (and hopefully without Wikipedia for once). Plus, as I just mentioned, I didn’t have the background knowledge of the previous 10 MCU films that first time around. Or the benefit of the countless hours of input over the course of this project from my fiancée as to all the history and lore of the original comics, and how the films varied or were faithful to them. (I also have to take a moment and remind everyone that it was her that encouraged this watching-and-writing project in the first place, and invited it to be a part of her blog space). So now, at long last, a second viewing of Ultron.
Pretty good. In fact, I think I like it better than the first Avengers. The whole creation of the Ultron program by Stark makes a whole lot more sense now, and the way Jarvis sort of becomes Vision, and how it was a kind of an off-shoot from what was to be the next evolution of Ultron – that all made a lot more sense and made the film a hell of a lot better and, well, satisfying. It also made it more of a cerebral film than an action sequence expose that I felt the first one was. This one had some ridiculous action, to be sure, but the underlying complicated plot rose above all that. I give a lot of the credit for this to Whedon, and his ability to keep a distanced perception of how the film was to be received by a wide-ranged audience. Anyway, if nothing else, I now know why Vision had to be played by Paul Bettany…
The One Thing: I suppose it has to be the storyline of Stark, the Ultron program, and its roundabout creation of Vision. There are several other things that were great, like James Spader, whose vocal presence alone was enough to make him one of the best parts of the film. And kudos for giving Jeremy Renner an actual part this time around. But the real treat for me (for once) was the complicated, thought-provoking plot. It actually brought Tony Stark a bit back down to Earth for me too. I was getting pretty tired of him, and I know you could argue his rhetoric only got even more annoying and pretentious here, but for me it actually solidified the off-kilter underbelly of his character a little more, and of course eventually redeemed him a bit, which for some reason made me OK with him again. And I actually liked the way it all ended, with the remnants of the original avengers moving on with the new additions they’ve got, while the rest went their separate ways into presumed retirement….
But I suspect Thanos will have something to smile about that….
Just Blowing Smoke: The masters at E.P Carrillo have yet another gem you have to try. A part of their Crowned Heads line, the Headley Grange is a fantastic smoke that does not disappoint, especially for the modest price. Named specifically after the storied lodge where Led Zeppelin recorded some of their finest work (there’s another Crowned Heads feature called Four Sticks…), this great Dominican cigar comes in several sizes but I prefer the 6” standard, which comes at about $7. Not always easy to find in stores, especially now that their initial hype from a year ago, has died down a bit, but you can easily find it online. A good excuse to listen to “Going to California” one more time while lighting it up.
To read the Nerdling’s review of Age of Ultron click here.