Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Perhaps not as good as the original, but then, how could it be? Maybe the weight of expectations holds it down a little too, but nonetheless it is a thoroughly enjoyable, action blockbuster of the highest order. It both stands alone as its own movie and acts as a bridge to the next chapter in the massive overarching Marvel storyline – I must admit I found myself thinking ahead to what’s next and wondering what was being implied for the future more than I should have.

The Avengers

The Avengers

This movie seemed like it would be the perfect match made in heaven. Marvel, in proper control of their own property, carefully shaping a superhero team movie having used a series of previous films to flesh out the world and the characters. The cherry on top being the masterstroke of having Joss Whedon, a perennial underperformer, as the director.

It all worked out PERFECTLY. The Avengers is the pinnacle of comic book superhero move making. It has an authentic feel about it in terms of truly realising the spirit of a comic book superhero, but appropriately adapting it to movie form. It grounds it enough to make it palatable in the big screen format, but does not lose sight of it’s fantastical foundations.

Everything came together well. It is not a perfect film, the villain coud have been stronger, but in the context of a long arc, which it seems apparent Marvel are going for, this may not work out to be an issue at all. This is a great movie, and I only wish more of Marvel’s properties were back in their control – particularly anything that Fox owns.

All my childhood fantasies are coming true with Marvel movies. Brilliant.

Iron Man 2

Sequels to blockbusters always come with big expectations. Iron Man 2 delivers in a really satisfying way. It’s still amazing that a B grade superhero like this should achieve such high level status putting it probably on par with the big ones (Spider-Man, Batman and Superman). This can be put down to Robert Downey Jr in a large way, but also to Jon Favreau for not being afraid to pander to the fanboys. The movie is laden with good stuff that must surely have comic geeks drooling.

War Machine, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and what the hell, Thor’s hammer?? Lots of ‘splosions and lots of heart. More Iron Man can only be a good thing. Bring on Avengers!

Four stars.

Sherlock Holmes

I am a big fan of Sherlock Holmes, I used to read the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle when I was younger. This movie felt to me like it captured the spirit of Sherlock Holmes and tweaked it to well suit the 21st century audience.

All the little details are there. They make clever little references all over the place in this movie, to details and characters from the extensive Sherlock Holmes case files. I guess considering Sherlock Holmes has been a literary figure for well over a hundred years a lot of those details are “well known”, well, perhaps not to the everyday audience, but as far as popular literary characters go, he is surely one of the best known.

I’m not sure if a Sherlock Holmes purist would approve, but I certainly did. “Factually” (in as much as a fictional character can have facts) it was all there, Holmes was an adept pugilist and does make references to the fact that he utilises a form of martial arts involving fighting with his cane, and Watson often brought a pistol with him whenever they suspected a situation would get dangerous. This movie just cranks that up to the point where the adventures of Holmes and Watson are well laiden with action – and that wasn’t a bad thing at all.

Jude Law seemed a comfortable fit as Watson, and his character was well done. One of the big challenges with Watson is that he is a medical doctor and very intelligent, and yet whenever he is with Holmes, the danger is always how do you manage to showcase Holmes brilliance without making Watson seem like a fool.

Robert Downey Jr seemed like a curious choice to me to play Holmes, but it’s clear the man has cornered the market on playing pompous prats that the audience can’t help but love. They play Holmes as the brilliant, drug addled genius who is socially inept, and arrogant – just as the books intended. RDJ finds a way to do this and you still love the character.

The classic Sherlock Holmes style is still there, he deduces things like no one else can, and the manner in which Guy Ritchie does exposition seems well suited in allowing all the explanation to take place in an entertaining (and expedient way).

Finally, the aesthetics of the 19th century Victorian England setting is really well done. The streets (and the faces of people) is all grimy and the whole setting looks great.

All in all, this is the best Sherlock Holmes movie I could have possibly expected, it takes all the elements of Holmes and tweaks it for the modern audience, without losing a single part of the Holmes fiction at all. A great movie.

True in spirit, exaggerated in detail – with the modern audience in mind.

Four stars.

Iron Man

I saw Iron Man the other day and it absolutely gets my thumbs up. It’s good, fun action with great special effects. It’s a super hero creation story, so it’s a bit light on the action, and follows a similar template to previous super hero movies, but the way it does things is excellent. Robert Downey Jr, plays Tony Stark perfectly and the story moves along at a great pace. Definitely worth checking out.

While it’s very much a guys film, I think it has the same kind of cross gender appeal of being a pure fun film like Transformers did last year.

Four stars.

Also, be sure to stay till the end of the credits if you’re a Marvel superhero fanboy.