Superheroes return in Marvel’s effects-and wit-filled sequel
John Anderson writes: Those truly committed to the Kremlinology of Marvel Comics will find “Avengers: Age of Ultron” a revelatory piece of 3-D entertainment. Who knew that the evil Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) had been working on the kind of robotics that would provide superhero/industrialist Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the groundwork for developing an artificial intelligence that could threaten the existence of all human life on Earth? Who knew The Incredible Hulk could be a romantic lead?
For those more concerned with what “The Avengers” movies do best—outsize spectacle and wry comedy—“Age of Ultron” has to be declared a victory. “Victory should be honored with revels,” declares hammer-throwing Scandinavian elocutionist Thor (Chris Hemsworth). “Who doesn’t love revels?” answers snark specialist Stark. “Revels” is a good word to describe it all, if one tends to revel in effects-driven mass destruction for the good of mankind.
Director Joss Whedon, under the auspices of the almost supernaturally profitable Marvel-Disney alliance, has brought back the core of 2012’s “The Avengers”—Mr. Hemsworth, Mr. Downey, Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk), Chris Evans (Captain America), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye)—along with several subordinate supervillains and heroes to embellish the plot and set up the sequel (well on its way, to judge by the closing moments of “Ultron”). They include the brother-sister act of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen), whose superpowers are the result of Strucker’s experiments and whose antipathy toward the Avengers is rooted in the devastation visited upon their native Sokovia by now-reformed war merchant Tony Stark.
If any of this seems complicated—the fictional Sokovia, for instance, or that there was also a Quicksilver in “X-Men: Days of Future Past”—you really have to just let it go, the momentum of the movie being too much for cogitation. Read the rest of this entry »
Ryan Gajewski reports: The heroes of Avengers: Age of Ultron won’t be assembling at a number of German theaters.
“We are worried, particularly about eastern Germany. When prices go up, then we have a serious problem that could force movie theaters to close.”
— Karl-Heinz Meier, spokesman for advocacy group I.G. Nord
Theaters in 193 small towns in Germany are refusing to screen the Marvel blockbuster, citing Disney‘s raised rental fee for the film, according to German publication Deutsche Welle. In total, the film is being kept from 686 screens.
Cinema owners told DW that they were taken aback when Disney announced it was upping the fee from 47.7 to 53 percent of ticket sales. Additionally, Disney is cutting its advertising spend and will not provide advances for 3D glasses. Read the rest of this entry »
Zach Epstein writes: It seems like Marvel can do no wrong these days. Every movie the company releases is a smash hit at the box office, and the upcoming film Avengers: Age of Ultron should end up being one of the studio’s biggest blockbusters of all time. Now, with the new Avengers movie inching ever closer to its premiere less than three weeks from today, Marvel has once again teased fans with a brand new clip from the film.
We’ve seen several Avengers: Age of Ultron trailers at this point, and Marvel has released a number of clips as well. We even have some great behind-the-scenes footage to enjoy from the upcoming superhero flick. And now, we can toss yet another tantalizing clip onto the pile….(read more)
Je Suis Charlie Hashtag Makes Media History
The “Je Suis Charlie” hashtag has become one of the most popular in the history of Twitter as people around the world showed their solidarity for the victims of the Paris outrage.
At its height the tag was tweeted at a rate of 6,500 times a minute and featured in 3.4 million tweets in just one 24 hour period.
The phrase is in reference to the Charlie Hebdo magazine where 12 people were slaughtered when Islamist terrorists stormed their offices in Paris on Wednesday sparking a series of attacks lasting three days.
“It’s part of our mission to expand beyond our own borders.”
— John Cooper, director of the Sundance Film Festival
Dean Napolitano writes:
Movie lovers in Hong Kong won’t have to travel all the way
to Park City, Utah, to catch the best in American independent films. The Sundance Film Festival is coming to Hong Kong in an abridged edition that will screen eight films from this year’s film bash.
The festival kicks off on Friday with “Whiplash,” which grabbed the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic competition, about a young drumming prodigy and his overbearing teacher. Other highlights include “The Skeleton Twins,” a comedy-drama about a suicidal man that’s won rave reviews, and Mark Ruffalo as a manic-depressive family man in “Infinitely Polar Bear.” Read the rest of this entry »