MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Directed by Joss Whedon. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth
Regular readers of The Message in the Movies may have noticed their sparsity in recent weeks, and there’s good reason for that: When so many summer movies come out without a message, there is nothing much to say.
But let me first say a few kind words about The Avengers and the Marvel Comic universe.
Marvel Comics has created many superheroes that are fun to hang out with, especially when their disparate personalities get thrown together for epic adventures. The Avengers unites Tony Stark / Iron Man (Downey Jr.), a millionaire inventor who struggles with his ego in his efforts to do the right thing; Bruce Banner / The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), a scientist with anger management issues; Thor (Hemsworth), a Norse god whose own mythology follows him down to earth; Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans), a morally straight champion of freedom whose values come via The Greatest Generation; and many, many other characters too numerous to mention (and we haven’t met them all yet!). The ways in which The Avengers negotiate with one another and eventually work things out could serve as a template for both church and family dialogue, if it weren’t for all of the sarcastic banter they dish out during their big fights.
Once you get past the origin story for each hero, the films vary in richness of plot. 2011’s Thor, directed by Kenneth Branaugh, was filled with satisfying family intrigue. Last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a conspiracy thriller that had some sharp satirical edges.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is lightweight in comparison to those two films, and fairly by-the-numbers in its action movie aspirations. Writer-director Joss Whedon clearly loves these characters and gives every individual their time to shine onscreen. But he begins the movie with a big action scene and a storyline that takes a while to fully comprehend. This may be a reward to fanboys (and girls), but it’s frustrating to the rest of us. Once the plot is fully unveiled, it’s not that hard to follow. There is just not enough story, and the action set pieces go on and on and on, with heroes and villains tearing apart a city as its bemused citizens look at the escalating carnage.
This kind of adventure translates well overseas and Avengers: Age of Ultron has brought in over a billion dollars in ticket sales worldwide. People seem to enjoy watching things blow up, especially in comic book fashion. This is truly a movie for our consumer culture, providing over two hours of mindless entertainment while whetting our appetite for the next two Avengers films, Ant Man, Captain America: Civil War, Doctor Strange, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, The Spectacular Spider Man, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and countless other movies and TV series.
As I stuck around to read the end credits, I marveled at the hundreds of persons (and the millions of dollars) spent to provide a couple hours of mindless amusement to people of every language and culture. But then I thought: If nations can unite to create something so silly and yet so satisfying for so many, surely we can work together for world peace.
After we’re done fighting. It’s clobberin’ time!
Two halos: Good guys win.
One pitchfork: Bad guys lose, mostly; mild swearing; bloodless violence.
Do you have comments about this movie or movie review? E-mail your comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
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