THE BOOTH WINDOW: EARLY SCREENING REVIEWS
By Chris Pribilski
I’ve been a movie theatre manager for a while now, and one of the perks is the early screenings. Studios don’t do it for all features, but for most they’ll offer an early screening of a movie for booking agents to attend. The process has gone through many changes over the years, but I still get the invites, and I’ve never had to sign a disclosure agreement, so let me tell you what I thought without spoiling anything!
It’s my first review, and it’s a big one! Let me tell you about Disney’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON!
**Any plot points that I allude to or flat out tell you can be gotten from the previous Marvel movies, TV shows, and the various trailers. NO SPOILERS!!**
If you’re one or two minutes late to the movie, you’re going to wonder if you got directed to the right auditorium. Don’t sweat it, you’re where you need to be and you didn’t miss anything. We start right in the middle of an intense action sequence that shows our heroes doing what they do best: kicking butt.
Apparently over the past few months the team’s been hunting down Baron Strucker, a Hydra villain we saw after the closing credits of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” They’ve been trying to recover the lost object Strucker acquired in that final scene (an object you’ll recognize from the first Avengers flick that also makes an appearance in a trailer) and apparently we’re in the middle of a raid on the Baron’s last stronghold.
This opening film sequence shows off Whedon doing one of the things he does best: balancing individual character screen time in an ensemble film. We get to see each hero doing their part. There are one or two occurrences during the battle that seem strange to our heroes, mainly caused by two characters we’ve been anticipating since their appearance in the first teaser trailer. Since it’s the beginning of the film I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that the Avengers win the battle, acquiring the item they’ve been trying to recover. Thinking that the war on Hydra is over, all agree a celebration is in order.
Just a head’s up: Stan ‘The Man’ Lee’s cameo is during the Avengers’ celebration, and it’s probably one of my favorites!
As we all know from watching any popcorn action movie, when our heroes are celebrating, that’s when the crap’s about to hit the fan. If you’ve been following the buzz on this film at all, you know what’s going to happen to lead up to this moment. If you haven’t been keeping up, let’s just say we’re introduced to our villain: Ultron, an artificial intelligence housed in the body of one of Stark’s “puppets.”
He makes his presence known to the Avengers, and after breaking a bunch of their stuff, he escapes with the recovered relic to begin his master plan. The rest of the film has Whedon taking us through a standard ensemble hero story; however, he does such a good job with the pacing you’ll never notice the 145 minute run time. Whedon throws plenty of surprises our way that make us forget for a moment we’re watching a very familiar story. All the characters are balanced, and each has a significant role to play. If you still haven’t learned your lesson about canon in these movies, I’ll just tell you to shut up now. It all works within the universe and is all fun; we really don’t want to listen to your complaining. It’s not like Greedo is shooting first or anything.
I also liked how Whedon doesn’t treat you like a child when telling this story. He establishes and references events that have occurred between the two films without adding a ton of unnecessary exposition. Unlike other writer/directors, Whedon does so without making it feel like he’s just throwing information in to make his story work. Whedon’s just expecting you to pay attention; each second is precious in a movie of this scope and he doesn’t want to waste a moment. He’s a great storyteller, and everything flows with few hiccups. Just like with the first Avengers movie, there are points where Whedon pokes fun at the insanity of it all (most notably in a scene between Hawkeye and one of our new characters), but he does so without completely pulling back the curtain. He’s having fun, and inviting you along for the ride.
The highly anticipated Hulkbuster scene lives up to the hype, and the introduction and inclusion of The Vision, while brief, works within the story (the immediate trust the Avengers have in Vision is handled BRILLIANTLY). Even though we meet several new characters and have a number of fun cameos, the focus remains on our principal players. Most of the additions feel like they contribute and aren’t just crammed in to set them up for the next movie (though Marvel die-hards will notice several scenes that serve to set up future movies, all well incorporated). We also get the first recognition from our characters that there is a much larger threat on the horizon.
Now let’s be real, it’s not a perfect movie. There are one or two CG scenes that don’t work (riding a Hulk bareback for one). Unlike the first movie the humor is clunky at times. Some of the exposition scenes were a little rough or felt forced. Still, these occurrences are few and far between, and considering how much story is crammed into this movie without losing pacing, action, or character development, the job Whedon did is pretty impressive. The movie is just fun, plain and simple. If you like the superhero genre, or even just a good popcorn flick, you’ll like this movie.
Watching the standard 2D version is fine, but I thought the 3D was great and worth the extra price tag.
IMAX is fun, but not worth the price bump, save your money. You want that experience, just sit closer.
There were a lot of awesome moments and observations I’m dying to share with you (I didn’t see Raphael in the bathtub), but I really don’t want to spoil anything! I hope you enjoy this movie as much as I did!
** As you will forever hear me say, please, please watch the movie at an independent/local movie chain if you can, and be sure to buy SOMETHING from the concessions. I know concessions are expensive, but the building doesn’t make much money off the tickets. If you like the theatre you go to, support them by buying at least a small popcorn, that alone will be a huge help. Sneak the rest of your stuff in ;).**