“Avengers: Age of Ultron”: Do Less

Avengers

Age of Ultron is a fine title, but I might have called the Avengers sequel Age of A Lot. There’s a lot happening in this movie. A lot of characters, a lot of intersecting storylines, a lot of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, a lot of special effects, a lot of action, a lot of incident, a lot of a lot. Meanwhile, in short supply: imagination, variation, respite.

I enjoyed watching it, but I haven’t really enjoyed thinking about it afterwards. Mostly because I’m not sure my brain can handle the convoluted machinations that drive nearly every scene of this ultra- (ultron?)-long, ultra-confusing behemoth. It doesn’t need a little less talk and a lot more action – it needs a little less of all of the above.

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“X-Men: Days of Future Past”: Back to the Future

Days of Future Past

Midway through X-Men: Days of Future Past, the seventh in a seemingly inexhaustible series of movies derived from Stan Lee’s X-Men comics, Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and Professor X (James McAvoy) are under threat from a group of men with guns in a high-security prison facility embedded deep below the Pentagon. They’re flanked by Quicksilver (Evan Peters), an upstart blessed with the power of unparalleled expedience. When it becomes clear that Magneto’s metal-bending and Professor X’s mind-melting won’t be enough to stop the suits from gunning them down, Quicksilver rolls up his sleeves and gets to work.

The result is the movie’s most wonderful sequence, a dazzling and witty exploration of a superhero’s power rendered with panache and style by director Bryan Singer. Time slows down so that the only thing moving at normal human speed is Quicksilver, who trots around the room rearranging the floating objects. With a flourish, he positions the bullets away from Magneto and Professor X, balls a man’s outstretched hand into a fist and even takes a moment to taste-test some soup. When Quicksilver is done, the scene snaps like a rubber band back into place, and the action resumes.

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The M&M Report, Episode 27: Write What You Don’t Know (Or Don’t)

Listen to this week’s M&M Report here.

Letterman

This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discussed David Letterman’s retirement announcement, our mixed feelings about the modern obsession with superhero movies and our opposing perspectives on Matt Zoller Seitz’s recently published manifesto “Please, Critics, Write About the Filmmaking.”

Timecodes:

David Letterman and late-night — 0:57 – 19:00
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (completely spoiler-free) — 19:50 – 26:15
Debating Matt Zoller Seitz’s film/TV criticism piece — 26:20 – end

“Thor: The Dark World”: Holy Competence

Thor: The Dark World

There’s nothing especially wrong with Thor: The Dark World, the latest in a seemingly endless string of Marvel projects leading up to the megalith The Avengers 2. The special effects are serviceable, the story moves along at an enjoyable clip and the performances are almost uniformly solid.

But there’s nothing especially right about it either. Needless convolutions cloud an already questionable narrative. Natalie Portman’s love interest Jane Foster is as bland and underwritten as any character of her kind in recent memory. Director Alan Taylor offers little visual distinction from Kenneth Branagh’s appealing but forgettable original. A week from now, give or take a Tom Hiddleston or a Kat Dennings, nearly everything that happens in Thor: The Dark World will be a distant memory.

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The M&M Report, Episode #3: The Adventures of Soy-Soy

Hostages

Devin Mitchell and I are back with another lively episode of The M&M Report. This week, we briefly talked about the terrible Emmy awards. After Devin was too traumatized about Jeff Daniels to continue on that subject, we dissected six new fall shows, from the pretty good Brooklyn Nine-Nine to the awful Dads. Be sure to watch out for our discussion of the CBS drama Hostages, which inspired genuine fits of uncontrollable laughter from both of us.

Best of all, we kept it efficient this week, at least in comparison to our mammoth overrun last week.

Thanks for listening, and be sure to comment or let us know if you have any comments, suggestions or criticisms.

Also, an update from last week: Devin won our Emmy Predictions contest! Granted, he did it with only six correct guesses out of fourteen categories, but it beats my paltry score of 4 out of 14. I grudgingly admit that Devin is better at predicting the Emmys than I am…until next year.

See below for a breakdown of our topics:

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