Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Kretschmann’

Comic Book Pastiche

The Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett, Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Spader, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Stellan Skarsgard, Thomas Kretschmann, Julie Delpy, Andy Serkis, Anthony Mackie.

The Avengers are back in director and writer Joss Whedon’s much anticipated sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron featuring all the Marvel superheroes and some new ones in a CGI laden special effects extravaganza, which is at times confusing and other times absolutely fascinating. At a running time of two hours and twenty minutes, director Whedon has sufficient screen time to flesh out all the characters individually as well as give nuance to some of their more complicated relationships.

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Like the relationship between The Hulk, aka Bruce Banner wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) and the Black Widow played by Scarlett Johansson who seems to be the only avenger that can calm the Hulk’s penchant for destructive anger.

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The relationship between goodie two shoes Steve Rogers aka Captain America, played by Chris Evans and Nordic God Thor played by the hunky Chris Hemsworth is also subtly explored considering that the former is a World War two hero and the latter from another dimension.

Robert Downey Jr reprises his role as egotistical Billionaire Tony Stark, aka Iron Man and his irrepressible desire to mould any technological discovery, in this case the power artificial intelligence to his own advantage.

The Age of Ultron refers to the ubiquitous Altron a powerful A.I. force which is hell bent on human destruction and vain enough to realize that he can survive the aftermath, beautifully voiced with an underlying menace by James Spader (Bad Influence, more recently in the hit TV show The Black List).

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The sexy Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton aka Hawkeye ‘s character is fleshed out as a devoting family man which is entirely incongruous with his status as a member of the Avengers, but hey who cares?

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Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play evil orphaned Eastern European twins Pietro and Maximoff who soon turn on Ultron when they realize his megalomaniac tendencies. Even Lord of the Rings’ Andy Serkis makes an appearance as a South African mercenary Ulysses Klaue and the Johannesburg downtown sequence is truly phenomenal to watch as is the action scene in Seoul, South Korea.

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If audiences get confused with who all the avengers are, there are ample filmic references to each of their own background stories from Thor: The Dark World, including a brief appearance by Idris Elba and also Captain America’s Agent Carter, played by Hayley Atwell. Marvel is indeed expanding their universe exponentially and if The Avengers: Age of Ultron’s audience figures are anything to go by, this will prove to be another superhero box office smash hit.

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The Avengers: Age of Ultron is fun entertainment and definitely aimed at Iron Man, Thor and Captain America cinema fans especially all the witty references and innuendo’s involving lifting Thor’s hammer which are neatly laced into a script which may seem convoluted but then again when it comes to Artificial Intelligence its more an infinite mess which at some point needs to be reined in.

Audiences should look out for brief cameos by Anthony Mackie, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Delpy, Don Cheadle and Thomas Kretschmann. If The Avengers: Age of Ultron appears to be a pastiche of all the previous Marvel films, then director Joss Whedon has certainly achieved the impossible, not to mention making a narrative out of the dangers of artificial intelligence plausible and entertaining.

It’s best for audiences to suspend their disbelief and enjoy The Avengers: The Age of Ultron for what it is: a comic book orgy with a giant budget and loud, awe-inspiring special effects which will be sure to nurture any young adult’s imagination for awhile.

 

 

 

A More Impressive Mrs Brown

The Young Victoria

Regal, beautiful and rebellious to the point of gaining an Empire

Regal, beautiful and rebellious to the point of gaining an Empire

The Young Victoria is a treat for any dedicated royalist and purveyor of British history and shows Queen Victoria as she ascends the throne and deals with her first and only love, the marriage to Prince Albert of Germany, perfectly portrayed by Rupert Friend. Emily Blunt takes the part of the headstrong Victoria perfectly with the correct amount of poise and dedication and is supported by a fine cast such as Miranda Richardson as the Duchess of Kent, Mark Strong as Sir John Conroy and Paul Bettany as Lord Melbourne.

Previous film version about Queen Victoria only showed her as a reclusive widow hiding away in Balmoral as the 19th centure draws to a close while she is being wooed by a country groundskeeper played with Scottish tenacity by Billy Connolly with Dame Judi Dench taking the role in the superbly under-rated Mrs Brown.

Royalty and the birth of Victorian traditions in all its grandeur

In this film version with a wonderful script by Oscar winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosforth Park), captures the intrigue of the 19th century British court and how the Royalty then was so tied in with all European aristocracy demonstrating the formation of a strong consolidation of power, which eventually lead to the likes of King Leopold of Belgium, Prince Albert’s uncle and Queen Victoria’s government plundering Africa for the riches and expansions of a colonial empire, known as the scramble for that unknown continent giving historical insight into the treacheries and triumphs of the 19th century and the vast discrepancies which haunt the 21st century.

Nevertheless politics aside, The Young Victoria is a wonderful tale of a young girl who shrugs off the confinements of the Kensington system (a particular set of rules governing etiquette) and ascend the British thrown to become the second longest running monarch in British History second to only Queen Elizabeth I. The difference between the two Queens is while Elizabeth remained the epicentre of her own sovereignty and did not produce an heir, Victoria established a dynasty which is still surviving today.

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The Young Victoria is highly recommended as a fitting cinematic tribute to all that was once lavish where decorum reigned supreme and etiquette and conservation of dignity was regarded as the foundation of a powerful yet ultimately flawed civilization, to a nation that established its hegemony and was sure to lose that supremacy centuries later, only to be left with the vestiges of all those colonial expansions…

At the centre of any Empire was a ruler, in this case Victoria, like all charismatic leaders started off as impressionable and malleable but soon developed the skills of diplomacy and manipulation, especially playing the rules of power and politics on her own terms.

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