Accessing the power and technology of Loki’s scepter, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) combine their creative and scientific brains to create an artificial intelligence called Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a system capable of bringing peace on earth in our time. But, like a genie with poor comprehension, Ultron’s interpretation of peace on earth could be the end of humanity; additionally, how to stop newcomers, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson), from wreaking havoc? It will take all of the Avengers as a team to save the planet. Partially Written by and Directed by Joss Whedon, this latest installment in the Marvel universe manages to maintain the fun we’ve come to expect, shed a lot more light on the back stories of the Avengers themselves, and, still advance the overall plot line and arc of each character’s story. And, while the end of each Marvel film always seems to come to the same exciting peak (relatively speaking), with the same semi-exciting conclusion, there isn’t much question as to what will happen in this episode, but rather how are we going to get there? The answer in this case may be a bit convoluted and drawn out for the sake of cinema, none the less, fans will still appreciate seeing their favorite heroes in action once again. Acting from the ensemble all still fits the part, an almost Heath Ledger/Joker homage doesn’t slip the radar with Ultron’s first appearance, and extra love to Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) doesn’t go unnoticed. In many ways this could be the closest Hawkeye will get to his own breakout film, meanwhile deeper/larger characters such as Thor and Captain America (Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans) have multiple stand alone films in the franchise, enjoy the spotlight while it lasts Hawkeye. Overall, we’ve got ourselves a popcorn chomper that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, is that so wrong? Worthy of your dollar (but maybe not in 3D), Avengers: Age of Ultron is rated PG-13.
Set during World War II the Busbee family is torn as father, James (Michael Rapaport), is drafted into service as eldest son, London (David Henrie), suffers from flat feet. Left to raise the boys and run the family business mother, Emma (Emily Watson), is faced with adversity, especially from 8 year old son Pepper/Little Boy (Jakob Salvati). Pepper in particular turns to magic and faith to bring his father home from the war; but, it’s the vigilant eye and friendship of neighbor Hashimoto (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) that may have the larger impact. Directed and partially written by Alejandro Monteverde, this historical time capsule does in fact touch on a number of social themes from the 40’s, some of which are still evident today, racial profiling, and small mentality to name a few. Lightly sprinkled humor throughout the film makes strides to touch the heart strings and win with cuteness, sadly, the end result is more akin to a daytime, semi low budget, made for TV movie that aspires to be greater than it actually is. And, while all the nuts and bolts are here, the film’s drama doesn’t manage to feel dramatic enough and the comedy doesn’t feel comedic enough. Nice effort but wait for rental or pass altogether on this one. Little Boy is rated PG-13.
Post World War I, an Australian man, a water diviner named Connor (Russell Crowe), travels to Turkey and Gallipoli to locate his three missing sons, all thought to be victims of the brutal trench warfare seen in the region. While in Turkey Connor happens to meet Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko), keeper at his hotel, what starts as a cold acquaintance turns to a slow boil and a roaring flame. Meanwhile the war, while technically over, continues to ravage the country and revolution is at hand. Will Connor find what he was looking for or will the dowsing continue. Feature length directorial debut for Crowe, it would appear though Crowe is off to a decent start. While some of the romance scenes drift and reduce to longing wistful glances, oh puke, a fair amount of creative cinematography and editing also exists, perhaps influence from Crowe’s work with Ridley Scott and Darren Aronofsky? Meanwhile, solid performances from the ensemble fill out the rest of the frame nicely. Additional applause to the acknowledgement of the ANZAC and Turkish forces who lost their lives in this tragic battle, a part of history often overlooked in American schools. Maybe a matinee or a rental for your dollar. The Water Diviner is rated R.