Avengers: Age of Ultron – First Impression

I went to see Age of Ultron. By myself. Because I have learned that waiting for people to keep me company for movies like this… is somewhat futile. Somehow I seem to ask either too late (and they already have plans with others to see the same movie, or they have already seen it with others) or too early (“cannot confirm yet”) and it doesn’t pan out half the time. So, I decided to just go see it myself. It’s not ideal, but I am really very tired of being rejected for one reason or another and of waiting around for people to “confirm” whether they’re free or not – and I really wanted to see this movie.

Note: I went in to the cinema having only seen the teaser trailer and the first trailer. I didn’t bother seeing the subsequent trailers because I was trying to keep my anticipation levels down – over-anticipation rarely ever helps a movie. :P

Here, then, is my first impression of Age of Ultron (henceforth AoU). Beware, spoilers!

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Best Film Fights

I was looking through some movies a couple of weeks ago, searching for some clips to use in one of my classes, and in the middle of that search I started wondering: what would I pick as the best movie fights I’ve seen?

After some contemplation, I’ve managed to whittle it down to a top five, with a bunch of honourable mentions. And in compiling this list, I’ve discovered the elements that make an on-screen fight “good” to me: outstanding (or at least interesting) fight choreography, good pacing, injections of humour or some sort of emotional gravity to the scene… and preferably, no one dies or is mortally injured.

So here’s what I think are the best five fights on film (in order of appearance):

Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999)

The original Star Wars trilogy is better than the prequel trilogy in terms of storytelling and innovation but the fights simply cannot compare. For their time, the lightsaber battles in Episodes IV to VI were good, but the choreography of the prequel fights is rather different and much better – or better, at least, for the contemporary viewer’s eyes. It’s more fluid and more complex, as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan demonstrate here when they take on Darth Maul and his double-bladed lightsaber. (I appreciate how the person who uploaded the video has edited out all the other scenes – because in the movie, the fight was crosscut with Anakin’s scenes and Padme’s, which made it harder to appreciate the fight setup.)  There’s no humourous angle to this fight, but there is the shock of Qui-Gon’s death, which adds weight to the fight and makes Obi-Wan’s win at the end bittersweet. I daresay Obi-Wan wouldn’t have beat Darth Maul on his own if he wasn’t propelled by the agony of seeing his master go down like that…

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Iron Man 3

Brief, spoiler-free review: Not bad at all. Definitely better than Iron Man 2, but I’m not entirely sure it’s better than the first Iron Man.  I’d rate it ★★★½

Robert Downey Jr. returns as “billionaire, playboy, philathropist” Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, in this third installment of the franchise. But it’s a slightly different Tony Stark. This is a Tony Stark plagued by discomfiting uncertainty and questions after the alien attack on New York City, in which he nearly died after delivering a nuclear missile into enemy territory. He’s just a “man in a can”, he tells Pepper. A man subject to panic attacks and sleepless nights, which he chooses to spend building and testing new suits of iron instead. At the same time, a terrorist named The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is threatening America with inexplicable bomb attacks where no one can seem to locate or detect the explosive device that creates the blasts. One such explosion puts Stark’s old friend and bodyguard on the brink of death, prodding Stark to declare war on The Mandarin. The immediate aftermath of that declaration is an attack on Stark’s home, and he ends up being separated from Pepper and from all his beloved technology, save his most recent suit – which definitely performs just like a prototype, to say the least…

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