Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ultron's Lament

When society looks back to this period of filmmaking, will they see great work? Will they perceive the depth of character, talent and genius that informed the works of Ibsen, Checkov, Pushkin, Moliere, de la Barca, Jan deBont and Michael Bey? Or will they see a noble artform brought to its knees and destroyed by waves of computer animated visual effects full of sound and fury and signifying very little.

Only time will tell but let us not forget that it took decades before critics saw even masterpieces like The Mummy (1933) with clear eyes and recognized its genius.

So it may be with the current crop of endless X-People, Fantastic 4, Avengers, Bat People and so forth. There may be substance behind their otherwise superficial facade waiting to be discovered.

I think that there is such depth and I propose to you as an example an otherwise overlooked scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). When I first saw this film I did not understand why it was made. It seemed not shallow, but paper thin shallow, without an idea in its head beyond the mere empty greed of the studio executive and his or her insatiable desire to exploit children for every penny they were worth.

But sometimes great work needs time and space to flower and demonstrate its greatness and I had occasion to watch this film several times in pursuit of another idea, one that demonstrates a linkage between the campaign against sugar in the American diet with a similar conspiracy against films about superheroes, when I noticed a scene of great pathos and feeling hiding among the explosions and pointless plot elements.

The scene involved the Scarlett Johannsen character as a foil for the attention of the uber - robot and AI intelligence, Ultron, the nominal villain. In this scene, he plays the part of the villain who feels the need to explain his evil plan for world domination or destruction to our hero, or in this case, our heroine.

Our token woman or lust object, one of three women with a speaking role in the entire film, lies unconscious on the floor after a battle. She groans, not realizing where she is, Ultron's laboratory, and Ultron notices she is awake and begins his great soliloquy.

We are at approximately 1:29:17 into the film.


                              I wasn't sure you would awaken. I hoped you
                              would, I wanted to show you.
                              I know, I haven't anyone else.
                              I read a lot about the meteor, the purity of them.
                              Boom! The end. Start again.
                              The world made clean for the new man to rebuild.
                              I was meant to be new.
                              I was meant to be beautiful.
                              The world would have looked to the sky and seen hope.
                              Seen mercy.
                              But instead they will look up in horror, because of you.
                              You've wounded me. I give you full marks for that.
                              But like the man said ... what doesn't actually kill you ...


                              just makes me stronger.


Admittedly this scene ends in a noisy way not entirely compatible with the early monologue, but this is by far the most human and interesting acting in the entire film with the possible exception of when Ultron has his heart ripped from his chest, by the other woman superhero, near the end of the film.

Ultron is just a fool for women, it would seem.

Why do they make these movies?  

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