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The hate towards this film is extreme!

The trailers for it sucked, but it's a good summer blockbuster and a whole lot of fun. Better than both Avengers films if you ask me...



I don't hate it. I might even like it, but I didn't like the original and I think I bailed on the second at some point. I just don't care about it.
__________________
5-time MoFo Award winner.



Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
I sat up all night with this and only got 4 reps and not one single comment... I'm disappointed.
Complaining about a lack of rep...how pathetic!




MovieMeditation presents...
— Movie Review —
Avengers: Age of Ultron

written and directed by Joss Whedon
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Avengers Assemble!
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The one man, who is probably best known as the real-life duplicate of Nick Fury, you know, the true mastermind behind 'The Avengers', has once again been responsible for obtaining and throwing together everyone's favorite superheroes, and let them fight side by side in this second magnificent battle to stop the complete destruction of the world as we know it...

Back in 2012, director Joss Whedon delivered what could practically be perceived as the perfect adrenaline-fueled super-kick to DC’s nuts (see what I almost did there?); especially for people with a penchant for muscle men in uniform and wonder women in clinging latex – or maybe it was simply the superhero recipe cooked to ultimate perfection, which eventually had the audience flying off to theatres around the world - but honestly though, it could be both. In many ways, the first ‘Avengers’ film played out as the ultimate superhero experience to date, not only representing the most sublime blockbuster of that very summer, but also possessed a spirit that attached itself honorably and firmly to the timeless illustrated roots of superhero culture.

In many ways, 'The Avengers' indicated a conclusive curtain call of super-powered proportions, which combined several years of previous individual adaptations, and therefore also acting as the largest and most action-packed chapter in Marvel villainous plan to take out any potential enemy during the huge blockbuster battle of the summer. Therefore, one could easily imagine that a sequel would be a tremendously difficult task to complete to perfection, as the level of the first film was already almighty and universally elevated into something that looked like the absolute breaking point for the genre; “Go until there, not further”, it intelligently implied. Is it in any way possible for the long awaited 'Age of Ultron' to break through the high standards of the first film, or will it just be a giant reproduction of a past success?



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The Story
In 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' we see the otherwise self-conscious and benevolent super genius Tony Stark, truly put the world in danger, when in an attempt to create a revolutionary peace program accidentally let loose an uncontrollable and non-physical force of some kind, which is much bigger and stronger than one can imagine. It is a force driven by a form of artificial intelligence that goes by the name of "The Ultron Project", which makes it possible for this peculiar project to disappear in and out of confidential files and life changing secrets. The problem is that this project didn’t end up in the hands of Tony Stark because of some kind of accidental happening, and Stark has instead awarded the "Ultron" with a destructive power against our dearest super group, which can not only end up as the fatal end for our good-hearted group of super humans, but also the end of all human existence, as we know it ... We have reached a new age, the Age of Ultron.

Despite the phenomenal sense of awesomeness, which the ultramodern supertitle provides you with, it isn’t exactly an entirely new phenomenon to see the constantly evolving technology improve to such an extent, that we are eventually overtaken by its space-age mega-steps – or should you perhaps say impulsive megabits – until we eventually are completely indefensible against a force that can both think, act and move faster than any living and breathing life form. But of course, this doesn’t mean that an idea like this have to be a boring get-together, playing the same strings as always, because ironically, as Ultron himself puts it, he has no strings attached at all. We have previously seen some extremely interesting varied versions of the same old story, but the question is whether the sequel to 'The Avengers' manages to do the same, and actually renew the storyline to the extent of story-wise evolution… In short, the answer is simply no. For the advantage of ‘The Avengers’ in follow-up form, you can, in turn, mention the fact that there are only so many ways to make a film of sky-high epic proportions, which simply have to reflect something as broad and universally destructive as the definitive end of the world. It is understandable that Marvel's answer to the ultimate superhero franchise, will have to come up with an antagonistic force strong enough to be a real threat to all the superheroes on earth. Still, I sort of miss a super villain who is capable of attacking the entire team from more creative angles, and putting the world out of the game in other ways than to create a global mass destruction. I guess you could say that Scarlet Witch gave us a little indication of a mental intruder playing mind games with our super squad, but it never seemed as if the complete potential of this battle strategy was fully exploited.


But all this continuous shortcutting of potentially interesting directions this sequel could have taken, seem to not really come from the lack of talent or focus, but simply the lack of basic control. I feel like Joss Whedon has had his hands tied together during most of the production, and judging from various interviews and comments from the man himself, it doesn’t seem that far from the truth at all. Having an original cut of more than three hours, it shouldn’t be any surprise that cutting down the film to what would eventually be two hours and twenty-two minutes was going to feel jumbled. It was evident that the film needed to be cut down eventually, but when the studio contradicts itself by forcing every Marvel picture, which is part of the crosscutting cinematic universe, to also push several side stories and side characters into the plot, you just know that it is going to be a messy affair. Usually I wouldn’t care much for a quick glimpse of some upcoming entries in the MCU, but what I find to be a major problem is when Marvel doesn’t just want to add to the film, but also take away from it. When deleting a few delusive scenes here and there I won’t batch an eye, but when they choose to cut down on important plot points in the central story, I become rather annoyed. For example when Ultron is first introduced into the film, it happens so quick that you just got to accept the fact that he is suddenly there. First we see him going through the software subconscious of both online information and activities, as well as Stark’s personal assistant, Jarvis, and his programmed line of thoughts, which Ultron eventually messes with to gain ultimate control. But enough of that, after we see him as a mechanic mess walking and talking like someone who wants control but has yet to gain it, it all seems rather natural and straight-forward. But literally a split second after this slow-building introduction, we quick-cut to a shot of Ultron sitting in a church, fully equipped down to every last single metal-made piece of armor. But there is absolutely no explanation of how he got there, why he is there, or how he ended up looking like that. You definitely feel like a good chunk of metallic backbone was missing from Ultron’s backstory, which would further increase our interest for this character, had he been developed properly.

But after all, though you always say that each film is only as good as its villain, it is not all about Ultron and it isn’t him who is single-handedly spinning the film out of control. Of course, there is also the main approach and the overall story, which holds all the smaller pieces together. In reality, 'Age of Ultron' basically consists of a story so incredibly similar to its predecessor, that you don’t really feel there is much new under the sun in this area – except for a metaphorical eclipse, meaning that this sequel certainly possesses a much darker tone than we have previously been exposed to. But looking at the general picture, it still comes down to how our heroes must fight against some kind of inhuman objects, conducted by an antagonist whose power comes from the so-called "Chitauri scepter" (Loki's wand) and ultimately wishes to have the whole human existence to disappear from the surface of the earth... Looking at this statement alone, it is exactly like the first film. So of course, there is definitely room for improvements and innovations in this part of the story, but it doesn’t change the fact that Ultron is a pretty great villain, in my opinion. Maybe not purely as a written character with an impressive and refreshing drive – because he doesn’t quite reach those highs – but when veteran actor, James Spader, brings the character to life, there is no doubt just how intrusive and intimidating he actually appears on the big screen. Furthermore, on yet another positive note, the overall narrative in 'Age of Ultron' feels a bit more coherent than in the first, wherein it seemed mostly like an assembly scenes and superheroes strung together in a single feature film, which made it seem incredibly inconsistent on the whole, but worked quite well as individual scenes and action-heavy situations. There is a bit of the same feeling to find here, in the sequel, but in turn the scenes acts more transitional and a bit more natural, and the villain Ultron, appears to be a lot more dominant and taken matters into his own hands more often, than the passive puppetry Loki did in the first film. So just as Ultron himself so perfectly puts it: "There are no strings on me." Right you are, Sir Ultron!


But it must also be said, that despite the fact that I think it is entirely appropriate to comment on the story in the film – as it always is the fundamental element in every film, however you might choose to look at it – I definitely also understand, that even in the most successful superhero movies, it is primarily the characters who need to blind its audience with distinctive and unique personalities as well as inventive character interactions between them on an amusing dialogue-basis – and they do indeed in this film! What ultimately made the first one succeed as well as it did, was this strangely uneven and nevertheless truly amazing chemistry between the wide-ranging collection of characters, which fills up the screen with that awesome avenging team, which we have come to love. This element is certainly one of the stronger ones here, and when it truly succeeds, it is absolutely fantastic to look at and listen to, and when it doesn’t, it can feel a little too painfully strenuous at times. It definitely works the best when the characters, for once, find some time in their busy schedule of fighting evil forces, to actually portray these characters as the normal human beings they arguably also are, and just let themselves go, while flowing seamlessly along with all the funny incidents. In particular, I refer to what is arguably the best scene in the entire film, actually, where all the characters test their worthiness by trying to lift the incredibly heavy hammer of the almighty, Thor. Despite generally hitting its mark, except a few assembly jokes and “dead on arrival” one-liners down the line, the film almost acts as a parody of itself from time to time, which can throw you off on occasion. Especially because the darker tone they went for doesn’t always mix with the lighter humor…

But of course, it is perfectly understandable that when the team is on a frantic mission – which, by the way, contains the wildest action-expansive-extravaganza as of yet – there is simply not enough time to do any crisscrossing chitchat without unwillingly exposing themselves to even greater dangers than necessary. Therefore, it is at this point in time, where the well-known and typical one-liners get rushed onto this visual all-you-can-eat buffet, full of endless servings of action deliciousness, and pure and simple eye candy ad libitum. This also means that these fast individual sentences either works or they don’t. Fortunately, it is mainly during the opening’s accelerated action sequence – which perhaps stands as the heaviest and most confusing nuisance throughout the entire film – where all the semi-finished and semi-funny one-liners are being blazed onto the screen, preferably at a speed, which is even faster and almost more fuzzy than the manner in which the scenes themselves are handled. Granted, there are definitely a very cool long-take and some interesting angles within these first few minutes, but if you ask me, director Joss Whedon manages to showcase virtually all the evidence needed to prove just how tiring and exhausting modern action movies can be. You add a fair share of slow-motion, which is then thrown into a coalescing and color-crowded computer-generated-chaos, and lastly, thereto added the above-mentioned one-liners, simply to top off the creamy finish with even more cream. As I was sitting there in my seat witnessing this expansive and explosive mess, I truly wanted to get captured by it, but in the end, I felt more like I was being held hostage. Like I was living out a scene from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ my eyes were unwillingly wide-open, to this die-hard/try-hard attempt at a true crowd-pleaser, wherein every trick in the book was used, in the hope that the “wow factor” would blow people out of the theater… I wish…


A very typical technique such as the one above could definitely work to great success, but when the film seems so completely out of control as it does in the beginning, then it all just feels shockingly bad and boring to be a part of – even if empty-headed action-freaks will say it differently. And since the film is constantly looking for an entertainment level, which is so sky-high that it almost struggles to keep up with itself on several occasions, you can clearly see how the director has been looking desperately for more interesting and inventive ways to create mass-destruction. Fortunately, though, the darker tone succeeds in making some of the more dramatic scenes appear stronger and more effective, since they don’t try to downplay it all too much, which is obviously a positive thing. And despite how cliché the story of "Beauty and the Beast" has become over time, it works quite well here, when building a complex relationship between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner. It is certainly a far more dignified attempt, than the forced sentimental scene that gets thrown into the movie within the big climax, which suddenly also assigns some meaning to the two very misplaced elements in the film... But when all this is said and done, I am sure that fans of the first film will love 'Age of Ultron', since it isn’t too far from the style and atmosphere that characterized and graced the first movie.



The Acting
I don’t think it is particularly necessary to spend too much time discussing all the likable recurring acquaintances from our favorite team of heroes. Every actor does a great job with their respective superhero character, but there is no doubt how much Robert Downey Jr. obviously overshadows all the others – both as Iron Man and especially as Tony Stark! A somewhat unappreciated character in my opinion, is the almighty Thor, which, considering how much he stands out from the others, is absolutely fantastic when he babbles away with a good ol’ ancient argot. Occasionally, this type of Norse nonsense seems so far out of place, that it honestly can’t feel more perfect. If there is one person in this entire universe, who can deliver such short and yet so fantastically funny one-liners, it's Chris Hemsworth as Thor. In addition, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner is still the best to play the role so far, while Paul Bettany as Jarvis is allowed to unfold his acting to a greater extent than previously seen… And of course, as I mentioned earlier James Spader is absolutely phenomenal as the predominant power, Ultron!

When it comes to the more negative aspects of acting, the additions of the two X-Men characters seem rather sluggish in its execution. Wearing stupid and laughable jogging suits while speaking with an embarrassing Russian accent, their respective roles in the film seems quite unimportant compared the story the director wants to tell. It honestly seems so forced how they are just crammed in there for the sake of it. One could say, that they are pretty well written into the overall story, but if they come out the other side as a comfortable and important part of the plot is more doubtful. They are mostly put into use when there is something big happening, or when the director needs to cheaply and weakly utilize the characters, only to create some quick emotional investment towards the end – the end result is almost directly embarrassing if you ask me...



The Technical Aspect
If you like to have your superheroism served at full speed on the visual wonders, there is no doubt that 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' certainly brings that to your doorstep with some serious express delivery. Every little trick in the action handbook is applied here, and sometimes it is definitely impressive though maybe a little too overwhelming in a way, but there are definitely some imaginative details to be found here and there. Despite the fact that plenty of people will go absolutely nuts over these statements, I must say that I really don’t understand the condescending comments towards director Michael Bay, in relation to his very confusing and explosive computer-generated action scenes… They are most certainly also to be found here. Well of course, 'Avengers' somehow comes across as more elegant and controlled, and the characters are definitely developed much better too, but the action in 'Transformers' and 'Avengers' can easily be mistaken for one another, in my opinion. Not always, it must be said, but there are certainly some action-heavy sequences that could cross in and out between each universe, without anyone noticing a difference. Even more so it doesn’t help one bit, that the main story in 'Age of Ultron' involves intelligent robots invading the earth. Whether you are fan or foe of Michael Bay, the similarities are striking, no matter how much you try to deny it...


The Soundscape
In a not so surprising manner, there are plenty of goodies to find on the soundscape of 'Age of Ultron', and it is almost the most perfect opportunity to play with practically every conceivable element regarding sound-heavy senselessness. It rumbles and roars when the bass hits seats, it crackles and falls when glass facades are being broken into a thousands pieces, and lastly, everything is topped off with a genuine hero-infused soundtrack, that leaves the whole scenario with that familiar "epic feeling" that is almost a mandatory experience in a movie like this. Again, there is not much originality to find here, but that is exactly what you would expect from a movie like this; it pretty much goes all-in and make every sound system go on a run for its money, until your ears are experiencing something that feels like an inner-earthquake. It is brain-shakingly magnificent and exactly as it should be! Maybe a little rough at times, but it is certainly a great success within its genre.



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SHORT SUMMARY // 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' is a sequel, which in many ways plays the safe cards, but the combination of the darker and more menacing atmosphere, along with a villain who may be neither innovative in character or mindset, but in return is still a perfect execution of an otherwise old cliché. The story seems a bit tighter screwed together than its predecessor, but otherwise the similarities are many, and the parallels evident. That being said, I am sure that fans of the genre and of the first ‘Avengers’ film will be plenty happy with what 'Age of Ultron' has to offer.


FINAL RATING //
-
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About 3350 words... And still not enough to beat JayDee's fanboyism... Dammit.



Master of My Domain
Nice review. Have you seen my Age of Ultron review? I basically criticized the same things you did, but it didn't get any replies.



Nice review. Have you seen my Age of Ultron review? I basically criticized the same things you did, but it didn't get any replies.
I must've missed it! I'll try to remember and go check it out after I finish tonight's movie.



Just doing a quick bump for people who might have missed my last two full reviews.

8. Jurassic World (2015)

9. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Enjoy! JW I did in record-breaking time, while A:AoU might be my longest review as of yet!



"""" Hulk Smashhhh."""
Nice reviews on Jurassic World and Avengers.
__________________
Optimus Reviews
LATEST REVIEW Zack Snyder’s Justice League // Godzilla vs Kong
My Top 50 Favourites

"Banshee is the greatest thing ever. "



Nice reviews on Jurassic World and Avengers.
Thanks Optimus! Appreciate it.

MM - excellent review of Jurassic World. I will see it at some point but might miss it in the cinema sadly.
A shame. I would say it's the perfect IMAX experience, if you have such a theater near you. Watching it in cinemas definitely gives it that extra edge that it needs to become a complete experience. I doubt it will be as great at home, though definitely still a great ride. Oh and thanks for the feedback as always chrisine.



MovieMeditation presents...
— Retro Review —
B E F O R E
S U N R I S E

directed by Richard Linklater
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If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt
of understanding someone, sharing something...

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Introductory essay — escape to realism
‘Before Sunrise’ is a warm and welcome break from the never ending “non-fun films” in the form of “rom-com ho-hum”, which is constantly spreading like an unstoppable plague, wiping out all intellect and rationality left in the human mind. I have a hard time digesting these dull romantic movies, because I usually don’t take my cheese with extra cheese, neither do I add cream and sugar if my taste buds tell me what I’m already eating is sweet enough on its own. I obviously understand the movie medium in the form of pure escapism, which, in this discussion, frequently translates to “women running wild for nearest theater screening of next Nicholas Sparks adaption”. Why? Because their own love life has suddenly hit rock bottom or whatever pathetic excuse needed to sit down and blow through three packs of kleenex in under two hours.

I mean, even a majority of people on this planet still vacuum the ticket sales for the next Transformers movie, and do so to such an extent, that getting an “action fix” should be categorized as any other addiction and as a rising epidemic in our society. Well, at least Transformers fans are people in need of serious help, or a minimum of cinematic guidance, or maybe just some humble comfort for their incurable disorder of extremely bad taste. Not even simple healthy hygiene can do any wonders here… Well, come on, you know I’m just fooling around here, we all have our individual guilty pleasures, each functioning as a cure for something that needs solving – whether it being the ‘soggy break-up’ disc, the ‘hangovers hell’ disc, the ‘I was fired’ disc or the ‘no one loves me’ disc – we all have them, and throw them in the disc player whenever the world has run dry on answers.

The point of all the above is, we are all a shared society when being momentarily in the mood for dodging day-to-day life by the help of cinema. But most of the times, we just don’t go for that new Lars von Trier movie because the term “depressingly good” doesn’t sound like the right type of movie medication, when your girlfriend or boyfriend just broke up with you five hours ago… And taking a huge U-turn here – quickly returning to reality – there are also times when we are tired of filmic formulas and pathetic portrayals of a fantasy world painted to look real. We know it is a hollow facade, but we accept it, because guilty pleasures can be great fun. But such films will never come near those moments where a movie suddenly breaks off the screen and begins to blow into our own world – that, ladies and gentlemen, is the truest form of fairy dust! That right there, is precisely when you remember why you watch movies…




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Review — long live Linklater
There are many things ‘Before Sunrise’ seems to be doing right, but I particularly love how Linklater leaves his characters with a room to breathe and be creative, basically allowing their every-day thoughts and feelings to come naturally, instead of falsely messing around with all the external elements in a desperate attempt to ignite our heart, by persistently drowning it in sappy surrealism. Linklater perhaps fills up his characters with some dialogue leaning towards pseudo-intellectual realism, but try to imagine how boring this film would be without it? Just imagine if Jessie and Celine wasn’t these philosophically-dressed human beings, not expressing themselves this openly about what is and what isn’t. I don’t know about you, but I would probably get up and leave after twenty minutes of talking about favorite hobbies, friends, family, nationality, and not to forget, the god damned weather forecast. Linklater has found the right balance within these characters, trusting the actors with his vision and having the patience to show love as it happens; choosing to unfold these characters and their feelings toward each other at such a quiet and yet comfortable pace, simply makes it possible for the audience to truly care and understand.

This movie just feels so real and natural in its approach, which is something Linklater continues to surprise us with to this day. I like how you almost jump into the conversations with these two characters, nodding and shaking your head in line with whatever is being said. Now when the movie is missing action and major turning points for the characters, it is the actual monologues and interactions between Jessie and Celine, which makes this movie interesting and also what we ultimately judge the movie on. I would like to point out that the opening minutes, the listening booth, and the phone scene are clear stand outs here, in my opinion. But of course, there are going to be conversations you feel less interested in and some you absolutely love, which is also why the so-called “dull parts” comes in the form of which subject you are personally interested in the most. However, I think the film does a fine job at keeping things going at a smooth pace, so that we don’t feel stuck in a loop of letters formed to words formed to sentences. It all feels natural and with the help of two talented actors Linklater pulls this one home in grand style. But what is even better about having a romance feeling this real, is how I can finally sit down and watch a romantic movie, where I don’t have to persistently point at the screen and tell the two “lovebirds” to move out of the pouring rain and continue their kissing under the roof right next them… I’m also free of any bare-chested beach-shots of Ethan Hawke running in slow motion with his sunglasses and surfboard… Wait a minute, is this even a romantic film after all?


If this is really a romantic picture, then where is the canons of colored glitter; ready to explode whenever the film becomes a tad too boring? Where is the enormous point of no return, where the characters are left without hope or love in sight? Where is that ending, which brings back the hope we thought was forever lost and the couple lives happy forever after? Of course I don’t want to sound like I’m saying Linklater has completely revolutionized the genre, since some of the best romances in cinema history also relied heavily on a quitter setting, containing two characters and their ever-interesting emotional connection; with films like ‘Casablanca’ for example. But Linklater’s style is still so special and completely his own, that I wouldn’t ever say he leans towards anybody else in the business. ‘Before Sunrise’ may be a hard film to get through if you aren’t one hundred percent committed to it, but if you are then the minutes are going to fly by!

You could continue to criticize this film for everything it is doing differently from other movies of its genre, but I find it hard to see why you shouldn’t at least try to welcome such a warm change, to what has become a cold climatic state for modern romantic films; a genre, basically running on recycled trash, which is definitely great for the “movie environment” and the deep pockets of the studios, but seeing some true originality within this genre should be accepted with open arms in my opinion. Not only should Linklater be hailed for being brave on all sorts of aspects, but he should definitely also be clapped past the finish line when pulling home a 100-minute movie, which is essentially one giant dull part, if I were to put it all in black and white here. This previous statement is not meant as a critique what so ever, though you could say its strong aspects are also its weak ones, since all this movie has to keep the audience intrigued is two people talking to each other. There are no major turning points throughout; there are no third gender creating a love triangle; there is no cheesy beginning or epic ending. It is just two people running into each other, feeling some type of connection and choose to just go with it; and I choose to happily go along…


-

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This review became much longer than it should have been so I thought it was fitting to post it in this thread instead. I also did the introductory piece out of nowhere, and the words just seemed to glide along. I actually said way back when, that this thread would also be for essays and other fun write-ups, but I never got around to doing any. Maybe this will give me some kind of drive to continue to do something a bit different. I hope you find the introduction amusing and exciting and of course I hope you enjoy the review as well!

- MM



Because their own love life has suddenly hit rock bottom or whatever pathetic excuse needed to sit down and blow through three packs of kleenex in under two hours.
If you aren't sore after that you never will be.



NEXT REVIEW: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE - ROGUE NATION

Going on the 28th. Review coming shortly after...
Is that a typo or do you have connections? Opens on the 31st.



I have to return some videotapes.
Is that a typo or do you have connections? Opens on the 31st.
He lives overseas so he can go early to a press release (iirc)



Is that a typo or do you have connections? Opens on the 31st.
Cole is more or less correct.

I don't think it's because of where I live (it premieres the 30th here), but it's because I'm a film critic in my spare time, and can partipate in the press screenings of the film, which is always a few days before the official premiere.

Sometimes it's even months before, but not with popular movies like Mission Impossible...



MovieMeditation presents...
— Retro Review —
B E F O R E
S U N S E T

directed by Richard Linklater
______________________________________________



Life's hard, it's supposed to be.
If we didn't suffer, we'd never learn anything...

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Introductory essay — is it possible to arrive too soon to a sunset?
Before I invite you all into this conversation with me and begin to talk in great lengths about this film, I firstly want to walk you through my thoughts and feelings about my first cinematic trip to Paris, in the company of the follow-up feature to ‘Before Sunrise’, and how this latest revisit almost turned my initial encounter counter-clockwise on itself...

After passionately participating in some nice nightly strolls through the streets of Vienna before sunrise, I definitely felt dressed for the occasion of another trip together with these lovely individuals, though this time I would be walking through the streets of Paris before sunset. Soon after I had come down to earth again, after having experienced the first film, I quickly rushed out to get my hands on the second one. But unfortunately, this second affair seemed to be stripped almost completely of that prior elegant enquires about the mysterious, the superficial and the magic and meaning of love. And while love is blind I certainly wasn’t, and I could see the progression in the story and within its characters was only natural, but still I missed how their love seemed to be constantly on the rise, in comparison to how they were still settling in with each others company again, during this second encounter. It does make sense though, how they were mostly discovering things during ‘Sunrise’, while the night was still young, where in ‘Sunset’ they began to examine everything further, while there was still light at the end of the tunnel. But in relation to ‘Before Sunrise’ you could say, as genuine and authentic the approach to love and romance is, as superficial is it. But the film also makes a point with this statement, since it equally shows love as this genuine encounter between two people with similar interests, while also showing how magical and endlessly lasting love can make everything feel. I guess I was simply caught off guard with how ‘Before Sunset’ was set up, and how it didn’t feel as everlasting as before. But with that being said, I guess the problem lies more with me than with the movie, since my current state in life is more on the rise than about to set.

Because I'm still living out my younger days, so obviously I relate more to the first film and connect more with the characters at that point in their lives, because that is where I am now in my life. You know, finding love, living out long nights, longing after new faces and all that. So when watching ‘Sunset’ at this point in time, I haven’t personally caught up with the characters as of yet. But even though I haven’t evolved much in terms of age since my last visit, I have definitely evolved more as a cinephile and as a human being, within this small timeframe. I feel like I can relate to certain subjects to a greater extent, though I mostly just understand their situation a lot better than I did the last time. How I came to arrive at this place in time or how I came to understand the themes that took place doesn’t really matter much. What matters in the end is that I’m no longer upset about arriving too early to a sunset, because I found time to spend before the sunset, while knowing there will be more waiting in the future…




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Review — a new beginning to an old affair
The film starts out with Jessie, who has written a book based upon the eternal encounter he had in Vienna with this beautiful French woman, Celine. As Jessie says later in the film, he wrote the book as a way to try and find his long lost love, which sounds pretty sweet but with a bitter aftertaste. In a way, the scenario of them meeting is no longer based upon chance or destiny, but instead based on fact and with a small drop of fiction. Personally, I love to discuss what might be rather what is… what can happen instead of what has happened… what lies in front of me instead of what lies behind. But this film starts out in a way that completely contradicts with these previous statements, since the book basically goes against each and every one of these sayings and also lays ground for their eventual discussions. And though not every subject of conversation submerges within these blocked boxes of narrow reality, the conversations are still about their past lives and partly their present lives, while a bright future is nowhere to be found. It took me more than one watch to accept the authentic angle of which Richard Linklater had covered up this follow-up in, but when I finally did, I was able to departure from prior anticipations and focus more on the future of my current viewing.

‘Before Sunset’ definitely dives deeper within the opinions and debates, compared to the almost floating thoughts and loose discussions of the first one. As of now, the discussions have turned so serious, at times even depressing in fact, and though it can feel all the more hitting because of this, it may also make the viewer feel more distanced to what is happening – especially for those who are not currently married with kids nor presently going through any kind of mid-life crisis. What I’m trying to get at here is this… as soon as one of these characters, especially Celine, began to stretch out subjects of first and second world problems, as well as country-particular politics and environmental worries, I was quickly longing for that lively spark of love and life’s philosophies from the past. Obviously, I do find current and serious situations both interesting and important, but in relation to the film itself, I just wasn’t particularly excited to overhear such dialogues – or rather flat one-sided monologues in most cases actually. Jessie was often one to lead the waltz of wonderful discussions, filled with wonder and mystery, while Celine basically took over several places in this film, especially in the beginning, with something a tad more boring and a bit more tiring. When Celine was babbling away about these things, she felt more like a speaker in court than a human being having a conversion. It ended up a little too exhausting at times, to hear about her concerns for everything around her, as well as her problems with work and life in general. But even so, most of these discussions felt natural and was very well-written, and they did more or less hold my attention as well – though I lost interest a couple of places throughout – but only for a few seconds. In most cases, it was like I had finally connected with some of these subjects, but then I found myself once again wondering why I couldn’t really get into the characters and their current situation, only to return to the reality of the film quickly after.

What I’m trying to say here, is how it just felt a little weird seeing Jessie and Celine meet at this mid-point in their lives… in a state of mind and soul, where they were both living at a very different place in their respective lives. But still they clearly have a connection with each other, holding some strong emotional feelings as well, which have been building up for nine years prior to this meeting. I might have sounded negative about how I described this natural evolvement into a new milestone in their lives, and how they glanced upon their past encounter, but despite how weird everything felt at first, and considering the complains I had toward some of their other discussions, it is precisely at this point where things started to become interesting. Even though their discussions are less magical and superficial; less dreamy and exciting; I loved to hear about how their encounter countless years ago has effected their lives as of now, and how they can’t seem to let go for various reasons. How they look back at this encounter and be filled up with complete joy, only to have it all come back to haunt them later. The really interesting discussions come from the periods where they bring up what happened nine years ago, what happened after they went separate ways, and how it connects to them now… how that one night has confused their lives, changed their personalities, and how they can't leave it behind… how they see good and bad things with the fact that they have met each other, and particularly how they both struggle when they are far away from one another.

It was a lot of fun to witness their respective perceptions of their past encounter in Vienna and how they went about their lives afterwards, especially how they both chose to remember the night differently. Jessie wrote an entire book within a span of four entire years, reliving that one night over and over again, while Celine had kept a thorough journal about every little detail. The film and these more emotional discussions keep growing throughout, all the way from the opening scene to the beautiful closing scene, with the film truly picking up and catching my full attention when they go on a boat trip through the city. During this trip they dive seriously deep within themselves, both as individuals and as joined souls, where the discussions go from surfaced troubles to strong inner emotions. To witness Jessie talk about his marriage, his kids and how he feels as if his life has passed him by without that one person he hoped to be with during this timespan, is all very touching and reaches something within you.


Same goes for Celine when she describes her mid-life crisis, especially when they ride in the car home to her apartment. I remember not being very fond of this passage in the film, where they would go up against each other to a point where they were almost about to give up on their current situation. Celine’s endless talk of how she hasn’t been able to recover from their departure that morning in Vienna nine years ago has never hit me as hard as it did during this particular passage. At this point, I finally began to understand her and the situation she is currently living in, unable to escape from it all. This scene reaches its high mark once she extends her hand towards Jessie, but she then stops for a second, and takes it back with the look of sheer confusion, inner pain and a split conflict. Jessie has a similar scene where he talks about the awful dreams he has had about Celine, waking up in cold sweat and having a hard time explaining this to his wife. He can’t stop thinking about her, not during the intimate moments at home or even during their wedding day… So, that they met each other may be a gift, but the fact that they didn’t end up together is like a curse to both of them.

The film ends on a bittersweet note, where you are uncertain of where things will go from here, but you see a little hope within the last scene even so. I do miss the scenario in ‘Before Sunrise’, where they were these two people walking around while the night was still young – a night that just felt never-ending, because they lived out every moment like it was eternal. But in ‘Before Sunset’, it was more about how they had little time to catch up on, how they were constantly trying to push their “break-up” further away, hoping to be in each other’s company just a little bit more. During this rewatch, I was able to be a lot more present within the various moments, rather than focus on the fact that these moments were about to run out. But still, I’m not a fan of how their route seems premeditated so that it fits together with the eventual departure, or how their journey feels so “locked in place” this time around. With the first film, it was like an explorer’s adventure through love and life itself, while the second film is more of a destined path for turning over old rocks. They created a spark instantly in the first film, now they walk through Paris trying to rekindle that spark. “Where can we go until you need to go?” is a question that feels constant throughout. I do understand how it resembles their wish to keep this moment going for eternity, how they simply can’t leave each other all over again and how they can’t cut the connection like last time. It is quite obvious they want to keep talking; after all they have nine years of feelings and thoughts to let out.

Anyways, as I said the ending was kind of beautiful; that song Celine did for Jessie was really great and fit perfectly with the tone during those last minutes. It kind of reminded me of the listening booth in the music store, in ‘Before Sunrise’, and how their looks spoke a thousand words. Within this guitar scene the magic can be felt again, though this film generally goes for a more serious tone throughout, as I stated previously. Again, it is only a natural progression for the story and these characters to take. It isn’t like the approach is all wrong with this film, but I don't think the balance between a time that has past and a spark that is still glowing is perfectly done all the time. But actually, this used to be my least favorite in the series, and though it still may be until I get around a rewatch of ‘Midnight’, I finally appreciated it enough to have the film officially win me over… Accepting the progression of the story lead to an amazing experience, which was perhaps less magical, but at times it got under the skin in ways the first one never managed to do. It is a film that doesn’t play the same strings all over, neither does it play within the same genre of music, but the stories are equally touching – just bringing forward different emotions; different subject matters; and different milestones in the evolution of a genuine relationship…


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Looks like I better bring a review of 'Midnight' too, so I can complete my trilogy of retro reviews here... At least I have just about seven years until I have to do a review of a 'Before' film again, which is quite a relief. Because these have been exhausting, though I love the movies eternally...

- MM



I have to return some videotapes.
An intro essay then a full review on Before Sunrise? I see a shade of JD!

Very nice review, even though I haven't seen it