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Rev Simon Carver reviews the best of the new releases for May, including the new Pitch Perfect and the 11th film from the Marvel studios.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Rating 8/10 12A 113 mins
This is the 11th Marvel studios film and they don’t seem to be running out of steam. This second Avengers film brings all the regular superheroes back again to face a new foe. Whereas in Marvel Avengers Assemble the team were defending earth from a enemy that was from outside this world, the adversary here was of their own creation. Tony Stark/Iron Man had managed to create a sentient robot, Ultron. The problem was that the robot had also received the Avengers’ mission to save the world and believed that the only way that this could be achieved was by exterminating humanity.
There is less action here than in the last Avengers film. Nor does Robert Downey Jr’s character, Tony Stark/Iron Man, occupy the screen as before. This time, the stand-out character is Ultron, voiced by James Spader. Ultron is more than a robot and Spader makes him far more sinister, while also more human than any ‘tin man’. For those who like this sort of thing, there are some interesting theological themes being played out here about humankind being in need of salvation, but also about how the world needs saving from us.
Pitch Perfect 2
Rating 6½/10 12A 115 mins
On the back of the success of television’s Glee, Pitch Perfect was a success when it was released three years ago and so it isn’t a great surprise that a sequel has arrived (a second sequel is also rumoured). The plot of the original film involved the journey of a female a cappella group at an American university towards the national championships. In Pitch Perfect 2 the group are aiming for the world championship, but otherwise the plot is fairly similar. The original film was irreverent, but funny. Much of the humour was focused around Rebel Wilson’s character ‘Fat Amy’ and Wilson takes an even more central role this time, which is not necessarily a good thing. The humour is broader and the film suffers for that. While there is little that is seriously offensive in PP2, one might not treat an easily shocked proverbial maiden aunt to see this.
The Age of Adaline
Rating 8/10 12A 112 min
Blake Lively plays Adaline Bowman, a woman born more than 100 years ago, but now, following a freak accident, she is stuck with the body of a 29 year-old. This might not sound like the world’s biggest problem, but how do you explain that your daughter looks like your grandmother? How too do you keep a relationship going when you cannot grow old together, because you just don’t grow old? All this comes to a head when Adaline decides to stop running away from love and starts to think about settling down with Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman). Ellis’s father (Harrison Ford) thinks that Adaline looks very familiar…and with good reason as many years ago he was in his son’s shoes. The ending will not come as a huge surprise to viewers, but this is nonetheless an enjoyable fantasy romance that suggests that immortality is not all it’s cracked up to be. It might encourage Christian viewers to think about how living forever differs from eternal life.