Saturday, May 2, 2015

Tra la, It's May . . . Oh, Wait, It's Already May? Hey!

(Note: This post was written for yesterday. Alas, I was crazy busy and it didn't quite make it)


I blame Camelot.* That song drives me crazy every May 1st. In the musical, Queen Guinevere sings a trilling, suggestive ditty about the things people get up to on May Day. May Day is, of course, the traditional spring festival in Britain (and several other places). There is a lot of history and custom involved, including the iconic maypole, and the usual Catholic/Celtic/Pagan roots debate. None of that has anything to do with this post, so I'll leave it there.

The point is, I cannot get that song out of my head.

Now that I got it out of my system, Happy May Day! Do you have any plans for the month?
My first plan involved Avengers, but I'll get to that in a moment.

Before that, we have the really awesome May Event:
At the end of May, I am going to BEA (Book Expo America) for the first time, and I am so excited! (and overwhelmed, but mostly excited)
Excitedexcitedexcited
Anyhow, if you don't know what BEA is, here is an official description (which I took from the above link):

"BookExpo America (BEA) 2015 is THE show for booksellers—both independent and chain. There's no better place to find the next big author, book, or trend in the publishing world.
With world-class education, networking, and the latest trends in the publishing industry, you’re sure to leave BEA armed with what you need to make your bookstore thrive.
  • Access the largest show floor in North America with exhibitors showcasing their upcoming books—covering every genre, from across the country and around the world.
  • Discover the latest books and get advanced copies.
  • Meet and get autographs from 600+ popular and upcoming authors.
  • Attend education sessions where you’ll learn how to differentiate your bookstore, maximize your business, and thrive in today’s challenging world of books and publishing.
  • See the latest digital products, technologies, and trends first-hand to help you become knowledgeable about where the industry is heading.
  • Network with professionals from every aspect of the publishing industry. Make valuable connections that can make your business more efficient and profitable." (quote from bookexpoamerica.com)
So, as a bookseller, you can see why it would be useful, right? As a book lover, I am spazzing out. And I am not normally that excitable. 
                                                   (you know, like this guy ^^^^^^^^^^^ )
In the mean time, I have to plan my strategy for signings and education sessions, galley giveaways, and everything else. Also, I'm going to be in NEW YORK, so I'd like to spend the post-BEA hours exploring Manhattan. So, it is spreadsheet and list making time. However, I also have 5 reviews due to the periodical I write for, a book camp to plan for the store, books to read for June, my job, and all grown-up bills to pay before I get there. That's where the overwhelmed comes in.
So, to get away from all of that, I went and saw Avengers: Age of Ultron instead. 


If you don't have a tv, or a computer (then how are you reading this?), or have been hidden away in a compound to protect yourself from enemy agents, you probably know that the first Avengers was a thing. A very profitable thing. It was also (surprising critics but not us fans), really awesome. So it was not without trepidation that I sallied forth into the second pre-showing last night.

My verdict: I loved it! So it wasn't The Dark Knight, or Chariots of Fire, or Return of the King, or _______ (fill in the blanks with your best movie ever), but it was really fun, and it pulled a bunch of diverse Marvel characters together in a comprehensible way. And I love Joss Whedon's snappy battle wit and snarky dialogue, and I had not trouble telling the characters apart. 
So, no serious spoilers here, but a quick rundown of what worked/did not work:

5 Things I liked:
  1. Hawkeye. I love him in the comics, and I appreciated his screentime and snappy quips. He's the normal guy, the one we relate to, and Jeremy Renner did a lovely job with it.
  2. THE VISION. Everything involving the Vision. Particularly when they also involved Thor.
  3. Battle humor. Like I mentioned above, the sharp, witty dialogue that Whedon is known for is in full blast here. We re-meet the Avengers as a team who has started to get to know each other, and they are a lot like a crazy family.
  4. Black Widow. I love Black Widow-she is smart, versatile, funny, nuanced, talented, and at her core, a damaged human being with a complex past. Age of Ultron built on the arc she took through Winter Soldier.
  5. The revamped Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch. Ditching Wanda's comic look was a mercy to everyone, in my opinion. They stayed true to her quirky, gypsy roots, and said goodbye to the 80's swimsuit and pink tights (and whatever she was wearing on her head). On a deeper level, their characters were adapted well, and I think the new team will bring interest to the MCU.
And this is one of her less offensive ensembles . . .
(image credit: comicbookresources.com)
5 Things I didn't like as much:
  1. Black Widow and Hulk? I have no issue with this as a plot point, but it was clumsy and there wasn't much of a foundation. It's like there was this whole developing relationship between Avengers 1 and 2, and we missed it. Personally, I like the absence of side romances in the Avengers movies, and it is fine with me if it stays that way. I think any plot that is so emotion heavy is better off in the solo movies, such as Iron Man or Thor, etc, and that there just isn't room in the ensemble pieces.
  2. No Winter Soldier.** Okay, Bucky wouldn't have fit in the movie, and he has nothing to do with anything, but I am trying to find things I didn't like here!
  3. They didn't show what Hulk was seeing during the Hulkbuster fight. He was the only one, and it wasn't a real plot twist, so at least they could have shown us what the big guy thought he was doing. For clarity.
  4. We could have had a little more Ultron exposition, and a little less action (edit that bit in Wakanda,*** maybe?). I thought Ultron was creepy and interesting, and James Spader was great, but I felt like he lacked depth (a typical Marvel movie complaint, but what can you do?).
  5. I am really digging deep, as I loved the movie, but my final nit to pick is: editing. I am astonished that anyone can pull of a giant movie with a full cast, but I think the editors could have made the movie flow a little better. It dragged in strange places, and some of the early movie action could have been scrapped to help the flow.
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars. It wasn't perfect (Winter Soldier is still my favorite MCU outing to date), but I still loved it.

Did you see Age of Ultron? Are all things Marvel strange to you? Are you a comic purist? Sound off in the comments below :)

Cheers!

Footnotes:

*Camelot basically destroyed me as a kid. I was a huge King Arthur buff, and it was so depressing. Even though I actually liked it.
** I love James Buchanan Barnes. I love Ed Brubaker's Winter Soldier arc. I love that movie. 'nuff said.
***I also love Black Panther. But this is not his movie, and that awesomeness isn't out yet.