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To Pimp a Butterfly soars to new heights

by Henry Montiero

When it comes to popular rap- pers at the moment, Kendrick may not be the most commer- cially successful, but no rapper can reach his level of acclaim in every breath. Sure, there’s Kanye West, but for him, the ac- claim comes mostly for his pro- duction and grandiosity. Mean- while Kendrick’s skill comes from his pure ability at the mic, with his flow and lyricism nearly unmatched in this current gen- eration.

After achieving mild success with his first album “Section.80,” Kendrick blew people away with his 2012 sophomore release “GoodKidMaadCity.”Serving as a critique of the Gangsta Rap genre and all of its various cli- ches and tropes, “Maad City” mixed sharp lyrics with a clas- sic West Coast groove, anchored by the approval of artists like Drake, Jay-Z, and the legendary producer of Kendrick’s influenc- es, Dr. Dre. The release went down immediately as a modern classic, and is often considered one of the best albums of the de- cade, if not of all time.

Over the last three years since its release, people have been anxiously awaiting the new re- lease, a feeling only boosted by the release of the single “i” in 2014. The single showed a switch from the chilled out grooves of “Good Kid,” moving further into influences from classic soul and funk music, combined with a message of self-love. Followed by an excellent guest spot on “Never Catch Me” by Flying Lo- tus, a currently unreleased and unnamed song that was debuted on “The Colbert Report” and the second album single “The Black- er the Berry,” all eyes were on “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Could it possibly live up to “Good Kid?” Not only does it live up to that album, in almost every way, it exceeds it.

Even from the first song “Wesley’s Theory,” it’s clear that Kendrick has flipped his style, but remains as forward thinking as ever. Opening with a sample of Boris Gardiner’s “Every Nig- ger is a Star,” the song communicates the theme of the release; Kendrick is black and proud. It is drenched in the sweat of the Ferguson riots and their aftermaths, with the release sounding like a soundtrack to the current paranoia of African Americans and other cultural groups against the police and their tending towards violence. The songs feel like a call to arm against these groups, even shift- ing the self-love sounding single version of “i” into a live perfor- mance that nearly breaks into a riot.

However, at the same time, the message never overtakes the songs, and the songs never overpowerthemessage.Thetwo work in near perfect unity, with the message directly influencing the sound throughout. Kendrick takes from the sounds of many genres commonly considered to be “black,” expanding from the chilled hip hop sound of before, to influences from R ‘n’ B, funk, soul, jazz, and even the harder boom bap hip hop sounds of the 80s.

This release is certainly more chaotic than previous releas- es, even on the chiller tracks like the Sufjan Stevens sam- pling “Hood Politics.” Kendrick throws out so many beats and samples that, on first listen, it can feel overbearing. Eventu- ally though, the chaotic sounds begins to fuse together, and el- ements that began as bizarre choices that sound haphazardly thrown together at first begin to make sense. Still, when the listener first begins listening to it, even the most obvious single, “King Kunta,” can sound busy and overwhelming. This is not an album to just wander into, put on at the supermarket, and forget the whole thing later the same day. This album is an ex- perience to remember.

“Butterfly,” as has become the standard in rap, does feature its share of guest artists. However, Kendrick uses his relatively few guests to their best capability, grabbing a large range of musi- cians, young and old, to expand the sound into the scope that it reaches. On “Good Kid,” Ken- drick primarily used features that fit in with the sound of the album, as in the west coast, chilled out vibe, with guest spots from Jay-Z, Dr Dre, and label mate Jay Rock.
 

On “Butterfly,” the guest features are still used to fit the sound, but they’re expanded upon, contributing to the de- cade-spanning sound. It has standard rap guests like Snoop Dogg on “Institutionalized” and Dr Dre for a brief cameo in “Wes- ley’s Theory,” both serving more as a narrator and an element of the story, respectively. On the other hand, however, “Butter- fly” has artists who are not quite as expected on a release like this. Sure, there’s the wonky, jazz influences of Flying Lotus and Thundercat, with Lotus as the producer of the first track, and Thundercat serving as a bass player for more than a few tracks. At first, they wouldn’t be as expected, but it makes sense when the listener remember Kendrick’s guest appearance on “Never Catch Me.” Less expect- ed, however, is George Clinton, lead singer of the Parliament/ Funkadelic groups, the codifier of funk as we know it, and the grandfather of hip hop since its earliest days. He also appears on “Wesley’s Theory,” sounding like a god older than time itself, serving as the introduction to the album proper.

Most unexpected, more than anyone else, however, is who comes at the very end of “Butter- fly.”Attheendof“MortalMan,” after 70 minutes of this whirl- wind of an album, Kendrick sits down to have a conversation with none other than the figure- head, emblem, and gospel of rap, Tupac Shakur. Using an inter- view that remained unreleased, Kendrick edited the interview into a conversation between the two, discussing the politics of today and Tupac’s time, and the black man’s position in either.

This ties back to what is re- ally the main purpose behind “Butterfly,” which is its mes- sage. Kendrick deals the cur- rent racial politics in America, and Kendrick is more than up to the task of tackling that mes- sage. On every song, he spits his bars with brilliant anger, but al- ways tempers it with a splash of self-reflection. He never comes off as the angry young man complaining about the govern- ment from a soapbox, spitting out rhetoric and statistics, since it’s combined with personal re- sponse and his own experiences. It’s an album filled with rage, but enough self-awareness to know that he can’t just support an album with that. Kendrick also needs some great songs.

Luckily, “Butterfly” delivers on that front superbly. Every song is great on its own, along with in the context of the re- lease.

“Wesley’s Theory,” apart from being a great intro, also serves as a fascinating disturbance in the world of hip hop, with its

wobbly bass and Flying Lotus beat, all anchored by Kendrick’s excellent storytelling skills.

“For Free,” even as just an interlude, is an excellent track, with Kendrick almost sounding like an argument on the street corner, while a full jazz band plays on the other side of the street. The song takes a clear in- fluence from Mile Davis’ classic “On the Corner” LP, and while the repeated cries of “this dick ain’t free” may sound ridiculous at first, it’s something that be- comes more reasonable after a bit of research, referring to the sexual abuse suffered by slaves by male and female owners alike.

“These Walls” marks a tran- sition from more direct politi- cally charged songs to one with a more sexually charged ener- gy, but still works in the style of the album, using its topic as a speaking point for the sexu- al politics of black women. And even with that, it’s a new song for the Spotify playlist of classic make-out tracks.

“u” shows a more vulnerable side of Kendrick, as he drinks away his pain over a recent breakup. It shows that he is not afraid of not being as tradition- ally macho and invulnerable as other rappers, allowing his screams and yelling to serve as a scene-setter just as much as its beat.

And that’s just four of the songs, on a sixteen song long album. “Butterfly” clocks in at over 70 minutes, but every min- ute is entirely worth listening to. This album serves as an experi- ence, one is not to be missed by anyone who claims to love mu- sic. “Butterfly” will go down as a modern classic, and Kendrick is now fully in place to be labeled as one of the greatest rappers of all time. This is a mandatory listen.

5/5

The long awaited Grand Theft Auto V comes to PC

by Brandon Yuen

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“Grand Theft Auto V” is an open-world adventure game where the player take upon the role of three main characters, Michael Townley, Franklin Clinton and Trevor Phillips. The player plays the game through the perspectives of all three pro- tagonists, where the decisions that the player makes can in- fluence the outcome of the mis- sion or the overall ending of the game. With the gameplay near flawless and the action nev- er-ending, having no PC version on the release date was very dis- heartening.

GTA V was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 17th, 2013. The much anticipated release gen- erated more than $800 million in worldwide revenue within 24 hours of its release, and, within a three days, it had hit one bil- lion dollars in revenue, causing it to be the fastest selling en- tertainment product in history. There’s no doubt that the game was highly successful.

The question was “How will this game keep up with the new generation consoles such as the PS4 and Xbox One?” Rockstar, the developers of GTA V, had come up with a solution that would overall benefit them and the consumers by releasing an updated version for the new gen- eration consoles.

GTA V was re-released on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 14, 2014. This new release came with a load of new features including the long-awaited first-person mode, denser traffic, upgraded weather effects, new wildlife, and more. This allowed for more immersive gameplay which in turn allows for replay value of the game. The first-person view

creates a whole new gameplay experience with new animations and a true feel over being able to operate vehicles and use weap- ons.

GTA V for PC was set to be released alongside the eighth generation consoles, the Xbox One and PS4, but was delayed multiple times due to Rockstar wanting to “polish” the game. The initial release date was set to November 14, 2014, and end- ed up not being released until April 14, 2015.

GTA V for PC comes with many new features including the unique Rockstar Editor mode, which allows players to capture and edit gameplay vid- eos directly from the game itself. The game is also playable at 60 frames per second (FPS) at a 4K resolution while on the PC ver- sion.

In terms of gameplay, GTA V for PC has an increased GTA Online player cap at 30 simulta- neous players instead of the 16 players on Xbox 360 and PS3. The game itself seems pretty similar to the other versions, but on the PC the graphics definite- ly seem enhanced. It felt much smoother compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions. It wasn’t nearly as choppy. The online multiplayer also seemed to fare better on the PC version. De- spite the near flawless release, I did happen to encounter a bug.2

When I tried to play multi- player, the game would some- times crash after I’d complete a mission, causing a very slight annoyance in having to restart the game and going through the loading process again.

Besides that, Grand Theft Auto V for the PC has been incredible since day one. The games can hold much more peo-

ple and the enhanced graphics make you feel immersed into the storyline of the deranged Trev-

or Phillips, distorted Michael ter than this. Townley, and confused Franklin
Clinton. It doesn’t get much bet-

Far Cry 4 is a cry for joy

by Jasprit Samra

 

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When oppressive leaders take control the people will almost al- ways revolt.

“Far Cry 4,” developed and published by Ubisoft, is a first person shooter video game set in an open world fictional country in the Himalayas “Kyrat.” The game’s storyline is inspired by the ten year Maoist insurgency in Nepal.

The open world is huge al- lowing players to explore the rich land full of wild animals and plants.

“Far Cry 4” offers a variety of weapons such as side guns, assault rifles, heavy weapons, bows and more.

The world is divided into two halves, North and South Kyrat. The player starts in South Kyrat and is free to explore almost im- mediately but can only unlock North Kyrat over the course of the story. Liberating bell towers and clearing outposts will un- lock further side-quests includ- ing escort missions, hostage res- cues and bomb disposal quests

and hunting missions.
The main character Ajay Gha-

le, returns to his home country of Kyrat to carry out his mother, Ishwari, final wish by scatter- ing her ashes in a place called Lakshmana. However, his mis- sion is interrupted when the Royal Army attacks his bus and he is taken prisoner by Pagan Min, the country’s violent king who claims to have been roman- tically involved with Ishwari. The rebellion (Golden Path) has been fighting back, claim- ing that Ajay is the symbol for victory since his father started the Golden Path and he has re- turned.

What I like about the set- ting is the variety of wildlife like tigers, elephants, rhinos, and more that come in and hit whoever the animals sees. The amount of wildlife makes the world more lively.

I like that the world is very huge and players can spend hours adventuring into the open landscapes and finding hidden

caves, temples and treasures. The world also has live events. For example a random war starts between the Golden Path and the royal army and the play- er can join the Golden Path in their attack.

The story felt very realistic to me because the game makes players feel like they are in a revolution. The game has an option to choose sides, which affects the whole storyline. The graphics were beautiful with the vivid green forest full with de- tails like bugs and more.

I didn’t like how being stealthy was really hard. When I try to hide behind a bush en- emies still see me. Enemies can see players even if they’re hiding behind a bush. The open world is huge but it is mostly empty with only the usual trees and animals, which is kind of disap- pointing.

7.5/10

Furious 7 takes fury to the next level

by Philip Wang

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A slick, sharp, orange 3.4 million dollar luxury car, called “The Beast,” unleashes its chained up fury onto the fragile glass mirrors of three five-tower skyscrapers. Roaring through the screens onto the next sky- scraper, the Lykan HyperSport car is masterfully driven the fac- es of the major franchise, “Fast and the Furious”, Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto and Paul Walk- er as Brian O’Connor.

“Furious 7” has opened in theaters on April 3, 2015, direct- ed by James Wan and starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Lu- dacris, Michelle Rodriguez and Tyrese Gibson.

Opening with a monstrous $1.32 billion sales in the first three weeks of release, “Furi- ous 7” is according to denofgeek. us the fifth biggest movie of all time, beating out “Frozen” and catching up to the final “Harry Potter” movie.

Furious 7 definitely delivers and lives up to the hype. Every minute is filled with action, com- edy, cars, inspiration and nos- talgia. In the opening scene, Ian Shaw, played by Jason Statham, infiltrates a government office to steal confidential information

and avenge his brother, Owen Shaw who starred as the main antagonist in “Furious 6.” This time the big, bad brother be- gins his hunt on Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) family.

After kill-
ing Han Seoul
Oh, who is a member of Toretto’s family played by Sung Kang, in “Furious 6,” Shaw goes on a wild goose chase to avenge his broth- er. Shaw’s vengeance dictates the rest of the plot, and he con- stantly interferes with Toretto’s plans.

Although the plot is not very original, the characters and in- tense stunts in this movie are unparalleled. In a scene where Toretto’s gang tries to infiltrate a highly secured fortress to res- cue a hacker, instead of sneak- ing into the fortress from the back like regular people, Roman Pierce, played by Tyrese Gibson who is another member of To- retto’s group, has the naivety

to infiltrate the place from the sky. Yet, Pierce’s reckless idea causes him to be dropped from a plane by fellow teammate Tej, played by Ludacris, and actually fall from thousands of feet in the sky while praying and scream- ing for help in his car. This scene shows how every member of the family has his or her specific role and character.

Each character has his or her own unique personality. Diesel plays a quiet but serious and

loving leader . He is a brother who guides his family to success. Walker plays a loyal and reckless member who would do any- thing for his family. Rodriguez, playing as Leddie, plays a concerned wan- derer who does not remember her past. Ludacris plays the smart, tech guy who informs the

family of dangers and opportu- nities from behind the screen. Lastly, Gibson plays the comic relief (his stupidity is next level) of this emotional rollercoaster.

Despite the extreme action and excitement Wan manages to deliver, the movie’s success is probably most attributed to the passing of the franchise’s face, Paul Walker. On Novem- ber 30th, 2013, Walker and his friend passed away in an acci- dent in Valencia, CA while try- ing out a new Porsche. He had already acted half of “Furious 7” before he died, so his broth- ers, who shockingly look exact- ly like him, finished the film in his absence. Innovatively, Wan

decides to use CGI to generate Walker’s face in the second half of the movie, which looks exactly like the real person. Additional- ly, Walker’s death changes the ending of the movie, which will not be spoiled here.

His death has caused major grieving from his family, friends and many loyal fans. In honor of his death, rapper Wiz Khalifa dedicated a song with Charlie Puth “See You Again”. Already with over 100 million views on Youtube in less than three weeks, Khalifa and Puth deliv- ered a sentimental, nostalgic and heart-breaking song to send Walker away.

Despite the passing of the franchise’s star, Wan shows no sign of ending the series. Toret- to has already confirmed that “Furious 8” (official name to be announced) will open on April 14th, 2017.

“Furious 7” executes mastery of action, humor and emotions even without a unique and de- veloped plot, but perhaps, a “Fu- rious 8” will solve this problem and take the franchise to a fur- ther level.

Rating: 4.5/5

Marvel makes daring approach for new Netflix series ‘Daredevil’

by Ashley Judilla

Matt Murdock, played by Charlie Cox, is a superhero that tries to protect his neigh- borhood, Hell’s Kitchen, in New York City. Saving an old man from being exposed to a radio- active substance that fell off a truck, nine-year-old Murdock is exposed to the substance, be- coming blind, but gaining super- human senses. He later becomes an attorney alongside his best friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson, played by Elden Henson, who doesn’t know about his second identity.

They also hire and befriend Karen Page, played by Deborah Ann Woll, a woman who found money illegally transferring to the company she worked for, and later framed for the murder of a colleague. Thanks to Nelson and Murdock, she wasn’t convicted.

When first hearing about the attorney-by-day-vigilan- te-at-night TV show, I knew there would be a few similarities between “Daredevil” and “Ar- row”. Although their leads share similar internal and external conflicts, for example, to kill or not to kill, the show’s elements definitely differ. Aside from the different amount of blood and gore, “Daredevil’s” fighting scenes are definitely more inter- esting.

We see Murdock trying to catch his breath in between a single shot fight scene. He near- ly loses his balance tired, with

cuts and a black eye but throws punches anyway. Murdock leans against a wall, then two guys come at him from both the front and back. Managing to break free, he knocks them down. The audience thinks that the scene is finally over, but Murdock opens a door at the end of the hallway, saving a kidnapped child used as bait to lure in the masked man (Daredevil) that has interfered with the Russian mafia’s “goods” (people for human trafficking). Carrying the child in his arms, he walks over beaten bodies and a broken door. The scene ends.

The show is connected with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a.k.a MCU, and is the first of four Marvel-Netflix series: “Iron Fist,” “A.K.A Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage”.

He may not have a “magic hammer” or be a “billionaire in a tin suit,” but he’s a human pushing his limits. He doesn’t have Captain America’s healing or Iron Man’s resources. He’s an attorney trying to make a living while trying to save the living.

Compared to “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” and “Agent Car- ter,” this show feels more out of place in the MCU. A few subtle hints in the background such as “The Battle of New York” on a front page of a newspaper came to view. Sometimes characters refer to Iron Man and Thor.

Marvel superheroes tend to be larger than life. Instead of fighting aliens, Daredevil is fighting street crime.

The TV-MA rating had Mar- vel fans excited and non-fans in- terested as no DC or Marvel TV series has yet to have that kind of rating. Violence was expect- ed. The profanity wasn’t heavy. The blood and gore on the other hand, was quite a sight. At one point, a character is beheaded. We may not get the full pic- ture, but we definitely know the method was excruciating.

The main antagonist is Wil- son “Kingpin” Fisk (played by Vincent D’Onoforio), a brutal crime lord trying to transform the neighborhood he was born and raised in: Hell’s Kitchen. Daredevil may not always abide the laws when fighting crime, but Fisk is organizing crime. Manipulative and vicious, Fisk’s many connections, such as the police department makes him seem unstoppable.

I sometimes feel conflicted with Fisk. His methods of kill- ing are inhumane and so are his ways of helping the city. However, he is not beyond hu- man. We even get a love story between him and Vanessa Mari- anna (played by Ayelet Zurer). A somewhat disturbing, but loving relationship blossoms between the two. Fisk, like Murdock, is grey. He isn’t completely evil, but a scarred human. The two characters share a blurred line of right and wrong. Both wanting to help Hell’s Kitchen, the two are in each other’s ways in trying to protect it.

The show isn’t perfect. Some characters lacked character de- velopment. A woman that fixes Murdock’s wounds, Claire Tem- ple (played by Rosario Dawson) appears in a few episodes. Start- ing out, the audience would sus- pect she plays an important role in the show because she reveals that she’s taken notice of his work in the city and wanted to help. I didn’t think she would be the Felicity Smoakes to his Oli- ver Queen, but the little appear- ances made her significance [or lack-of] as anti-climatic. Foggy had a few bad jokes, but they weren’t bad enough for me to skip his scenes.

For a first season, “Daredev- il” deserves praise. The change in direction for Marvel is cer- tainly something to watch out for. Netflix and Marvel decided to renew the show for a sec- ond season eleven days after the show premiered. Will Fisk make a comeback? Will there be new villains? How much will the planned Marvel mov- ies impact the second season? We will just have to wait until 2016.

 

Kimmy Schmidt is remarkably solid

by Aurora Olivia

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”, a Netflix original se- ries, begins with four women in dated clothing, one of them being Kimmy Schmidt, singing around a christmas tree about the apocalypse they caused with “their dumbness.” Mid-song, the lights begin to flicker and loud banging noise come from their one metal door. Swat members come busting in as they yell “We found them, we found them!” We soon learn these women have

been taken without full consent to a preacher’s underground bunker to save their souls from the rapture (the second com- ing of Jesus). Kimmy and her friends had been in the under- ground bunker for fifteen years before being rescued.

When rescued, the show breaks into a song sung by an African American male who’s lived near by the bunker, giving his opinion on how strong the women are, which later turns

into the shows theme song.
In the first few episodes, we see the media calling them “mole women.” Kimmy, hating the term, desperately tries to avoid her past and buys a bus ticket to New York instead of traveling back to her hometown of Durns- ville, Indiana. This is where the show takes off strongly.
 

On her first day in New York, Kimmy finds a place to live with a portly African American man named Titus Abdomadun who has dreams of making big on Broadway. Their landlord, Lil- lian Kaushtupper, is an eccen- tric older woman who hounds Kimmy on finding a job before becoming a tenant. Quick- ly, Kimmy finds a job being a housekeeper to a wealthy wom- an named Jacqueline Voheers, played by Jane Krakowski, con- stantly tries to hide her Native American ancestry from every- one including herself.

Unfortunately, this show is not about how Kimmy magically puts her life right back in place in an instant. Instead, it is a show about how Kimmy and her friends find out who they really are by going through the strug- gles of their everyday life is por- trayed. We see each character survive and cope with difficult circumstances in their life. For example, Titus has a dream to be a big shot in the acting busi- ness, but because he’s African American, gay, and not wealthy, many producers shut him out. Of course that doesn’t stop him from making the best music vid- eo out there to his original song “Pinot Noir.” Jacqueline Voo- heers, a stay at home wife and step mother, goes through a nas- ty divorce with her husband af- ter he has an affair. She tries to find different ways she can pick herself up from this tragedy, but finds out the only way she can figure herself out is if she goes back home to her Native Ameri-

can roots. And Lillian, learns not to judge so quickly as a result of a road trip with her unlikely friend, Jacqueline.

Critics of the show agree that it has strong potential and is funny, but topics regarding to the mole women are quite strong. When fighting in a court case against the false preacher, we learn many dirty secrets. There is a brief moment where we learn the women were vic- tims of sexual assault by the preacher. The show itself doesn’t dwell on that fact but it does in- crease tension between how the audience feels about the preach- er. Of course, many people were offended by the false Christian preacher and the way his char- acter was played. He was very manipulative, but his good looks seemed to distract from his bad actions.

Overall, the show pulled on my heart strings as well as made me laugh. The cast did a terrif- ic job portraying different cop- ing mechanisms to different life situations. Writer and producer Tina Fey, brings light to topics typically overseen to tension and uncomfortability. Netflix has agreed to renew “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” I look forward to seeing where season two takes Kimmy.

Our favorite gang of misfits assembles once again, an Avengers: Age of Ultron review

by Daniel Fielding

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“Avengers: Age of Ultron” was one of the most anticipated films of 2015, right up there with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, and now that it has arrived I can fi- nally breathe knowing that di- rector Joss Whedon did a good job, not spectacular, but good.

I’d like to start off saying it’s unfair to compare it to the first “Avengers” because the first one was a major event, something that had never been seen before. Of course, if you’re a Marvel fanboy, the ecstatic feeling that came with that first event is still felt in Age of Ultron, but it’s a different type of ecstasy. I would go as far as to say it’s something a bit more profound. The feeling has transformed into the ac- knowledgement that Marvel is attempting something really big here, perhaps over-ambitiously, and we’re all hungry to see what happens..

The first moments of this film are amazing.The movie kicks off with the old squad (Hulk, Black Widow, Cap, Iron Man, Hawk- eye, and Thor) in the midst of a raid on Dr. Strucker’s “Hydra” base, aiming to retrieve Loki’s sceptre (which for those who forgot, is really important and really powerful, I’m talking like infinity stone powerful). It is a fantastic opening sequence. “Hy- dra” thugs are getting whooped left and right, as the camera rapidly switches from one he- ro’s perspective to another. It’s almost like an action roll call of the whole team, and man does it feel good to see the team again, working together for a common goal with jokes galore and those “comic-bookie scenes” Marvel does so well all over the place.

This introduction scene is why we love Marvel movies so much. It’s that perfect mix of fast- paced, extraordinary action and a fun atmosphere that really resonates with us, and I’m hap- py to say its consistent through- out the movie.

Remember how in the first Avengers movie, Hawkeye didn’t get much love? Neither did Hulk, and neither did Black Widow? Well you can be assured they get more than enough attention in this movie. In fact, after seeing Age of Ultron, Hawkeye is now my new favorite character. They did such a good job with his sto- ry this time around.

Our new characters, Quick- silver and Scarlet Witch, were very interesting and held their own against the old guard. Scar- let Witch plays a very integral role to the movie, and from what I can see, is probably going to be a pretty big part of the team as the cinematic universe contin- ues.

Our main villain this time around is Ultron, a creation by Tony Stark intended to protect the world, but instead Ultron is a monster who ends up want- ing to exterminate humankind. Ultron was one of my favorite performances of this movie. Ac- tor James Spader is the perfect fit for this character, his voice is both chilling and charismat- ic. Ultron wasn’t really a terri- fying villain, but an unnerving villain. He’s a robot with human personalities like insecurity, vanity, and superiority, which make him unpredictable, psy- chotic and overall very uncanny. I loved him as a villain.

Another interesting perfor- mance was Vision, an android

created by Ultron who ends up being a nice guy. Vision is super cool. He’s like this weird purple half muscle tissue half robot dude, who is composed of two essential elements. I don’t want to give that away though, I’ll let you all figure that out.

Now, lets to get to some of the reasons of why this movie isn’t perfect.

Joss Whedon has gone on re- cord saying that up to an hour’s worth of content was cut from the final film, and you definite- ly feel it watching this movie. This movie gets kind of choppy, it gets confusing, things barely slide into place, and because of this a lot of relationships and plot development seems forced or out of place. Thor’s spiritu- al journey mid-movie is kind of like a side-trailer for his future “Thor: Ragnarok” film, and the whole African coast segment was context for the future “Black Panther” film.

However, one of the most con- troversial relationships is the Hulk and Black Widow fling. Basically it needed more devel- opment, it needed to feel more natural, and after the feeling was established, it needed to lay off it a little. Personally, I’m okay with the relationship, the pairing makes perfect sense, both heroes are kind of isolated, and Black widow is the only one who can calm down Hulk when he’s in a rage.

Also, all this Black Widow feminism stuff is way too over- blown. The relationship does not turn Black Widow into some Disney princess or anything. She still retains her image of an ice cold assassin, now she’s just a little less one dimensional.

At the end of the day, Mar- vel is attempting something ex- tremely large and it’s proving to be kind of difficult. Joss Whedon tried his best with this film but you could tell he struggled with pacing and making sure every character got his fair share of time. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has about eight super powered beings on screen and maybe four regular old human agents, and again you can feel how com- pact it is. The worry here is, how Marvel is going to handle mov- ies like “Captain America: Civ- il War”, and the “Infinity War” series, movies that are slated to have fifteen or more super beings on fighting it out, each with their own storylines. How are they going to fit that into the two hour time frame that seems to be some unspoken law of mov- ie making nowadays?

How about screw it? Screw the time frame. Make a four hour movie, I guarantee people will sit through it. “Lawrence of Arabia” got away with it, and

that’s considered a cinema clas- sic. Why can’t Marvel do it? The short attention span of the new generation is not a valid argu- ment anymore. What are people doing when they “binge watch” a TV series? It’s essentially the same as watching a really long movie. As far as I’m concerned, if a movie needs more time, give it more time.

All of this aside, Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a super fun movie and a nice addi- tion to the cinematic universe. It is also a preview of what the fu- ture grand scale Marvel movies are probably going to feel like.

“Avengers: Age of Ul- tron” was released May 1st,

2015.

8.5/10 (The .5 is because I’m a little kid that loves explo- sions and superheroes.)