Tag Archives: Paul Bettany

The Young Victoria

It’s very easy to forget that the monarchy is made up with real, living, breathing people. Extremely privileged people of course, who are often very out of touch with the real world and therefore the people they are meant to represent as well. But people nonetheless. Victoria (Emily Blunt) reminds us that even palaces can be prisons.

By the age of 11 she is made aware of her precarious and burdensome lot in love; the only living heir to King William IV’s throne. Victoria’s teenage years are dominated by her possessive mother, the Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson) and the Duchess’ consort, John Conroy (Mark Strong), who imposes all kinds of rules on Victoria. Despite the pressure, Victoria refuses to allow them the power to act as her regent, and she finally takes the crown at the age of 18.

In fact, this only means that even more people seek to control and influence her, including her cousin Albert (Rupert Friend), with whom it is hoped she will fall in love for political reasons. Having only just left the clutches of her mother, she isn’t quick to attach herself to someone else, but instead falls under the influnce of Prime Minister Melbourne (Paul Bettany), whom she trusts implicitly, even to the point of constitutional crisis.

Emily Blunt does a masterful job of portraying the young queen – her confidence, her missteps, her optimism, her suspicion, her inexperience and her willingness. Most 18 year olds aren’t ready for such weighty responsibilities but when your birth decrees it, there is nothing to do but step up. She is the sun around which so many orbit, on whom so many depend. A power struggle is inevitable.

The Young Victoria is romantic but lumbering, never quite hitting the right balance of tension and story. There’s a lot of wistfully reading letters aloud while sitting on various tufted couches. But if you’re looking for a Victorian drama, there are plenty of petticoats around, the scenery is terribly opulent. Blunt and Friend have a sizzling chemistry and you almost wish the movie had started rather than ended there.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron is great! Not Oscar-great but blockbuster-great. No need to think or feel creeped out about A.I. like in Ex Machina, just enjoy the ride with moody Ultron as he carries out his plan to kill all humans. But fear not! ¬†Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are on the case.

One of the things Age of Ultron does best is give us lots of new characters. That fits well with the revolving door that is the Avengers comic book roster. So we are introduced/reintroduced to many characters we know are, or will become, Avengers, like War Machine, Falcon, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and in unfortunate licencing loophole, Quicksilver. Jay found that super confusing having already seen a different Quicksilver, without an accent, in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and I agree. It shouldn’t have happened and it takes away from the movie. Still better to have him here, I think, because Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are great together (this movie captured their relationship well) but it’s time for a deal with Fox. At least Marvel got Spider-Man back from Sony, but let’s get the rest of these movies working together too.

Seeing Vision pop up was an unexpected surprise for me. I liked that he made an appearance and thought he was used well, both as a source of conflict between the Avengers and then as a contrast to Ultron, though they share the same view on humanity’s likely future (i.e., not promising). Really, all the new characters were handled well and I feel like we are well on our way to the Infinity Gauntlet saga.

The disappointing thing is there are now four or five other Marvel movies on the way between now and Avengers 3. I’m excited for Captain America 3, especially with Spidey on board, but beyond that, it’s way too much. Especially when I use Vision’s introduction as a comparison; Ant-Man, Black Panther, and Dr. Strange could all be brought in as part of an Avengers movie, and I wish that’s what was being done. But since there’s money on the table we get separate movies for each. Let’s be honest, I will probably see all those, so you can expect to hear this same complaint every few months between now and the next Avengers movie.

I can’t hold that against this movie though. Avengers: Age of Ultron itself does things exactly right. I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn’t have changed a thing so it gets ten Infinity Gems out of ten.