30 Apr 2015

At The Movies: Avengers Age Of Ultron, Testament of Youth, Leviathan

From At The Movies, 7:30 pm on 30 April 2015

Avengers Age of Ultron screenshot Hulk
Avengers: Age Of Ultron screen shot.

Simon Morris welcomes the blockbuster season - or at least big films.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron tackles trendy Artificial Intelligence…
Testament of Youth is a film version of a famous First World War memoir…
and the award-winning Leviathan takes a critical look at Putin's Russia.

The Big Picture with Simon Morris.

While it’s enjoyable to see a small movie that focuses on character in a specific place, sometimes you’re in the mood for something bigger.

And when a film-maker has millions of bucks at his or her disposal, it must be extremely tempting to tackle Big Subjects – war, politics, the end-game of all this scary technology…

But of course, those millions come from somebody else’s pocket – studio bosses who are far more interested in making more money than just spending what they have on Big Subjects. So – generally – you have to disguise your lofty ambitions, or at least make them palatable to a big audience. Like the punters who made such a big hit out of the first movie featuring Marvel Comics’ Avengers. The follow-up – Age of Ultron - is far more about making something good and big than a warning wag of the finger at the dangers of hi-tech.

Similarly, Harry Potter producer David Heyman had another reason to make yet another anti-war film. Vera Brittain’s book Testament of Youth is one of the most famous accounts ever of the First World War from a woman’s perspective. Though it does make you wonder why it hasn’t already been turned into a movie…

When it comes to big issues though, one country towers above us all. Russia has been ruled over the centuries by more crooks, psychopaths and out-and-out villains than any other. No wonder the latest critique was called Leviathan.

But just because a film’s about a Big Subject doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a big movie. 

Film-makers are story-tellers. They’re not usually philosophers. And they tend to trip up when they forget that.