Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Film Digest: Spy, Mad Max: Fury Road, Avengers: Age of Ultron


Avengers: Age of Ultron – Sokovia, what’s in the name?

The recent installment in the Avengers franchise has a curious plot. I found it exciting not because of all the action but rather because of the American subconsciousness related to the world of politics emanating from the story.
Ultron, a rebellious artificial intelligence created by Iron Man, is preparing to conquer the world, having chosen a small country of Sokovia as its stronghold.

In the film, you can hear Russian speech in Sokovia. To me, this fictitious country is a symbolic Russia, with its frighteningly mad dictator, Ultron (Sokovia was also a base of the Nazi organisation, Hydra, before him).

If during the Cold War, it was very much the battle – US against USSR as a country, now it’s against the Kremlin but not the Russian people or Sokovians in the film. Yet Ultron is symbolically more related to Taliban and ISIS, that were, according to many politologists, brought to power by the disastrous American intervention in the Middle East. So in a way, Ultron and Sokovia are a combined symbol of Russian and Middle Eastern opponents of the US.

Here’s the interesting thing: Iron Man accepts responsibility for creating Ultron. This guilt of creating a monster is forcing Avengers to protect Sokovia and try to evacuate all the people from there, rather than simply bomb the country to ashes. But can you save Sokovia itself or just open borders and let those out who wishes it? Is this what’s been done in the Middle East, where infrastructures of entire countries like Iraq are in a dire state after the US intervention, not forgetting about hundred thousands of people who were killed during the turmoil? Of course, Avengers as a film didn’t intend to be viewed in this light. It’s a lovely action extravaganza for young people, yet we can’t simply ignore our subconsciousness. Every action has its consequences, even if the intentions are good (like bringing in democracy).

Mad Max: The Fury Road

One may think that it’s yet another remake of a popular movie released decades ago. This remake, at least in terms of artistic design and camera work, is a visual masterpiece. Not much of a talking is happening in this survival story set in a postapocalyptic arid land. Not a cactus is seen anywhere, while a two-headed lizard is beautifully displayed at the start of the film. The paradise is lost, though main characters aren’t aware of it for a while. What do you do when all hope is lost?
The scenes of the road adventures and struggle for survival shaped the characters better than any words. So, I’ll be concise here too. Show, not tell. Mad Max is an apt example of this fundamental rule in writing fiction.


And finally, this weekend’s long-anticipated release, a James Bond spoof movie, Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy and directed by Paul Feig, well exceeded my expectations. The child-like straightforwardness of McCarthy comic characters is what disarms me the most, in them I find kindred souls.  I like the way McCarthy’s quirky character deals with her insecurities, the way she’s fierce and kind, inflammable yet reliable, resourceful yet fragile. In Spy, we see, for the second time since Bridesmaids, we see the acting tandem, Byrne-McCarthy. Rose Byrne’s villainess is delightfully funny in her arrogance and the air of superiority she emanates. The two have such great screen chemistry that they could have easily held the film on their own.

By the beauty of Spy lies in its nicely realised secondary characters: a classical Bond, a stupid macho Bond, a strict CIA chief lady…

And this film is also a Hollywood debut of my favorite British comedian, Miranda Hart, whose childishness and awkwardness makes McCarthy’s character look ‘as sharp as an Elf’s ear’ (a simile from Martin Scott’s Thraxas) in comparison. Humour is the safest medicine, so with Spy I don’t care about an overdose. Make more movies, Melissa!


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