‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Movie Review – Guarding Familiar Territory
Even though Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron is set to break some box-office records, it’s doing so in a different way than its predecessor, 2012’s The Avengers. Rather than relying on its groundbreaking nature (there truly hadn’t been a film universe until the Marvel Cinematic Universe), it relied on its past films and their success. Whedon, I’d argue, relies just a little too heavily on past films (and past themes), making Age of Ultron a notable step below the top tier of MCU films. With that being said, there’s still all the things we love about the Avengers in another installment. This will surely be enough to continue to get millions of people into theaters around the world.
Avengers: Age of Ultron reminds us right away why we all love the Avengers. When they are working together, it’s a scene unlike anything we’ve witnessed (or really imagined). The superheroes all bring their own skills and personalities to screen in an entertaining fashion. You’ve got some sci-fi action with Iron-Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) careening through the air. You’ve got grade-A martial arts with Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). And, if that’s not your thing, you can watch The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) destroy literally everything in his path with brute force.
It’s truly amazing.
However, it also sets the stage for the rest of the film because there are parts of this film that seem like pure action porn. For a good portion of the movie, Whedon and company seem to think that’s all we, as an audience, want.
As for plot, they try to introduce one of the key villains in comic book lore, Ultron (voiced by James Spader), but I’m not sure if they were afraid of exposition or just plain lazy. Ultron’s motives are explained in an eerie scene right in the midst of an Avengers party (which, by the way, is the funniest scene in the film). Spader’s creepy voiceover coupled with Whedon’s great monologue makes for an awesome Ultron introduction. But, when you step back and actually think about it, it doesn’t seem to make sense.
This has to be my biggest problem with the film. I can get over the fact that it’s not grounded in reality – something I’ve always preferred in the Dark Knight films compared to the MCU. I can get over the fact that the movie is, once again, chalk-full of cheesy one-liners. I can even get over the fact that they again explore the theme of having to work together.
However, I can’t get over the disappointment I felt with Ultron. It’s not because he wasn’t a powerful villain or anything like that. Instead, I felt like the character and his intentions weren’t fleshed out enough. It almost felt like a shortcut to show us glowing auroras and throwing in some sci-fi words to help explain why Ultron was going to destroy mankind. Then, it isn’t made abundantly clear just how they can destroy him.
I do want to shift back to what worked with the film, though. I’ve mentioned a few times now that the movie felt like an extension of the first Avengers film. Going into the movie, I was very apprehensive of this. My stress was alleviated the moment I laid eyes on the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). While her brother, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), is also a great addition, you can tell from the onset that she’s going to make a difference in the movie.
By the end, the Avengers and the Marvel Cinematic Universe are left sort of in limbo. If this film’s main purpose is to ease the audience about the future of the Avengers, I think the Scarlet Witch is a good first step.
Marvel could’ve churned out just about any movie with the core of the Avengers starring and people would flock to the theaters. However, they took three years to create a follow-up and to most it did not disappoint. Again, writer/director Joss Whedon included everything audiences drooled over in the initial installment. There’s great action/effects, troubled characters, witty banter, and did I say action? To some, however, I could definitely see a bit of a letdown. Ultron, while entertaining, doesn’t quite reach the level of other villains…even if some of his lines seemed straight from some of our favorite bad guys.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is in theaters now. Chime in with your thoughts below.
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