Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hensworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Bettany
The advance word on this new installment to the Marvel U has been mixed. Overall the reviews have been favorable but not quiet as positive as the first film. I even found myself worried that Whedon had just gotten himself overwhelmed with this project. Even the master can fail on occasion. After sitting through Age of Ultron I was able to not only breathe a sigh of relief I was excited for a second viewing.
Avengers Age of Ultron is not a perfect movie, there are plot flaws and some of them due to the serialized nature of the film. These flaws were prevelant in the last film too. The difference is that this film fixes so many other issues that weighed heavy on the last movie. First and foremost Whedon balanced out the character development of our heroes. Cap, Thor, and Iron Man all have their own movie franchises to build out their characters but Hawkeye, Black Widow, and the Hulk only get character development in the Avengers films. Sure Black Widow was in Cap 2 but that was a road picture that didn’t build on her character much. So in Age of Ultron we get some character depth for these three heroes and it works. Suddenly Hawkeye matters more in the Marvel U than he previously did.
Another problem that has plagued the Marvel U is the lack of personality of the villains. Christopher Nolan may have missed the mark in various places with the final Batman film but he did demonstrate with the second film just how to craft a compelling villain in the Joker. Well in Age of Ultron we get a maniacal robot that has developed artificial intelligence and he’s riveting. James Spader and Whedon create a scary villain with tons of personality that is dark enough to be scary yet not so dark that kids get turned off. He’s scary, he’s funny, and he’s fascinating. Age of Ultron strikes that perfect family film/comic book movie/action movie balance that is a true crowd pleaser. There’s something for everyone in this movie.
It’s funny, so many folks have said to me that there’s no jeopardy for these characters because we know they have multi-picture deals and that the sequels have already been announced. Sometimes it’s not about a surprise ending, sometimes it’s about the journey to that ending. With that said this film still sets up a ridiculously exciting, and yes surprising ending that has me anticipating the next Avengers installment. These characters don’t get the ending you think they are going to get. I don’t care that you know there are two more Avengers movies coming. True hardcore Avengers comic book fans are going to recognize the ending when it happens and be over the moon while non comic book readers are going to be shocked but most likely also excited for the next film. The serialized elements of this film do require that you have at least seen the previous Avengers film and even better if you’ve seen all of the movies. Marvel does need to understand that it’s OK to do a “one shot”. In comics a one shot is a single story that does not have a cliffhanger ending and it usually has no real impact on a greater story. Regular movie fans eventually are going to feel too crushed by the serialized nature of these films. You will start to hear people say “ I’m not gonna see this new Marvel movie cuz I won’t know what’s going on cuz I didn’t see the other three movies”. For folks who have stuck with it though, things in this movie are going to be mind blowing. We start to see all of the parts begin to come together.
Some argued in the first film that the generic aliens that the majority of the team had to fight were just that, generic. In Age of Ultron that all gets fixed because Ultron is able to replicate himself in a way that truly makes sense in the story. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of him over and over again. So each hero must face Ultron over and over again. The action is mostly beautifully shot and fast paced. We don’t get any of the shaky cam to close up fight scenes that plagued the majority of the Batman films.
Joss Whedon’s signature humorous character interactions are in full effect in Age of Ultron with many laugh out loud moments in this two and a half hour movie. The chemistry between these characters is palpable and infectious. Everyone is truly having a great time. We finally actually see Paul Bettany in this film and his new role is truly exciting. The rendition of Scarlet Witch was something that bothered me as a fan of the character from the comics. Now after seeing the film this isn’t “my Scarlet Witch” but she works in this film and in the cinematic universe in general.
The serialized nature of the film is a heavy weight for any film in the Marvel U to carry but Whedon manages to make it work for most of Avengers Age of Ultron and the film ends up being a massive roller coaster ride that still features solid character development and melodrama that works. I can’t wait to get to the theater to see Age of Ultron again! By the way, the 3D is a waste of time. See the film in a nice digital theater.