Avengers: Age of Ultron Review
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, and Mark Ruffalo
Original Release Date: May 1st 2015
After three years the sequel to the most successful superhero movie of all time has finally dawned upon us. I know I said I’d review this after I watched everything that the MCU has to offer, but I fell behind and I am most certainly not missing Age of Ultron for anything. I’ll have a review up for the first season of Agents of SHIELD very soon, but in the meantime lets talk about the Avengers, because lets face it we care about that more.
Age of Ultron does not wait to get the action going. The movie starts right as the Avengers lay siege to a secret Hydra base, it’s there that Tony Stark discovers that Hydra has been conducting experiments with Chitauri technology, and more importantly the staff given to Loki by the mad titan Thanos. Using the alien technology within the staff Stark decides to finish the Ultron Project, a means to put a “suit of armour” around the world when the Avengers cannot defend it. Unfortunately for Stark the powerful A.I becomes self aware and declares that Humans are the true danger to the planet and that the only way to save the world is for the extinction of the Human race.
Just like the first film where this movie stays strong is when our characters interact outside of combat. Joss Whedon loves his banter, and Age of Ultron certainly shows it. Just seeing these characters interact is a comic book geeks dream come true, and while the novelty of the Avengers teaming up has died off that doesn’t mean we can’t get some great scenes with our favourite heroes. It seems like Whedon has thrown his skill with banter up to an 11 because every single scene holds something special, each interaction is a stand out point amongst itself and any viewer can find something new to pick up on with the rapid pace dialogue.
The action set pieces in this movie are even more spectacular than the first film. Age of Ultron has more action than the first and every time our Avengers suit up insanity will ensue. Every action scene is filled with multiple things at once, and Whedon really wants us to see our Avengers in action, now the crazed insanity of all the fight scenes are a little hard on the eyes and I might sound like a cranky old man but there is just so much on screen sometimes, but that’s my only complaint with the action, it’s all spectacular.
It seems that Whedon heard the pleas of many fans after the first film because many characters who don’t have their own franchises are given so much room to breath, especially Hawkeye. Jeremy Renner didn’t get much to do in the first movie, for most of the run time he was a lapdog of Loki. In Age of Ultron Whedon has made sure that Hawkeye is the standout Avenger amongst the original cast (more on the new players soon). Whedon has really encapsulated Clint’s dry sense of humour and probably the funniest moment in the entire movie is given to the character during the films climax. Black Widow and the Hulk are also given a lot to do in this movie but their side plot is one of the many problems this movie has.
Our new Avengers are Quick Silver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). Now I won’t talk about Vision because his character is best experienced fresh with no knowledge at all of his inclusion, but know this. Vision is one of the best parts of the entire movie and I cannot wait to see where they go with his character.
Many fans (myself included) were worried about how Marvel would translate Quicksilver on the big screen. Fox has already portrayed the character to utter perfection in last summers Days of Future Past. Now Aaron Taylor-Johnson does do a commendable job with the character but I have to say Evan Peters is still the better Quicksilver, and with that kitchen scene in Days of Future Past Age of Ultron couldn’t even hope to best it. Marvel does do a pretty good job at explaining how Quicksilver and his sister are not Mutants but at the end of the day I don’t think this iteration of the character will resonate with anyone.
Now the best, and I really mean the best character in this movie is Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch. I’ve been a very big fan of the youngest Olsen for a while now, it seems that within the last few years she’s finally making her mark on big budget films and Age of Ultron has assured us that we are going to see a lot of her in the future. Scarlet Witch’s powers are complicated to say the least, the reality warping Mutant has been depowered quite a bit for this film, but she is still a force to reckon with. Scarlet Witch alone is a bigger threat to the Avengers than Ultron himself, and for the first two acts of the film both Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are lackies to the insane A.I. With all that’s going on in the movie telling the origin story of two new characters seemed like quite a feat, but Whedon somehow manages in one scene to make both characters motivations seem realistic. I could watch Scarlet Witch use her abilities all day, the way she moves her hands is an intricate dance that’s hypnotising, I’m very happy that she’s now on the team.
His name is in the title and I have been waiting to see James Spader’s menacing Ultron face the Avengers, unfortunately he’s the weakest part of the entire film. It really kills me to say this because every trailer made Ultron out to be the power threat and villain that the MCU desperately needed. Spader’s voice is a perfect fit to the character, its smooth and charming yet menacing and creepy, just what the character needs. However we never get to feel that Ultron is a threat at all to the Avengers, I even think Aldrich Killian could dismantle the A.I’s many bodies with ease.
If you’ve seen any of the trailers you’re going to have to throw any preconceived notions out of your head because Age of Ultron and the character himself are nothing that has been advertised. Ultron is a joking clown, and since Tony Stark has put his personality in the A.I it makes sense, but two Tony Starks are far too many. I really think Kevin Feige needs to take a step back because Age of Ultron suffers from the same issues that Thor the Dark World had. The cutting room floor took away all of the character development that could have made a very interesting villain. We are given no reason to believe in Ultron’s motivations nor why he even hates Humans. He is created, goes insane almost instantly, fights the Avengers and then appears in his full form in a castle. It’s jarring to say the least and is a big shame because this character was what these movies needed.
Now this movie is far from perfect and it’s because Joss Whedon had to cut an hour out of the movie, yes you read that right. Age of Ultron was originally 3.5 hours long, I think that people would honestly sit through a over 3 hour Marvel film at this point. The movie never really feels like it starts, it feels like you’re in the middle of the movie. Plot points seem to already be developed and underway with no buildup at all. How do the Avengers know that Baron Strucker has Loki’s scepter? Why is Tony Stark Iron man again? And more importantly, where did the Ultron project come from? It seems that Stark had already been working on the project before the movie started, but as an audience we don’t know that. This isn’t a comic book it’s a movie and the two are very different mediums. Audiences sort of need to have these things figured out for them. Did Hank Pym originally start the Ultron Project but scrapped it?Or is it just a continuation of what Stark was doing in Iron man 3 (which seems more pointless than ever now).
There are also far to many random plot lines that only serve to lead up to future films. I thought after Iron man 2 Marvel had learned their lesson. Age of Ultron feels like a buildup for Civil War and Infinity War Part I and II. Doing this just makes Age of Ultron feel sort of pointless, we need to feel that Ultrons plan is a terrifying world ending calamity; knowing that Thanos is out there plotting to use the Infinity Stones for his own means makes everything in this movie feel insignificant.
The Black Widow Hulk relationship also falls flat. Now, I’m not one to hate in any relationships in superhero movies, they just need to work. This relationship feels so out of left field, there is no buildup to it at all and as far as I’m concerned this was never even hinted at in the first Avengers film. What about Betty, Bruce? Seems like Marvel is just continuing to ignore the Incredible Hulk’s existence (probably because it’s a Universal film). I also thought it was very strange that Bruce needs Natasha to calm himself down when he was the Hulk. I thought that after the first Avengers it was established that he could control it. It’s not like Joss to ignore/write over continuity, so I’m really curious why he did that.
The score by Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman also falls flat. It feels very generic and forgettable and I cannot remember a single track from the film that was memorable. I even went back and listened to the soundtrack on it’s own and even Elfman’s work is very forgettable, which is a true shame because I know the two are very good composers. Tracks just all sound the same and don’t mesh well. I really miss Silvestri’s score, at least some of his themes are used and they’re the only stand out pieces in the music.
I also personally found the effects to be off as well. The cg looks, well, cg. You can tell that the Hulk and Ultron are not there, they feel disconnected from the rest of the sets and look very fake. For a film series that primarily relies on big cg effects you’d think that they would have put more work into the final print. The cg in the Incredible Hulk is more impressive than what’s on display here.
I know that Marvel is now known for its comedic aspects, but this movie could have used less comedy. Now before you go and call me a cynic let me reiterate something I said in my Iron man 3 review. Comedy is fine, but when it doesn’t serve the story it shouldn’t be there. Almost every line is a one liner from a character, now I don’t want all my movies to be dark and brooding like the Dark Knight but when the stakes are as high as in this I sort of want the situation to feel dire and you just don’t get that with this movie. The first Iron man and the Winter Soldier had the perfect balance in my opinion of humor and action, I just wish this movie followed their amazing example.
Age of Ultron is like a beautiful car crash, it’s filled with great moments but there are so many issues with the plot. I think that everything that was cut could have served the film, instead the movie feels sort of jumbled and makes many of the issues in almost every category apparent. Is it better than the first Avengers? No, but it is still a fun film to watch even with it’s issues. I would still tell people to go see this movie because there is still some fun to be had. I just feel there were too many missed opportunities in what could have been an excellent film. A movie is only as good as it’s villain and when all of the promotional material is focused on Ultron you really wish there was more to be had once you walk out of the theatre.
Age of Ultron feels like filler, nothing mattered in this movie because we are always reminded that Thanos is out there trying to obtain the Infinity Stones. I thought this movie was supposed to be its own self contained story? Looks like it isn’t and Marvel really put themselves in a corner in the end.
I give the movie a 7/10
I am looking forward for the deleted scenes that have been confirmed to be on the bluray when it hits shelves. I just hope we don’t have an Amazing Spider-man situation on our hands here because it’s really looking like history is repeating itself.