There are many nerdtastic movies to look forward to this year—Jurassic World, Spectre, Mockingjay – Part 2. Oh, and some little film called Star Wars or something…? 😉 But the big kick-off for 2015’s nerdy movie line-up was undoubtedly the much anticipated sequel to Avengers. I, being the good little geek I am, was all about the Thursday night premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron last week. And I may have gone to see it again on Sunday, too. Like, maybe. But ultimately I knew I was going to have an important question to answer: Is Age of Ultron a worthy follow-up not only to the first Avengers, but to all of Marvel’s post-Avengers films?
For me, the answer to that question is definitely more “yes” than “no,” but I do say that with the tiniest hint of disappointment. Don’t get me wrong—Age of Ultron is a great film. I wouldn’t have seen it twice if that weren’t the case. But my feelings toward it are almost identical to my feelings toward The Dark Knight Rises (Sidenote: Did you catch my Top 20 Superhero Movies earlier this week? See that here and here). That is, Age of Ultron is awesome for many reasons, but it doesn’t pack the same punch as its predecessor (or predecessors, if we’re also talking about the likes of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy). But enough rambling—let’s discuss the deets.
Synopsis: “When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it’s up to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb
The Good: Well, you certainly can’t say that Joss Whedon lacks style—and I don’t just say that because of the spectacular visuals and epic fights (of which there are many). Age of Ultron is filled to the brim with all the witty banter and hilarious quips that we not only want but have come to expect from writer/director Whedon. Of course, all of the cast members have such delightful chemistry that they make his job look easy. You can tell they have fun with each other and are comfortable in their roles—especially the veterans. After all, most of these actors have been playing their characters for three or more movies now. However, one of this film’s greatest achievements was to give attention to a character that was largely ignored in his two previous films. I’m talking about Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye (whom you should really watch in this video, if you haven’t already). Hawkeye gets a whooooole thing in this movie, and it’s really wonderful. It adds so much to his character. But I don’t want to spoil that too much, so let’s talk about something else wonderful: the newbies! Age of Ultron introduces several new players, and I was pretty impressed with all of them. Titular baddie Ultron (James Spader) is a wickedly fun and interesting robot/AI made that much more fun and interesting via his mostly human voice and very human dialogue. The mysterious Vision (Paul Bettany) is an incredibly cool (and incredibly powerful) creation that I think will be a key character in the films to come. The Maximoff twins, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), are a visually awesome pair with a staggering amount of character development packed into one sad childhood story. Oh! And we get to briefly see the ever-awesome Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, who will be a main nemesis to Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther further down the line. All in all, this is an excellent cast in a fun, exciting story.
Favorite Scene: Newcomer Vision is able to do something that shocks the Avengers into an awkward silence. The looks on their faces are priceless.
The Bad: I feel like this film needed a push in one of two directions. Whedon and co. should have either shaved off some of the less vital moments, or they should have just gone for it and included more, even if that meant dancing with that three-hour mark. Because as it is, Age of Ultron seems overstuffed. Don’t get me wrong—Whedon juggles the many characters and story threads much better than most directors would, but certain aspects of the film are still spread thin, leaving something to be desired by the end of it. Also, as much as I love Whedon’s humor, I couldn’t help feeling that some of it seemed more forced than it did in the first Avengers, as if he were trying so hard not only to equal but to outdo the laughs in his previous film. I’m thinking in particular about a running joke regarding Captain America’s (Chris Evans) lack of tolerance for bad language. It’s funny at first, maybe, but then it’s dragged on to the point that it seems more forced than genuine. Also, there’s a fair bit of controversy surrounding Whedon’s treatment of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) in this movie. I don’t really want to trudge into that, but I will say this: I didn’t hate the choices Whedon made for her, but I didn’t feel like they were entirely consistent with the character either, and that bugged me. If you’d like to discuss this further, please meet me in the comments below. Lol. My only other qualm with this film is that it doesn’t seem to regard some the major events of the Phase 2 films—especially Iron Man 3, which ended with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) seemingly out of the game. I realize it’s a little unfair to ask for consistency from an already massive and ever-growing cinematic universe…but it’d still be nice. 🙂
Least Favorite Scene: There’s a very random plotline in which Thor (Chris Hemsworth) searches for answers to something and somehow winds up shirtless in a magical cave without us understanding exactly why. While the shirtlessness is much appreciated, his little side mission could use a better explanation.
To Sum It Up: Despite its flaws, Avengers: Age of Ultron is still a worthy addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a solid follow-up to The Avengers. Perhaps it isn’t quite as fresh as the likes of last year’s Marvel offerings, but it’s still every bit as action-packed and entertaining as you’d expect. Plus, it teases some pretty exciting things for the future. Bring it on, Infinity Wars. 😀
My Grade: A-
Before I sign off and get to weekending, I wanted to reiterate for any of you who missed this post yesterday: I’m going to be switching things up starting next week. I’ll still put something up every day, but a majority of my posts will be reblogs with only one or two new write-ups per week. It’s not a permanent thing—I’m just going to spend the next few weeks catching up on some stuff and trying to find a better groove on WordPress. But this is something I forgot to say yesterday: Should any of you wish to contribute to Song and Screen, Quotation Quintet, or even Series Spotlight while I’m on my semi-break, feel free to send your write-up(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to shine a light on awesome bloggers through my site. 🙂