This weekend finally saw the release of one of the years most anticipated movies in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s not a secret that this movie is gonna rake in the money and at this point the argument isn’t about whether the movie is good or not, but will it surpass its 2012 predecessor. No need to go any further, lets just jump right in.
Unlike the first movie, the team is already working together and have their hands full when they take on Ultron; a peace initiative designed by Tony Stark turned ruthless A.I. that’s hell-bent on human extinction. Ultron isn’t the only problem as the team has to deal with a pair of super-powered twins who seem to have their own agenda.
The movie begins not unlike how the previous movie ended. The team is doing the “avengers” thing and it’s cool. It’s a good way to get people into the movie by giving them a piece of what made the first one so beloved. It doesn’t take long to move off the tracks a little bit because once all the fighting is over, it seems like we get thrown almost right away into the middle of the story without a proper set-up. It almost made the villain feel forced into the story and that’s not a good thing because it messes with the pacing of the movie (don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt the quality of the movie itself but we’ll get to that later). It doesn’t help that if you blink you kind of miss the entire back story of two of the more important characters in Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) Maximoff. Also, there were some instances that saw plot points from the first movie being rehashed (and is even covertly mentioned by one of the characters) and keeps this movie from distinguishing itself from the former as a more original entity. Besides a couple other small scenes that seemed a bit unnecessary or could have been done better, the movie flows pretty seamlessly.
The biggest strength of the movie is in its character development and the dynamic relationships the heroes share. One of the best scenes in the movie involved the heroes… well… not actually being heroes for once. The interactions between any combination of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rodgers/Captain America (Chris Evans), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) contained either humor, drama, or a mixture of both and were delivered admirably. Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) both share intimate scenes which accomplish the task of providing both exposition of who they are as people and depth to characters who were severely lacking it. Speaking of characters who severely lacked depth, there was definitely a concerted effort to make Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) a more important character and it was done almost flawlessly. I won’t spend much time on him (because it would spoil it a bit) but, his character was a joy in the movie and was a crucial part in more ways than one. Even the cameos (none of which I will spoil) were great and made an impact on the movie outside of just taking up screen time.
If you didn’t think the heroes were the brightest spot of the movie, then it was because Ultron (James Spader) stole the show. Ultron is probably the most polished villain the cinematic universe has put on-screen. He was calculated, ruthless, but not without purpose and Spader was just about as good an actor as you could find to fill this role. While some may have found his mannerisms a bit too humanistic, I would remind them that this is a different story with different core aspects and therefore Ultron’s character reflects that quite a bit. By extension, the inclusion of Vision (Paul Bettany) was almost, if not, just as important and show stealing to me. The stark contrast in the characters and their ideals made for great moments at times in the more tense scenes. He really became one of my favorite characters by the time the whole thing was over.
And What would the movie be without a big action sequence, I mean c’mon, this is still an action movie right? Was it big? Yeah it was! Did it raise the stakes from the first movie? Definitely! It was what everyone was waiting for and did not disappoint. So much of the action was vivid, clean, and looked as if it were ripped right off the pages of a comic book. The tone was refreshingly different and It definitely brought the feeling of desperation among the heroes. Many of times there was a question of what was gonna happen next, because the tension mounted with every passing scene. Every character gets a piece of the action, but unlike the last time the end is a bit different.
Verdict: This movie is everything you want in a blockbuster. It was fun, action packed, and felt like an event. I wish the Maximoff twins had been better utilized. It seemed as though there was a lot left out and considering the fact that the blu-ray will contain an extended version (three hours) and an alternate ending, we’ll see if it was for the best, but a longer run-time actually could have been beneficial. Also, the humor wears on you by the end of the film, but there is no denying that Joss Wheden knows how to handle a large cast of characters. Many had reservations because the cast seemed so large, but this movie handles a large cast better than any movie I have seen. Even with that, Everyone who plays a role in the movie and the cinematic universe at large seem genuinely excited to be apart of what is happening and you can see how comfortable they have all come to be in their roles. As someone who will continue to watch the cinematic universe grow, that is what I am happiest to see. I am ready to see Whedon move on though as I feel we’ve reached the limit of what to expect from his style. The Russo’s were effective in creating a great story for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and I think their direction is one well worth taking.
Avengers: Age of Ultron gets a 4 out of 5
+ Great chemistry among the entire cast
+ Action scenes were second to none
+ The slight change in tone works well throughout and especially in the climax
+ Ultron… nuff said
– Could have been paced better
– Just needed more scenes with the twins (because they were pretty good when they were there)
Avengers: Age of Ultron is in theaters now.
Stephon W. is a contributing Editor for Teh Lunchbox Publications and sorry, he doesn’t do social media. But you can follow the team on facebook (Teh Lunchbox Publications), and on twitter @tehlunchboxpub