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Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

1 May

avengers-age-of-ultron-trailer-comic-con-2014

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is growing at an unprecedented rate, and as a result, its movies are reaching for the edges of that universe, constantly preoccupied with what’s up next in this ever-expanding story. Avengers: Age of Ultron plays like a hastily put together scrapbook of *cool Avenger moments* and “Oh, yeah, he existed in my life!” snapshots, and as it eagerly points us toward the next several movies, it threatens to collapse under its own dullness.

The set-up conflict for the movie is intriguing enough–Tony Stark versus his own creation, Ultron–but as the two and a half hours plods along, it becomes clear that the creative team is not going to delve too deeply into the conflict’s implications (widespread death is one, I guess). Instead, the movie pushes ahead on the road always taken, delivering hit-or-miss banter and feel-good team moments as it robs itself of any complexity or novelty among its characters. James Spader does a fine job with the voice work for Ultron, but the character is treated like an afterthought, someone who’s just dropping by and who seems more important than he really is. And so it goes with the entire cast of characters, all of whom go through the motions as if they’re participating in a commercial for The Avengers rather than in an actual movie.

It’s certainly more enjoyable than a commercial, but at least a commercial is over in thirty seconds. As flawed as the first movie was, it was very effective at bringing a rush of excitement with it when it put all of its heroes together; now, it’s still relatively fun to watch them hang out and save the world, but it feels so inconsequential, so low-stakes, so lacking in depth. The action is more “comic book” than usual, and whether you view that as good or bad, there’s no question that the movie can’t sail by on its action alone anymore. When the movie does attempt to shine a light on its characters, it runs into a brick wall made of cliches, contriving a romance between Banner and Romanoff that answers the question: “You have Scarlett Johansson and an awesome character in the Black Widow, so how do you ruin it?” Quite a few characters in this movie are done a disservice, and it’s a real shame because this is all happening while Hawkeye is becoming the most fun to watch. He finally gets a storyline–it could use some work, but it’s something!–and is kicking ass all around, but he’s not helped by the disparate plot points thrown in to pass for other characters’ stories.

New characters like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are also thrown in in order to introduce conflict, but the actual intriguing conflict generator–Tony Stark’s involvement with Ultron–seems like it’s brushed aside after all is said and done. If we can’t become invested in the main characters, then it becomes doubtful whether the creative team can actually generate something compelling for new characters. This is confirmed throughout Age of Ultron, and the most significant new character–I won’t spoil it, just in case you haven’t heard–is not much more than a few cool scenes. The movie becomes so overstuffed with characters and with nods at the future that it loses sight of its own story, and it has neither the thrill and novelty of the first movie nor the anticipation brought about by the mid-credits scene. It occupies a middle ground, but it’s not so much one that moves us from point A to point B as it is one that constantly circles point A, hoping to strike movie gold, but unable to do so. That’s okay, though, because they’ll undoubtedly strike box office gold.

GRADE: C+

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Idris Elba, Julie Delpy, Linda Cardellini, Andy Serkis, etc.? The cameos themselves can make an amazing cast.

-My favorite Marvel movies–that I’ve seen–remain Iron Man 1 and 3.

-I have not seen Days of Future Past yet, so I can’t really compare the two Quicksilvers. Maybe I’ll catch that someday; after all, one of the main scenes I was hearing about last year was the Quicksilver scene.

-There’s a scene in which Iron Man punches Hulk, and it’s great. You’ll know it when you see it.

-I’m legitimately looking forward to seeing what the Russo brothers do with this franchise.

SPOILERS:

-I feel like I already alluded to most of the scenes I have opinions about, so I’d just like to point out one moment in particular: Vision being able to lift Mjolnir out of the stone. It’s a great way to illustrate his “worthiness”, the fact that he is uncorrupted. And perhaps Cap being able to move it says something about him…? Or will say something?

-Oh, and not a fan of the ending. Adds to the whole “brushed off” idea I brought up earlier.

Photo credit: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Studios

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8 Responses to “Avengers: Age of Ultron Review”

  1. Mark V. May 2, 2015 at 1:18 am #

    It was annoying how Stark’s Mad Scientist Moment #1 was brushed aside due to the movie being on autopilot (Let’s go to Wakanda!). But when Stark’s Mad Scientist Moment #2 was brushed aside despite a skirmish breaking out AND how the movie ends with Stark and Rogers being butt buddies, that just got infuriating.

    AoU has a pattern of bringing up interesting plot points – particularly for Civil War – but then conveniently dropping it out of existence.

    This isn’t even getting into Stark going against his previous character arc of undoing his father’s warmonger legacy. Or Nick Fury’s deus ex machina appearance. That city should’ve been sacrificed, both for much needed tension and to stoke the fires for Civil War in having superheroes regulated for their actions.

    More like Avengers: Age of Wasted Opportunities.

    • polarbears16 May 2, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      Exactly. I think the word “Filler” gets thrown around a bit too much these days, but I can’t think of a better way to describe this movie. And like you said, it really should’ve had more consequences. Wasted opportunities, indeed.

  2. MovieManJackson May 2, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    Skipped over the spoilers, but after reading a few takes, it seems that this is pretty overbloated and passable, but not as charming as the first. Great review Polarbears.

  3. Hepburn3 May 3, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    I am in truth not a Marvel fan. I do not read their books and I tolerate only a few of their movies. I hate the Avengers, like the Xmen (but I am a tad tired of them of late), and I am stoked for Deadpool ( he makes me laugh). I would love for there to be a Power-man and Iron-Fist film along with Misty and Colleen as the Heroes for Hire! That would be the coolness, but there will be the Power-man tv show so there is that.
    I find to be honest that what I do not like about the Marvel/Disney films that I have seen is that they never seem to focus on the now, the plot of film, but rather they are just gearing up to plug the next big Marvel/Disney extravaganza. They are just one big ad for the next project, I am not interested in that.
    In saying that I would like to see a Black Widow stand alone film instead of her being the eye candy support to the men in Ironman, The Avengers and Captain America. If they could do that that would be okay.

    All of my friends who have seen AoU had the same complaints as you PB.
    Yes I am not a Marvel fan, but in saying that I am in truth looking forward to the new Fantastic Four film (by Sony) for it has to be better than the dreck of the the other FF films and the Marvel/Disney films.

    • polarbears16 May 3, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

      “they never seem to focus on the now, the plot of film, but rather they are just gearing up to plug the next big Marvel/Disney extravaganza. ”

      Exactly. And I feel like these movies are not ending anytime soon, so they’ll always be looking forward to the future and to more cash. It’s disappointing.

  4. killkenny16 May 3, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    Most people would be terrified to name Iron Man 3 one of their favourite movies. The nerd rage at that movie is kind of ridiculous, really (I say this as a semi-proud nerd).

    Good review, although I’d be lying if I said most of your critiques didn’t sail over my plebe head. I really, really loved this movie.

    • polarbears16 May 3, 2015 at 8:22 pm #

      Yeah, most people would put it above Iron Man 2, but probably wouldn’t say it’s one of their favorite Marvel movies. I thought it was the really fun and entertaining movie that Ultron was not.

      I’m glad you really liked it!

  5. royjeffords June 2, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    This is the plan for Saturday night. Thanks for the post. I would have been badly disappointed and let down.

    Go Blackhawks!

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