A Marvel Studios Film, Directed by Joss Whedon.
Released: 1st May 2015
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Samuel L. Jackson and James Spader
Some Notes on my viewing experience: I was never going to enjoy Avengers: Age of Ultron as much as I wanted to for a number of reasons.
The first and foremost was the insane amount of commercials and marketing surrounding the film. On one hand, I can appreciate companies need to reiterate that they are not just flogging the same sort of film that we’ve seen countless times before. But on the other hand, this is The Avengers. As several commercials have said; the summer’s greatest heroes are back. This didn’t need to be sold. It was a sure success even if it turned out to be terrible. But this film may have finally been what I needed to encourage me to stop watching trailers; I’m a man with little self-control; I’m not very good with money, I drink, I smoke; I’m just generally a bit useless. So when a company offers me a glimpse at something I’m excited about, I’m going to watch the hell out of it. And that really backfired on this film. Apart from three rather insignificant plot points, I knew exactly what was going to happen every step of the way throughout the film. Not that it was predictable by any means; there are loads of twists and turns and surprises, but having seen various things online, I anticipated them all. If you’ve got to this stage without looking at any promotional material, I commend you, and if you’ve already started and are tempted to watch more, then I warn you now: don’t.
Another warning I would offer is to not see the film in 3D. Age of Ultron is a beauty to behold, but frankly, from the get go, there’s a lot going on. The film dives right into the action, as the Avengers set out of squash Hydra once and for all, and finish cleaning up the various messes they have made. There are some beautifully choreographed fight scenes, and every character gets a chance in the spotlight. But when you’ve got Captain America somersaulting around, Hawkeye and Black Widow gunning down villains, Iron Man blasting lasers, Thor zapping people with lightning and the Hulk lumbering about tearing things to pieces, trying to keep up really starts to hurt your eyes (and I have perfect vision, for the record).
But that’s enough complaining, frankly, because truth-be-told, those are both things that could have been avoided.
Review [MINOR SPOILERS TO FOLLOW]: Joss Whedon expertly ties together the various strands from all the Marvel franchises into an interesting interwoven plot as the Avengers finally begin to finish clearing up the various messes they have made since the first film. Defeating Hydra, the Avengers are faced with the new evil of artificial intelligence, as Chitauri tech infects Tony Stark and Bruce Banner’s work to create the titular Ultron; a peacekeeping initiative who decrees the only way to peace is through humanity’s extinction. In their quest to defeat Ultron, the Avengers come to blows with one another and outside forces like Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, all the while, a new hero, the Vision, ascends to the battlefield.
What’s great about this entry is that although Captain America, Thor and Iron Man do spend a lot of time in the spotlight, it is the other Avengers that really shine. Black Widow continues her gradual evolution to a place where the audience is really touched by her tragic back-story, whilst Hawkeye is shown to have a sense of humor and a heart that is more important to the team than just his bow and arrows. Meanwhile, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch manage to undergo interesting characters arcs that, whilst cementing them as some of my favorite characters in the film, didn’t take up too much time, avoiding putting off any potential naysayers. Even the Hulk, who can’t even speak, showed true depth of character, especially at the climax of the film.
The only characters who could have perhaps of done with more screen-time were War Machine, the Vision and the Falcon (the last of whom I really would have loved to see more of), but in a film so packed with characters, that was understandable, especially as it becomes clear at the end that we will be seeing a lot more of them, as all three characters join the new Avengers roster. But the problem with the Vision is although he was visually spectacular, to non-comic-fans (like my housemate) his whole story could seem rather bizarre. His powers aren’t explained at all; he just shows up, starts phasing through things and shooting lasers out of his head. Although I understood perfectly, having read far more comics in my lifetime than necessary, I could see how things like this left the otherwise great story with some plot-holes to pick at. For instance:
Why can a ‘mind gem’ shoot rays of light? What’s the point in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. if Nick Fury still has people loyal to him and his own mother-freakin’ Helicarrier? Why would Ultron Prime make his drones look cooler (and closer to the source material) than he is? And perhaps most important of all, why is Tony Stark’s armor now Irish? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that last one; but we agreed it seemed a tad out of place)
Yes, those were some of the stupider ones I picked, but to these and more questions, the answers seemed to vary between ‘there isn’t any point’ and ‘because why not?’, which isn’t exactly what we as an audience were looking for.
But at this stage, in such a rapidly expanding universe, there are going to be a lot of plot holes and plot leaks to come, so just sit back and enjoy the ride, because Age of Ultron is both visually stimulating and awesomely exciting.
Plus Iron Man vs. the Hulk? Amazing.