Saturday, May 2, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron – review

I hate to say how disappointing this movie was.  Sequels are rarely better than their predecessors and unfortunately this is case. It is not a bad film by any stretch, there is a bank of talent that is still trying to make a decent product, but as a whole the film is weaker than first but a vast margin. The first was impressive because it tied various directors, characters, and properties into a cohesive adventure. This feels like a long filler episode. This review may have some spoilers.

If you watched the events of Iron Man 3 you might remember Iron Man getting surgery to have the shrapnel removed so that he is basically not Iron Man anymore. He destroyed all his suits and drove off to live happily as a billionaire. Well, Tony is back as Iron Man- no explanation there. What about the ending of Thor 2 where we saw that Loki had taken over the throne of Asgard? Never even brought up. Instead of acknowledging the films that came before it like the first did, this movie seems to take great pains to avoid bringing them up.

Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr. and Bruce Banner, played by Mark Ruffalo, create an artificial intelligence in the hopes that they can retire the Avengers and create a force for world peace. The AI-system is called Ultron, voiced by James Spader, and he feels that the best way for there to be world peace is to destroy humanity.  The Avengers must band together again to stop this robot menace and save the world. 

Let’s start by talking about what was good in this movie. James Spader is awesome as Ultron. His line delivery oozes with cold disgust for humanity and smug superiority. The other actors fall into their old rolls well and it is comfortable to see them again. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver have ridiculous accents that I personally could have done without, but both Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen play their parts well.

The biggest problem to this movie is that there are too many characters to focus on. They have added several new characters and all deserve a backstory but all are basically glossed over. They instead focus on things that add nothing to the narrative, these include: discovery of Hawkeye’s hidden family, the romance between Black Widow and the Hulk, Black Widow getting kidnapped by Ultron for no reason whatsoever, the trip to Africa, and the fight with the Hulk and the Hulkbuster. I would have gladly given those scenes up in order to have some character development.

The action and CGI is fun to watch but after awhile I felt like I was just watching cartoon characters duke it out. The realism was just lost and it became even more silly than usual. Ultron’s plan for the destruction of humanity is on par with a Bond villain and any amount of physics or logic should have made the plan implausible from the start. I guess they really wanted to make this comic movie seem like it was coming straight off the pages.
The worse offense is the obvious attempt to grasp at the audience’s emotions. There is a character that dies in the film and his death is supposed to be big, dramatic, and meaningful. It would be if the audience cared who the character was. In the first film this was done when Agent Coulson was killed and he united the team in his death. Coulson had been in several other Marvel films and he was well liked. It was a shame when he died. This death just seemed empty and manipulative.

If you are a fan of the first Avengers movie you probably already brought your tickets to this blockbuster. If you are patient enough to wait then I recommend seeing it a rental. It’s a good movie but it doesn’t live up to the hype. An Avengers movie needs to be epic with things at stake and a narrative that isn’t just a mass of quips and action scenes.  This movie falls short where it could have been really unique and interesting. In making a series this epic, mediocrity can be one of the biggest crimes of all.

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