THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS, IN AGE OF ULTRON, WHICH IS BIGGER, FUNNIER, DARKER AND QUITE FRANKLY MORE EMOTIONAL THAN IT’S PREDECESSOR. AGE OF ULTRON CONTINUES THE TREND OF BIG BUDGET SEQUELS BEING THE SUPERIOR TRIUMPHANT OVER THE ORIGINAL.
From the opening scene of the movie, which is cleverly done as one continuous shot, we are dropped into the latest heroic endeavors of “Earth’s mightiest heroes.” From there Writer/Director (and all around fanboy) Joss Whedon and his cast and crew exceed all expectations by making not only a superior film and but also one of the better entries in the ever growing Marvel Cinematic Universe.
This film is indeed a checklist for everything needed in a big summer blockbuster sequel, but… is that really a bad thing? In following what is one of the top 3 biggest and most successful movies OF ALL TIME, the film has to at least raise the bar, even by a small margin. The great thing about Age of Ultron is that it’s firing on all cylinders from jump street, so even if you have trouble keeping up with story, you’ll be so pre damn occupied having a helluva lot of fun, that by the time you’re walking out of theater you won’t remember or have any negatives about it.
The plot itself, although familiar and sometimes clunky never strays away from the main beats. The basic idea is after raiding an outpost which holds the remnants of Hydra (That nasty terrorist organization we saw in Cap 2) now lead by Baron Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann),
The Avengers: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), Hulk (Mark Rufallo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) have finally rid themselves of the terrorist organization and captured the elusive scepter that Loki used to wreck havoc on their beloved city, in their first outing as a team just two years ago. Tired from saving the world 24/7, thanks to the crumbling of S.H.E.I.L.D. in The Winter Soldier, Tony decides to build an peacekeeping A.I. armada that can takeover the heroic duties while the team recuperates, using Loki’s scepter and assistance from Banner the duo develops Ultron (James Spader), a self aware sentient A.I. build in Tony’s likeness who quickly realizes that in order to save the world, humans must be eradicated. After Ultron enlist the help of two mysterious super-humans Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), the malevolent robot begins his tirade of destruction, by hurting The Avengers where it hurts the most and pitting them against each others throats.
From that description alone, the feeling of the stakes and risks being higher and more personal are obvious, but while the danger is real and the team is more lost than ever, Age of Ultron never stops being fun, there are jokes and witty banter a plenty, and what makes the movie all the more better is that it succeeds where I thought the first film largely failed, character development. There is point in the film where Scarlet Witch (Olsen) uses her powers to reveal the teams most deep and troubling fears, and while each fear is interesting we only get to see four of them play out fully: Thor’s fear which leads into an unnecessary subplot that sets up his next feature, Hulk’s which leads into an amazing fight sequence between him and Iron Man.
Black Widow’s fear which enriches her character to new depths and is probably the most interesting of the fears that gets revealed, and Stark’s fear which serves as the catalyst for the films main plot and birth of it’s villain
Of which who steals the show, make no mistake folks, Ultron is a complex character who motivations is sound, and is surprisingly hysterical, however though he never really develops beyond that and leaves most of the grunt work to Olsen and Taylor-Johnson’s characters, despite the shortcomings that are present in the script about Spader’s character Ultron (including his master plan, which is just recycled elements for every sci-fi movie that has a corrupt A.I. in it). Spader more than makes up for it, he chews up the scenery and dramatizes his performance to hall of fame and finally gives this universe a, at the very least good villain than the mediocre ones we’ve been getting. Spader gives a surprisingly funny and devilishly charismatic charm to Ultron that makes him a standout. Another standout is Renner (Hawkeye).
A character which surprisingly got the shaft in the first movie and was viewed as many as disposable and a sure bet to be killed off in this movie (SPOILERS he doesn’t), is perhaps fleshed out the most in this film and shines where all the over Avengers fail, Renner is giving the best lines and some of the more emotional beats of the film, particularly in the final act, which is where the film is both the most fun and the most tedious and that leads into my biggest gripes with the movie.
While this film is indeed a checklist for everything needed in a big budget movie sequel, which includes bigger actions set pieces, non stop pacing, and bombastically heroic score (by composer Brian Tyler) the film suffers from over saturation of that checklist as well, going well beyond the mark to remind just how big and epic this film is or needed to be and some characters suffer, mainly the Twins.
For the bulk of movie do all the heavy lifting and grunt work for Ultron but aren’t giving enough character until the final act where Joss and team jam everything in that last half hour. There is also a love story between the Scarlet Johansson and Ruffallo that feels like it came outta left field, luckily their characters are both given good moments and are fleshed out more separately that we are able to at least accept their weird relationship, which leads into a weird character decision towards the tail end of them.
Characters who also get the shaft this time around are Maria Hill (Cobie Smudlers), and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) who are crow-barred in the movie and given little to no real reason of being in the film, as well as Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Don Chedel’s Rodey Rhodes aka War Machine who make glorified cameos, and yet besides those few gripes, Age of Ultron largely succeeds where past films have failed, although not quite balancing all the balls he’s juggling at once, Joss Whedon steers us and the Marvel cinematic universe into what is to be a dark period story wise.
THIS MOVIE IS REEL BADASS