Avengers: Age Of Ultron
May 1, 2015 - 2 hr. 21 min.
Director - Joss Whedon
Writers - Joss Whedon, Stan Lee
Starring - Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
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Read the Review by Keith Cheatham
Seven years ago, Marvel released a film, produced by them, fully owned by them, called Iron Man. Prior to this film various other Marvel properties had been realized on the big screen, all of whose film rights had been bought from Marvel by several other production companies. A handful were successes, (Raimi’s Spider-man series, X-men, the first two Blades) many were failures (Ghost-Rider, Punisher, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, the list trails on.) Iron Man was unique in that the film rights were owned by Marvel themselves, and it came at a time when people were beginning to doubt the success and viability of comic book films, that were not Batman or Spiderman. After its release, Summer block busters have never been the same. Comic book films have thrived, and to Marvel’s delight, their catalogue of film rights included not just Iron Man, but Thor, Hulk, and Captain America, with these characters Marvel could do, what no other company had done before, create a universe on screen, that was as vast as the comics themselves, and thus the Avengers film franchise was born.
Now we begin the Summer blockbuster season with the opening of Marvel’s next film: Avenger’s: Age of Ultron, written and directed by the king of comic book nerds themselves, Joss Whedon, who likewise wrote and directed the first Avengers. Marvel has produced 10 films now, prior to Age of Ultron’s release, even with some hiccups along the way, all 10 films have been critical successes, and mostly enjoyed by fans. How then does the Avengers sequel fare?
First and foremost, I think we have to look at the story, because with 10 movies before it all with continuity and characters that would and should influence its story, not to mention setting up threads for future movies, but more on that later, this movie and Joss Whedon have a lot to balance. Luckily, juggling multiple characters and story arcs is something Whedon excels at; it helped land him his gig as director of the first Avengers, where he pulled it off spectacularly, and I will argue that he once again nailed it with Age of Ultron. The movie starts off right out of the gate, with fun action, but also doing something more during that action, it perfectly reintroduces every main character and their personalities, introduces us to new characters, and sets up the plot for the entire film. There is admittedly a lot of plot and information packed into this film, and while some may feel it is a bit rushed and too quickly paced, I find Whedon takes all the information, and weaves in into the plot so that it flows, yes at a rapid pace, but in a way that does feel natural. And while there is lots of action and fast paced scenes, Whedon does still treat us to slower moments, such as the party scene where we get a feel for what has been happening to each character since their own respective films, or the farm scene, a scene I find one of the best in the entire movie, where we get to see the natural progression of our cast, and a deeper look at the life of a character previously with very little development. So, all in all while few may gripe, I applaud Whedon for accomplishing a task not many could, and doing it so that the story naturally unfolds, and makes us care about the characters themselves more than the pretty explosions they produce.
Having talked about how well he handled the story itself, I will now state that Joss Whedon’s writing and directing were both superb, if they weren't, all of what I just stated would have been a jumbled mess, instead of the fun film we received. As director Whedon brings all these characters and actors together, has a perfect sense of each character and each character’s film, and never loses that feel of the stand-alone movies, all the while creating his own unique films with the Avengers, that being said, Whedon loves one liners, and many were quirky and humorous as they should be, but there are two or three that are notably cringe worthy.
The CGI is incredible, but it’s the Avengers and Marvel, so it should be. Iron Man is as perfect as he can be, the Hulk looks better than ever with life like skin textures and not just a rubbery green menace. The final battle in the film is one of the greatest works in superhero films I have yet to witness, with incredible action and special effects creating a flying city, crumbling buildings and full scale war between Ultron and his army of robots versus the Avengers, it’s no Lord of the Rings, but there is plenty of eye candy and fun to be had.
As for acting, well it won’t be winning Academy Awards but that doesn't make it bad. All the veteran actors you can tell, truly have a sense of their characters and play them to a tee. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. stand out as Captain America and Iron Man respectively offering as I mentioned before growth and evolution to who they were, are, and are becoming, foreshadowing Marvel’s Civil War. Ruffalo and Johanson spark up a romance that is natural feeling and layered. Renner injects much humor and personality into Hawkeye and is a huge boon to what we got to see in Avengers 1. New comers Arron Taylor Johnson and Emily Olson, both of whom were in Godzilla, reunite this time as twin brother and sister Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, thrusting two new characters into an already overloaded cast could have been fatal, but Whedon handled it with finesse, and both actors excelled in their roles, offering a different perspective on powered people not previously seen in Marvel Films. Also reprising the voice of Jarvis, and stepping into the new role of The Vision is Paul Bettaney, who stole the show as Vision, and was one of the films definite highlights. Lastly, a credit should be given to James Spader who voiced the films villain Ultron, who was perfectly chilling, but also sadly misguided and very human as a menacing artificial intelligence wanting to help the world evolve.
The film is not without its flaws, as mentioned a few cringe worthy one liners, a flying semi-trailer, that while executed believably, was just a tad too hokey visually, that I wonder if they could have found a better way to play the scene out. I have previously stated the CGI is top quality, and while this is true, the character design for Ultron did have one visible flaw, in that he was a metal robot, but had a mouth that move like human lips. It has been stated this had been done to help humanize Ultron and allow him to emote more visibly, and while most won’t be bothered by it, it was a tiny little thing that was unrealistic and did distract me for a brief 30 seconds, but I moved on. Likewise one character in the film loses an arm, and while the scene itself is fine, and the character survives, also fine, there are a few moments I felt the character displayed a little too much energy for a man who'd lost his arm, chalk it up to adrenaline maybe? But again, all these things are very minor complaints.
Over all Whedon and Marvel have struck gold again!, the film is fun, and exceptionally well done, with it only flaws being nitpicky things that stop it from reaching a perfect score.
I give Avengers: Age of Ultron 3.5 out of 4 stars.