It’s that time of year again where fellow writer and I write competing reviews about comic book movies. On the agenda this time is the much anticipated sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron. Some spoilers ahead.
The nerd fighting has begun…or has continued…with now an even more impressive force as Age of Ultron has finally been released for domestic audiences. There is a lot to say. There is of course, as with any movie, plenty to love and plenty to criticize. But overall the movies packed a lot of humor, a lot of action, and managed to plant the seeds for what is to come.
The movie opens right off the bat with an action packed set of scenes in the wilderness of the fictional nation of Sokovia. The fight scenes are incredible in this film, utilizing each character’s strength. The use of slow motion was not abused as it has been in other films. There are also excellent team up fights with various characters. They are well choreographed and the twins are introduced early on and are flung into action. Their role is significant and I like the chemistry that the two displayed as siblings. Now the accent work was a little rough at times, but this was mainly because the two had to have similar accents and this is the first time that Elizabeth Olson has had to do that. It was especially difficult for Aaron Taylor-Johnson as he is British. The two accents despite this matched fairly well.
The majority of the film’s plot begins with Bruce Banner and Tony Stark attempting to built something titled the Ultron Program, as kind of a global peace-keeping force. The logic is that this AI would be able to fight the bad guys so the Avengers would be able to retire and go about their lives, get married, have kids, all that jazz. Doesn’t really go as planned and Ultron decides to destroy humanity instead. Good times.
Ultron is a much more intimidating villain than Loki could ever hope to be. Loki was more of a whiny prince bent on subjugation. Ultron’s voice was a bit too casual, but still strong and his body was very threatening. He has a sense of humor that is more reserved for him than for anyone else. His humor sometimes fell flat, but that was likely the point. He is a very calculating villain with major plans and he doesn’t waste time.
This movie, more than the first Avenger movie referenced past and future Marvel works. First and foremost the movie starts after Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They make a point to show they are going after remaining HYDRA operatives, as well as making a reference to remind the audience the search is still on for Bucky Barnes. Furthermore we see the first actual mention by an Avenger of the infinity stones which as most fans know is the premise for the two-part Avengers Infinity War film. One infinity gem is used perfectly and made a lot of fans really happy.
Clint Barton whether you love him or hate him really does a great job in this movie. He is a capable agent, a man of many trades, and he acknowledges that even though he isn’t the most powerful person on the team he does his job and does it well. We see a new side of a lot of characters and delve into a whole new realm with Clint, borrowing a bit more from the Ultimate universe instead of the more mainstream 616.
The romance between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff was a little awkward at first since to the viewer it seemingly comes out of nowhere. But as the movie progresses the audience is almost rooting for them. They actually end up being kind of adorable and the two actors play off each other well.
Natasha Romanoff is an incredibly complex and woman and we finally get to learn a little about her origins (for those who didn’t know before). She is still a strong character and we all know she is just as capable as all the others. Her friendship with Barton is shown better than in the first film and she ends up blending in very well with the boys.
We get to see a lot more of the Bruce Banner from the hulk movies, versus the one we met in Avengers. This Banner is the cavalry, he’s called in only when they absolutely have to and he is constantly worried about the well-being of the people around him. He does not want to hurt anyone and has immense guilt over his actions. Banner is a big dork. The Hulk is the exact opposite of this. The deeper exploration could not have been done in the first film, but in this one it shows the toll all the avenging has had on him.
Tony Stark and his Hulk Buster armor is pretty cool and a lot of his new tech has been co-designed with his science bro Bruce Banner. The tech is impressive and even with it, it takes a lot to subdue the beast. Tony is the same as he’s always been, nonchalant, vaguely guilt-ridden and he doesn’t always know what exactly he is doing. He acknowledges that he made a mistake and only towards the end of the film truly comes to realize what exactly he had created.
Steve Rogers in MCU finally reflected Steve Rogers in 616. He and Tony start off okay, but as the movie progresses you see a lot of the tension that will come to explosion come Civil War. Steve is the leader of the team and he makes a few really good points. He’s actually very cute throughout the movie. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. do an excellent job of playing off each other, the declining if we can even call it a friendship and the oncoming storm.
Wanda and Pietro Maximoff are portrayed very well and they left room out for Wanda’s powers to be explored a lot more. You see a lot of Pietro’s snark and his love for his sister. There is great interaction between the two that is silent more than dialogue and I think those scenes are better than they would have been with dialogue. They have reservations and are both powerful. Special effect wise their powers are portrayed in a very cool way. Pietro’s speed could have had a bit more of a boost, but I love the color as he zoomed by. I think he blew DOFP Peter out of the water.
We got to see the return of Rhodey, Sam Wilson, Maria Hill, Erik Selvig, and Nick Fury, and are introduced to the brilliant Helen Cho, the mother, if you will of a hero we meet in this movie. It was great to see so many people interact with other Avengers.
Overall the movie is very entertaining and I sat in the theater not wanting it to end. I laughed, I cried, I wanted to throw things at certain characters. But that is what makes a movie good, when it can make you feel a spectrum of emotions in a 2.5 hour flick. The special effects could have been polished up a bit better at times and slight modifications could have been made to the writing an cinematography. But this movie brought home a lot of things and set up the future of MCU and did it while we were thoroughly entertained.
I am the Marvel nerd here and I will say that this movie did not tank by any means. it is not without its problems. They could have easily made it a bit darker without diminishing the movie’s quality and Joss could have done more with the film. But it was entertaining, it made me laugh, I couldn’t tare my eyes from it. It rocked in all the right places. I can and will be seeing it again for great action, for excellent acting, and a fun ride.
Final Grade from Captain Israel B+/A-