Avengers Age of Ultron review (Spoiler free): Avenge harder
I’m generally pretty good about ignoring early reviews of movies I intend to review, but it couldn’t be helped with Avengers: Age of Ultron. Unsurprisingly, my Twitter feed is populated by reviewers that have an interest in this sort of movie. On the plus side though, I remain completely unspoiled for Helen Hunt and Luke Wilson’s Ride. Score.
I still haven’t read any reviews, but who needs a lengthy and well thought out critique of something when you can boil the whole thing down to 140 characters or less? Despite my best intentions, it just wasn’t possible to avoid all impressions of the movie. It’s like trying to avoid getting wet when it’s raining – assuming the rain drops were highly opinionated and snarky. Regardless, I was left a little concerned going in.
The general consensus seemed to be that Age of Ultron was alright, but nowhere near as good as the original. And I can see that point of view. I disagree with it, but I can see it.
I don’t know if Age of Ultron is better than the original, I’ll need to watch it about four more times to come close to a decision. But I can see why some would say that. Age of Ultron is a comic book movie made for comic book fans. If you didn’t grow up reading Avengers, it’s still a good action movie capping off an incredible and intricately connected world spanning several movies, but you’re missing some of the best moments.
If you don’t know things like who the Vision is, his birth won’t mean much to you. If you are a Marvel comics fans, it will blow your damn mind. And when Vision (Paul Bettany) does appear, it’s pitch perfect. If anything, I wanted more of him. For a standalone film that might be a problem – he is a bit under developed. Given that the character will return, possibly multiple times though, it was an excellent introduction.
The cameos may seem gratuitous to some, but if you are a fan, they all seem exactly right. A party filled with Marvel characters? Hell yes. Oh, hell yes.
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver? Baron von Strucker?! Infinity Gems?!? Done, done, and done.
For some it will seem like an indulgence – and it is. In most ways the entire point of Marvel having a shared universe is to indulge itself and it fans, and Age of Ultron is by far the most indulgent Marvel film yet.
Whedon has claimed that this will be his last Marvel movie as director. There may come a day when Marvel needs a hit and Whedon gotta eat, so maybe he’ll be lured back for the Speedball movie or something. Given his obvious love of comics, that may not be that tough of a sell.
Age of Ultron feels like a more confident film than the first, at least in the sense that Whedon seems more comfortable in being himself, quirks and all. Having a billion dollar hit under your belt will do that. His presence was definitely felt in the first film, but it goes further in this movie. He even plays off his own reputation, but you’ll have to be a fan of Whedon’s style to see exactly how and when – going into more detail would lead to spoilers, but it feels very much like a Whedon film.
As a director, Whedon has matured and grown thanks to these films. He was always talented, but now he’s worked on the biggest stage in Hollywood and honed his craft.
I have a pet peeve when it comes to modern action films. Directors frequently rely on trick camera work – shaky cams, quick cuts, bizarre angles, etc., etc. – to make it all seem more hectic. It’s a bad crutch, especially when you have the budget to do it properly. Whedon gets that. There are no spinning cameras or obscured movements. Instead, you have slow motion action scenes, with cameras that move around to show you everything. What’s the point of having people with incredible powers fighting evil robots if you can’t see anything?
He also seems to have heard all the complaints from the last film and addressed them head on, beginning with Hawkeye.
In the original film, Hawkeye was the one Avenger that came off poorly. He had a few cool fight scenes, but zero development. If anything he had negative development, since he was basically Loki’s bitch throughout the film. He is much more heavily emphasized in this film, and he also has the absolute best line in the movie.
If you aren’t a Hawkeye fan, don’t worry, Age of Ultron does a remarkable job of allowing each character to have his and her moment. That’s even more impressive considering how many characters are in the film.
Normally this is where I would outline the plot of the film. In fact, I wrote out a paragraph before I deleted it. But why bother? There has never been a film quite like this. It isn’t the sequel of Avengers, it’s the sequel to 10 previous films. You don’t need me to say anymore, because you already know more about the setting than almost any film ever made. Me telling you about it won’t make any difference, and if you are going to see this film and somehow managed to remain in the dark about the plot, you are a lucky bastard.
All you really need to know for the purposes of this review is that Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a malevolent AI with the ability to control several robotic bodies at once and build himself powerful new metal bodies, is the bad guy. The only reason I bring it up is that the character is possibly the only weak link in the movie.
Growing up I had an impression of Ultron. He was a scary son of a bitch. The Avengers were afraid of him, and every time he would appear, it would take a Hail Mary to defeat him. Age of Ultron’s take on the character is a different than you’ve seen in the comics. He’s kind of a smartass. It’s an interesting take, but it makes the character much less threatening.
The story focuses as much on the team dynamic as it does Ultron, which goes back to my earlier point. If you are a fan of the comics, you’ll probably love this. The team interacting with each other, the characters playing off each other, the heroes put into uncomfortable situations… For a comic fan, it is an indulgence, but of the absolute best kind.
Avengers Age of Ultron review conclusion
There are moments in this movie I still can’t believe actually exist. Even with years of evidence at this point, it still blows me away to see that Marvel has pulled off this cinematic phenomenon. The fanboy in me won’t stop screaming. It’s a damn shame to see Whedon leave, but there are enough signs of what is to come to keep the excitement levels high, and that will help as I see Age of Ultron again and again.
Maybe Age of Ultron isn’t as good as The Avengers, I honestly don’t know yet. And to be fair, it’s a pointless question. If you grew up a fan of comics, these are good days. What more do you need to know?