Friday, May 1, 2015


Avengers: Age of Ultron is, in short, one great movie. A visual spectacular that deals with Tony Stark and Bruce Banner creating an artificial intelligence lifeform, Ultron, that severly backfires when Ultron decides to wipe out humanity, and the Avengers need to save the world by stopping Ultron and his army of robots. Director Joss Whedon brought back what worked and fixed the problems the first movie had. Gone was the slower paced first hour the primary film suffered. This one starts with an amazing action sequence, and things only get better from there. All the action scenes are highlights, and unlike the Nolan-Snyder approach, are fun and colorful and still convey danger and thrills. Another flaw in the first film was that many scenes happened on a SHIELD aircraft, giving the movie, at times, an almost made-for-television feel.  The sequel avoids such a contrivance, yet still has quieter character scenes that match the big budget spectacle of the action scenes. Stand out moments include the Avengers' party, that concludes with everyone trying to lift Thor's hammer, and the banter between the various characters, such as everyone ragging on Captain America after he tells Iron Man to watch his language during the film's first sequence.

All of the actors return to their respective roles. Chris Hemsworth, who kind of phoned in his performance in the lackluster Thor: The Dark World, redeems himself with a stellar performance. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johanson, and Mark Ruffalo all continue with great performances as their characters.   Jeremy Renner, who was kind of the odd man out in the first movie, shines here as Hawkeye in character scenes, and if Tony Stark is the brains, Thor the might, and Steve Rogers the soul, you could say Clint Barton is the heart of the Avengers. Three new major characters are introduced: The Vision, played by Paul Bettany, The Scarlet Witch, played by the Olsen Twins' younger sister Elizabeth, and Quicksilver, played by Aaron Taylor Johnson. Of the three, I thought Scarlet Witch had the best portrayal, perhaps due to Whedon's credentials in similar characters dating back to his Buffy The Vampire Slayer years. Quicksilver has a pivotal scene, where as the movie seems to be setting up Hawkeye for a heroic final fate, only to give us a "you didn't see that coming" swerve, that needless to say, means Quicksilver may now be the sole property of the X Men franchise.  Ironically, as good as Johnson was as Quicksilver, I thought Evan Peters' competing portrayal in X Men: Days of Future Past was slightly better, and the film effects of his speed were better realised (and I'm saying this as someone who isn't a big fan of the X Men franchise). The film ends with the founding Avengers moving on, leaving Captain America and Black Widow to train a new incarnation of the team consisting of the Vision, Scarlet Witch, the Falcon, and War Machine.

I've always been a DC guy. But I have to say the Marvel Cinematic Universe is getting it right. I kind of fear for the upcoming Batman v Superman and Justice League movies because the powers-that-be at DC/WB have lost sight of what a superhero movie could be. Colors are washed out, everything is taken to a level of seriousness one would expect from a documentary on the Holocaust.  The fun has been sucked out. The Marvel Cinematic Universe remembers that superheroes could be fun. Avengers: Age of Ultron squeaks in just below Captain America: The Winter Soldier as the second best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to date.

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