AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! ALSO, SPOILER ALERT! I DON’T KNOW WHY I HAVE THIS IN CAPS! IT JUST SEEMS AWESOME TO DO THAT!
Btw, the Transformers movies oughta take notes from this movie. Just saying.
Okay, back to regular-sized text. And to the review. So, Avengers: Age of Ultron is finally out. It’s already making half a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, and I’m sure it’ll be hitting a billion or two by the time I finish this review. When I saw the first Avengers movie, I was pumped up, seeing all these characters come together, having gone through their own adventures and changing as a result (in Hulk’s case, going from Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo lol), all culminating together and when the explosive action happens, it is well worth it. It took its time to develop the characters, story, tension, action, and everything else that made it literally a comic book come to life. And the same can be said about this movie, but different in its own way too.
The movie itself doesn’t exactly feel quite as “epic” as the first Avengers movie, and I’m not saying this movie isn’t epic at all. In fact, it’s actually more of a personal, somewhat smaller and darker story, though it feels like some things were being held back or missing.The Avengers was about how they came together, despite all their differences, in order to save the world from an alien invasion. In this movie, it’s about them staying together, questioning how and why they’re together, how they’ll continue avenging, and what’s the next step for them. But the threat they face isn’t another alien invasion, because the first movie was giving a glimpse to that “higher form of war” that Thor (Chris Hemsworth) talked about, not an outside threat. It’s a threat from within, coming from their own, and that’s Ultron.
Ultron was the perfect foe to fit the film’s mindset, and I’m glad Joss Whedon didn’t decide to go with Thanos being the main villain, since he is apparently going to be in Infinity War anyway. Both in comics and film, Ultron was created during a time of the Avengers’ hubris, when they starting to be “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, saving the world and fighting evil, so they needed a challenge from within, something that was created from their own members as a way of doing what they do in case something happened to them or if they called it quits. But that backfired, because Ultron acts like a living thing just being born, aware of what he is and what he was created for, and is angry about it and takes it out on everyone. James Spader pulls it off as Ultron. He doesn’t do the stereotypical, evil, Spock-like, logic-based villain. He does contain knowledge, but sometimes goes back and forth between being an advanced robot and an anger management patient. I never exactly got that kind of feeling of him in the comics like in the film, and I think that’s because of James Spader. See, it’s not Ultron being debuted in live-action on the big screen, it’s JAMES SPADER AS ULTRON. Not Ultron, JAMES SPADER AS ULTRON. No matter what Spader is in, hero or villain, he’s always a rascal. And him playing Ultron is no different, though it is on a bigger scale since he wants to cause extinction. He’s the kind of guy I’d want to get a beer with.
This movie manages to balance between a character-driven story and a blockbuster extravaganza, though it does get scatter-brained at times, especially near the end. There’s plenty of humor and gags, the most exemplary being the “language” running gag. The characters get more fleshed out and developed, like Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) having differences over how to save the world and what lines need to be drawn, something that will obviously get more fleshed out (and decked out between the two) in the upcoming Civil War movie. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is spotlighted more often, bonding with his family and also contemplating his importance and reasoning for being on the team, yet helping the Avengers stay together. However, things do seemed forced, especially with the “relationship” between Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). I mean, where did that come from? It wasn’t exactly implied or anything in the first movie, so how did this happen? It’s not bad, just out of place, and doesn’t feel like it goes anywhere, though there is nice bonding moments between the two, especially when Nat reveals to Banner what happened during her training and how she became who she is. Thor is still brash as ever, but still often takes time to contemplate, and by contemplate I mean go in a pool and have a “bad trip”. Don’t worry, with Scarlet Witch, everyone affected by her gets bad trips, and the dream sequences are pretty cool, giving more insight into the characters’ hopes, fears, dreams, and backstories, especially with Black Widow. Though I wish Banner could’ve had some dream sequence like the others did when affected by Scarlet Witch, but the Hulk rampage will do.
War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Falcon (Anthony Mackie) show up and are able to hold their own, but don’t appear for much, though Rhodey (War Machine) does more than Wilson (Falcon) in this. New characters Vision (Paul Bettany), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) add more layers to the story and characterization, though it does feel rushed at times. Vision can be thoughtful and a force to be reckoned with, but also kinda innocent since he was just “born” in the movie. It’s like Paul Bettany turned into JARVIS 2.0 and he can kick butt. And even though he’s put in near three quarters of the movie, he’s actually pretty well-developed. Quicksilver is a short fuse, obviously being different than how the character was done in X-Men: Days of Future Past, where he was sarcastic and made quips, in this movie he’s more emotional and prone to lashing out but can be gentle at times. The way his speed is done is different too, whereas in DOFP it was like a quick zip and zap, here it’s like high-speed winds. Scarlet Witch is probably one of the most volatile characters in the movie, able to bend things to her whim, but also crazy and vindictive, depending on whose side she’s on. And that Goth look for her? Daaaaammmmn! With that personality and looks, that’s the kind of girl I’d like to ask out on a date.
At other times it feels like it’s more or less building up to other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe rather than trying to be its own story. The questioning of what heroes should do to protect the world is constant with Cap and Stark, which will lead to Civil War. Thor having his vision of Asgard being destroyed is thrown in there and could’ve just been saved for Thor: Ragnarok, though it does appear convenient when it causes him to help create Vision. Andy Serkis showing up as Klaw is pretty much a plot point, but it’ll probably lead into Black Panther, since that part took place in Wakanda, the home of Black Panther, and Klaw is his nemesis. And of course the end credits reveal Thanos (Josh Brolin) is finally taking matters into his own hands, leading into Infinity War. I guess that kinda speaks about the comics themselves and the movie is trying to represent how comic book story arcs can be both self-contained and lead into the next one. It’s not just one story, it’s something set within a whole universe where stuff happens all around.
The big action moments in the film are spectacular, bringing that “comic book come to life” feeling. The opening scene shows the Avengers working as a team, beating the bad guys and doing things each in their own way, but with the same end goal. The Hulk vs. Iron Man fight is destructive as it can get, though it can get excessive at times, but hey, there’s been worse (*cough*Michael Bay*cough*). And finally in the end, when they’re all “assembled” (see what I did there? lol), the slow motion on all of them destroying Ultron’s drones, focusing and showcasing their different fighting styles and being beautifully well-shot, is something to behold.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a wonderful film and a great sequel. It may not be as “big” as the first, but it holds its own. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the summer movie blockbuster fever. It leaves me excited for what’s next in the MCU and for other great movies to come.