After waiting what seemed like an eternity for the 2nd coming of the Avengers, the Age of Ultron is finally upon us and it was worth the wait.
I did not see the first film in theaters and I don’t feel that I missed out on anything. I’ve since watched it at least 3 times and own the Blu-ray, so I’m obviously fond of it. Yet, when compared to Age of Ultron, it doesn’t seem to be nearly as impressive and here are some of my thoughts as to why…
What Is It About?
I wanted to show this trailer to give everyone who hasn’t seen it a better glimpse at what the movie is about without ruining everything. (trailers #2 and #3 seem to give too many glimpses to what you can expect from the film etc.) *Side note, this trailer is one of the better trailers in a long while because of its use of lyrics and music to set the upcoming movie’s tone.
We’re thrown back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the Avengers picking up roughly not too long after where Winter Soldier left us, protecting the planet by seeking out and hunting down the last remaining remnants of SHIELD/HYDRA. After defeating their most recent encounter of some HYDRA thugs, the Avengers find time to celebrate said victory only to be thrust back into conflict with something that they had a hand in creating. Ultron, an advanced Artificial Intelligence, has come to life, and with his birth he brings forth the imminent extinction of the human race. It’s up to the World’s Mightiest Heroes to band together and vanquish this new threat before Ultron rips them apart from the inside out.
Why It Worked
They’ve Already Assembled
With the abundance of superhero movies at our disposal nowadays, it’s great to be able to watch one that doesn’t deal with new origin stories or starting from scratch. Half the reason Captain America: Winter Soldier worked so well is due largely in part because they didn’t have to tell Steve Rodger’s story all over again. The audience already knows who the key players are and now have the chance to watch those personalities develop into something more than just superheroes. We get history/back-stories and more personal details about some of the Avengers that we had nothing on before (I’m looking at you Black Widow) that really help to bring them down to another level for the audience to dig into. On top of further character development you come to realize that the Avengers are like a well oiled machine. Each Avenger is awesome on their own but they work even better when paired with other teammates – presenting the idea of how the group is stronger as a whole. (see in particular how Captain America and Thor take on baddies)
By the way – Hawkeye finally gets some love this time around more so than you might think. I’d delve into it but I’m doing my best to keep this spoiler free.
Comedy Is Key
The first Avengers outing had it’s moments of comedic brilliance, but the Avengers: Age of Ultron out shines its predecessor with a plethora of comedic one-liners and quips. Even during outrageous battle sequences Joss Whedon (the director for those not in the know) is able to sprinkle in just the right amount of “fun” in order to keep the movie from ever becoming too heavy. From cast cameos and hilarious and well-written banter between key figures, I found myself laughing more than I would’ve thought I could during a comic book movie. It’s something that helps to define the Marvel approach when comparing it to what DC seem to be doing with their respective entities. Sure a serious tone works (Nolan’s Batman trilogy) but sometimes too much brooding and darkness overwhelm the experience and keeps the audience from actually having fun at the movies. When it was over, I walked out of this film grinning ear to ear because of that simple point – it was FUN!
(case in point – watch the video below … it doesn’t ruin anything I promise)
Well Sequenced Action
Do comic book movies have plenty of action? Sure. Do they have too much action? Sometimes. Part of what turned me off from the first Avengers was the explosion of action from one scene to the next. So much that by the time the last fight came around my patience was wavering. Maybe it was due to me not knowing what to expect but it felt like it was just one long explosion after another. This time around I felt that Joss really wanted to explore a lot of different facets in the Marvel lore and not just give us the eyegasms we endured from the first outing. Not that those eyegasms were bad, that’s not what I’m trying to illustrate. What I mean is that the action sequences seemed to be placed at the right moments and were strung out for the right amount of time in order to pick up the pacing without letting the movie drag. It never prompted me to want a break or to glance at my watch. The action sequences were also quite interesting and unique compared to some of the other Marvel movies we’ve seen lately. The brawl between Iron Man and the Hulk was a particular favorite of mine – one that I can’t wait to see again. (for example We’ve seen Iron Man in 4 different films up to this point and just when you think you’ve seen every trick up Tony Stark’s sleeve, think again)
Watching the first trailer with Ultron’s voiceover I felt like he was going to be more on the robotic side than human. That was all torn away with our first 10 minutes with him because not only does he act human, he almost has lips which gives the “robot/android/artificial intelligence thing” a whole other dimension. One that I wasn’t expecting and at first was turned off by, but as the movie rolled on, I found myself enjoying him as a character more and more. Mainly because the voice talent behind Ultron (James Spader) was the perfect selection for it. There are times where he’s clever/witty and at other times completely sinister which all seemed to blend effortlessly within the context of what made up Ultron. If you have seen the show the Blacklist, then I’m guessing you might have an idea of what you’re getting into with Ultron. Granted I wish we could’ve had more time with the new Avengers villain, but with so many characters having to share the screen I think they did the best they could.
Why It Might Not Work
I’m going to spare you any images for this section because frankly I don’t have a lot to nit pick here. (surprising I know)
Too Many People Involved
So, I think my biggest complaint would be that while it’s fun to see so many people involved in a movie, it gets a tad bit overwhelming at times and some characters take a hit and lose focus within the narrative. It becomes increasingly frustrating when they introduce new members (aka Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver – though they never call either one of them that) to the franchise that is already teeming with plenty of main and supporting talent. For example, Thor only had roughly 14 minutes of screen time – that’s about 6 minutes shy of Vision, and he wasn’t in most of the film until the last battle sequence. (I’d also mention other characters that didn’t get near enough screen time but for the sake of ruining anything I’ll just say that there were at least 2 more that I could point out that were cut short or were left with too many questions as to who they were or why they were involved…)
Thor’s Weak Tie-In to Infinity Wars/Thanos
Speaking of the God of Thunder … Thor has a little mind trip event and I’m not sure what we’re meant to take from it. Maybe it’s partly due to the bad editing of these “mind trip” segments or the fact that Thor goes off with his doctor friend to find a pool on the planet Earth that seems to have magical powers … but none of his little sub-plot seems to stack up and make much sense. Ya know why? BECAUSE WE DON’T HARDLY SEE THOR OR WHATEVER HE’S DOING!? (and don’t even get me started on when Thor just happens to show up out of nowhere and knows exactly what to do with a certain coffin shaped box) Again, this ruins absolutely nothing because unless you’ve been living under a rock – you should already know that the Infinity Wars along with the “mega baddie” Thanos are coming in the near future. (*hint – stay for about 3 mins into the end credits to get another look at Thanos – no big shocker there)
Scar-Jo <3 Big Green?
Was this even necessary? Did it help push the plot further (within this movie) in any way? No, probably not. While watching the film it honestly never bothered me but I don’t recall a single comic (that I’ve read mind you) that ever had Black Widow and the Hulk becoming anything but friends or even contemplating it. I get the motive behind it, and how they tried to use the relationship part of it to blend themes together within the film’s many layers, but it felt forced. This is largely because there was nothing hinting to this from the first film and it just seemed like a new idea that happened to be use as a plot device more than anything else to help with upcoming film possibilities. (this might not be to any fault of the director or writers but more so on Disney/Marvel making sure they milk their mega cash cow for everything they can)
As with any big blockbuster money maker, there happen to always be holes that people will point out and make into much more of an issue than they need to be. I’m typically no exception to this rule but because I had so much fun with this movie I think I’ll just say this. Are there plot holes? Yep, there sure are! (the internet and Ultron) Will they ruin the overall fun and experience you have with this film? Nope, none whatsoever. If you end up focusing more on the plot holes then you have my pity and you need to lighten up. It is, in fact, a comic book movie, and comic books by nature have many holes in their stories that no one seems as quick to point out as they do with counterpart films.
Jeeze Lucas – Wrap It Up!
When it’s all said and done I had a blast with this movie. There were moments that caught me completely off guard, there were moments I felt my jaw starting to get sore from smiling too much and there were even emotional moments that were touching more than I could’ve expected out of a comic book movie. When you consider all that, it’s pretty clear that I had a one helluva time at the cinema. It was the first time in a long time that I would’ve been up for jumping right back in line to sit through it all again in the same night.