Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Joss Whedon directs the latest film entry in the juggernaut franchise that is Marvel Comics. The sequel to 2012’s The Avengers takes place sometime after the conclusion of last year’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The movie begins with the team’s mission to find Loki’s staff, which leads them to an Eastern-European, Hydra fortress that unbeknownst to the Avengers also is home to genetically-enhanced twins, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). (Note: due to comic book rights these mutant characters have a different origin story, plus on a side note it was a bit weird to see the actors playing siblings when last year they played a married couple in Godzilla).
While the team succeeds in recovering the staff, things go awry when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) furtively decide to create Artificial Intelligence in the hopes that one day the Avengers will be able to retire to a sunny beach. The only problem, as we have learned from several similar movies, is that A.I. beings typically want to end the world. Ultron (voiced by James Spader) is an antagonist unlike that yet faced by our heroes. By way of the internet, he essentially is able to survive every assault he encounters.
The movie explores the depth and worst fears of most of the Avengers. After the Hulk is forced into thinking of his worst fear, by the mind-manipulation powers of the Scarlet Witch he goes into a rampage of unseen proportions. The chemistry between the Hulk and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is unexpected, but certainly teased in the trailer. The dynamic and strained pairing proves interesting and organic. The aftermath of the mind manipulations leave the superhero team splintered and shell-shocked.
The all-star cast also includes Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). The first Avengers movie was, at least in my opinion, the best film of the series. It provided just enough wit and action that fulfilled everything a fan-boy like me would want in a comic-book based film. Unfortunately, this sequel fails to achieve that same feat. Don’t get me wrong, this movie was good, it just wasn’t great. There were lull periods throughout the first half of the movie which slowly began to extinguish any hopes of me watching a spectacular film. Whedon did provide humorous dialogue throughout the film which is by now a staple of his work.
I never thought I would say this but there is a definite wear and tear in watching these superhero films twice every year. Part of the problem in this concept is that you risk saturating the market with a repetitive storyline. I also felt that an A.I. hell-bent on destroying humanity, as a means “to save us,” is a hackneyed plot and something too similar to the Terminator series (of which I saw the trailer for that series’ latest sequel).
Ultimately, while not as memorable as the original this film merits a viewing at the theaters. I say skip the 3D showings. Avengers: Age of Ultron is a film which basically sets up the conclusion of the Avengers films (Avengers: The Infinity Wars Part 1 & 2). It incorporates different aspects from all its Marvel predecessors, so I’d say you’d want to have seen most if not all of them to have any semblance of what is going on. Lastly, remember to taper your expectations.
*There is only one short clip post the acting credits.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (intense sequences of violence, sci-fi action and destruction, and for some suggestive comments)
Running Time: 141 minutes
My Grade: B
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