Verdict: 3.5 / 5
The Avengers take on an enemy more powerful than they could have ever imagined, Ultron. Be prepared to be thrown into the middle of a battle like no other and get ready for the next chapter of the Marvel Universe to unfold. Avengers: Age of Ultron paves the path for Marvel’s future releases. The big question is; will humanity have a future?
Warning: Minor Spoilers ahead!
Joss Whedon throws us in the middle of a battle with Baron Strucker and his Hydra cronies. The Avengers attempt to claim the sceptre that belonged to Loki in the first film. Tony uses this battle to test his latest project, The Iron Legion, a group of programmed Iron Men that serve and protect the public. But the team crosses paths with the twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (meta-humans with powers beyond belief). Scarlet Witch sees Tony’s future and lets him believe that he retrieved the sceptre, but his naivety blinds him to the truth – the sceptre will bring about the apocalypse.
As expected, there is no involvement from Ant-man’s Hank Pym – so Tony did not base his Iron Legion, or Ultron, on his failed designs. Instead, the plot involves Loki’s Sceptre, which is actually an advanced alien A.I. Stark desires to use in order to create the ultimate protector of Earth. His Ultron project ultimately stems from a desire to end the Avengers’ participation in global threats. After convincing Banner to help him, they try to merge Jarvis with advanced A.I. but fail miserably and create a fully sentient robot whose only desire is to bring about the evolution of humanity. Ultron is born.
This new take on Ultron is clever and definitely one that regular movie-goers can believe. Ultron being too robotic was a topic of concern, but James Spader does a great job of bringing the character to life. He is very human – to the point that he only really needs a newly evolved techno-organic body. He is also witty and has a dark sense of humor. While this creates great entertainment, it also hampers the true dangerous nature of Ultron. He almost feels like a Loki 2.0 and as a viewer, you are not afraid of him. In fact, you might like him the most.
Another great move was to give the “more human” Avengers more screentime. We get to see Black Widow as a very vulnerable and loving person that is haunted by her eerie past. She struggles to see herself as a hero, especially after committing villainous acts.
Hawkeye gets some decent camera time too. Without spoiling too much, he has a surprise that will shock all, including his fellow members. He becomes more likeable by showing his human side and the goodness of humanity. He is not only motivating, but Barton also manages to sneak in a few jokes as well, getting a little closer to the true character of Hawkeye.
Mark Ruffalo also does a great job of displaying how Bruce Banner is mentally affected by his other greener side. He and Black Widow share a mutual attraction that adds to the film. They both struggle to accept who and what they are and this brings them closer, adding meaning and depth to their potential romantic relationship.
There is still too much focus placed on Tony who, despite seeing the error of his ways in Iron Man 3, has reverted back to his careless and selfish nature. Yes, his ego has won again. Sure, Iron Man sells but this is the Avengers. It is about teamwork. Downey does the exact same job he always does; boost his ego with sarcasm and narcissism, rendering the whole journey of self-discovery in Iron Man 3 pointless. Even his jokes are now predictable and feel forced.
Another cop out is that the film formula is almost a reversed version of the first Avengers film. Everyone gets a mind warp, except for Hawkeye (if you remember, last time he was the only one suffering under mind manipulation). Then Hulk also has a brief moment with Ultron that reminds you of what transpired between him and Loki in the first movie. These events were too predictable and, although they are not cataclysmic failures, still feels like a cheap throwback.
The action scenes are amazing. There is so much happening at the same time, yet it is kept clear and easy to follow. The amount of tag team takedowns will please the fans and a real focus was placed on each characters abilities. They display their talents with sheer excellence. You are also not limited to robot battles. The Avengers take on Hydra, mutants, mercenaries and fellow team members, as they battle in Johannesburg (which is apparently within walking distance of the African Coast).
Expect loads of cameos and name dropping in this one. Pay close attention when going into this movie. It is setting up for the greater events of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And this intergalactic event is starting to look a lot closer than we think. This, unfortunately, also gives Avengers 2 the feeling that it is just a cog in the machine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The story is choppy in parts. Scenes seem to shift far too quickly and this is not limited to battles only, but character interactions as well. It does not have the same flow that the first movie, or last year’s hit Guardians of the Galaxy, had. This definitely hampered the story that was being told, but with so much happening in the space of 150 minutes, you can expect the story to falter slightly. There is simply not enough time to let everything play out to their full potential. However, this is still a great film worth every cent the cinema will be taking from you.
Go and see Avengers: Age of Ultron. Do yourself a favour and make sure you watch it on the big screen. The action scenes are breathtaking but do not expect the childlike wonder that the first film left you with. Had a little time been taken to tweak the script and scenes followed each other smoothly, Avengers: Age of Ultron would have been as great as its predecessor.