MARVEL’s Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olson, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie and featuring the voice talent of James Spader
Based on the comic books made by: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Written for the screen and directed by: Joss Whedon
IMDb Score: 7.7
Metacritic Score: 66
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 74%

Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments.

I, like many others, loved the original Marvel’s The Avengers. Yes, it’s a funny film. Yes, it gives each character enough time to give the audience a feeling towards the characters. Yes, it has great action. Yes, it has great movie set pieces. But for me, all are true but I add two more: It has several “movie magic” moments, such as the spin around shot showing the characters together and the “I’m Always Angry” scene that to this day I still yell “That’s so fucking awesome!”

The other: the film is quite possibly the best testament of what the Avengers and comic team ups are like. Avengers, team-ups, comic arcs: they are full fledged events. Whether it’s the Dark Phoenix Saga or Civil War, these aren’t just a story line, they are touchstones in the memories of the people who loved the medium.

That’s what The Avengers felt like and still feels like to this day: it isn’t just a movie, it isn’t just a comic book movie: It is a movie that is guffawed and beloved for giving a great buildup and ending it with a resounding, mind blowing end.

For some, it’s Back to the Future, Terminator 2, The Breakfast Club, The Matrix (at one point): these weren’t just films. They were shared experiences with friends, loved ones and people you wish to include in a sort of club. They were films that you watched and said “THAT’S WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS!”

I have been an unapologetic Avengers lover. So much so, I believe Marvel’s The Avengers is one of the best films in the past 20 years and it’s my favorite action and comic book adaptation movie.

So, with that build up, it’s time to give the letdown early: Age of Ultron doesn’t match the original. Was it supposed to? Not really. So, how exactly is the sequel?

After taking out a Hydra outpost, Tony Stark (Downey Jr) finds out that Loki’s scepter holds unbelievable artificial intelligence. However, when creating his and Bruce Banner’s (Ruffalo) dream project Ultron (voiced by Spader), he accidentally created a machine that is intent in destroying the entire planet for the good of the people of the planet. Amidst much infighting between The Avengers, they need to find a way to put a stop to Ultron.

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Age of Ultron is a movie that takes the formula most of it’s movies have created. except for the hero origin part, and continues the formula in the same arc as a comic. Meaning: New bad guy, bigger threat. Essentially, the movie’s rating can correlate to how much you like the whole Marvel Cinematic Universe (including it’s TV shows like Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D).

As for me: I’m a fan of Agents, a big fan of Agent Carter and as for the movies, the best three are The AvengersIron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s serviceable. To elaborate further, you will enjoy exactly as much as you have enjoyed these movies in the past. It will not, however, change your mind.

This is particularly true when it comes to its comic trappings. This movie seems to want to just bombard you with new characters that were merely side characters or after movie specials in the other movies. Falcon (Mackie), War Machine (Cheadle), Quicksilver (Taylor Johnson), Scarlet Witch (Olsen), Vision (Bethany) seem to be the main attraction to the film.

This need to bringing more characters isn’t a problem to someone who is well versed in not only the films, but also in the comics. If you’ve missed ONE of the movies, or you just weren’t a comic book fan, you are lost with who they are and what their purpose is with the Avengers (or if they are an Avenger). There is literally no backstory or small introduction or complimentary piece to explain these characters. Even the new characters (The Maximoff twins as they are called, not Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch) are barely given any depth to add when it comes to making their characters likable or wanting to see them again.

Ultron, however, is a different story, who is deliciously voiced by James Spader. Spader’s vibrato like voice and his darkly humorous take on the villain is a great addition, mainly because he brings an almost classical villain bravado that is sort of like what Tom Hiddleston brought as Loki. What makes him a better villain from Loki is this sense of darkness and foreboding he gives the film.

At no point would you ever feel like Loki is to be feared, which is scepter and horned costume didn’t help him much. With Ultron, the first moment he’s represented, you know full well that he is a fearful and destructive opponent.

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Let’s tie this back to the heroes for a second. Clearly, Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk are the favorites, but why did the most character depth in this movie go to…Hawkeye? As a plot device in itself, his scenes made to deepen the character straight slows the film down to a screeching halt. This hinders the pace of the film by a great amount.

That’s not saying that the movie has to be driving 120mph just to be good, but you slow down at a pace. Seeing Captain America chop wood? Nah, I don’t think that’s needed. The fairly obvious love story between two of the characters? Kind of pointless (unless of course, it’s building to another film).

The original Avengers did a fantastic job of keeping things fast while providing the needed amount of pace that was necessary; Age of Ultron takes some real hard turns from going to action to character arcs.

Honestly, the reason why it’s that distracting is because you learn literally nothing about the new characters. Since it seems that Marvel will be adding more nuance to it’s characters in the films for the characters themselves, Avengers: Age of Ultron provides no depth or different traits for the main heroes. Literally every character is exactly where they left it.

As for the action, it hits the same beats really. Beginning action sequence, followed by a first surprise attack, then an absolute drubbing, regroup, then come back to save the day. That said, the movie is quite pleasant to the eyes and ears. Fights are incredibly destructive and beautiful, filled with excellent fight choreography. The booms and explosions are crisply done with an excellent audio mix.

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In all, Age of Ultron seems like a filler to a next phase. Even as a fan of who MCU, I did not feel as if this closed a door or opened up a new intent for the universe to go through next. With exception to Spader and the fight scenes, the movie is basically middle of the road, but watchable. If you are a fan of the previous films.

Otherwise, you can pass it.

3/5 – It hits the important beats just right, but the rest is a miss.

The Wiz Says #39

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