written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Hands down the most anticipated superhero flick of the summer, the second assembling of Marvel Studios’ biggest heroes. Avengers: Age of Ultron takes the best of intentions and twists them to disastrous results. Looking to create a preventive measure for any future galactic invasions, Avenger Tower’s resident Science Bros develop Ultron to act as a shield for humanity, an end game to eventually give up the fight and to live out a normal life. This, of course, doesn't turn out as expected and good intentions turn to ruin when a now sentient and self aware Ultron deems humanity isn’t worth saving and instead turns to extinction.
The Avenger’s films are ensemble movies, and unlike the first film that seemed to center mostly around Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Cap (Chris Evans), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth)… the rest of the Avengers play equal and important roles in the coming battle. While seeing more screen time from both Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansen) was appreciated, it was Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) that left me the most pleased. As a fan of the character, I was let down by his incredibly limited role in Thor and when we finally get to see him with the rest of the Avengers, he spends most of the movie under Loki’s spell. This wasn’t the case in Age of Ultron, we get treated to Clint Barton in all his snarky ass glory.
Joining the cast from the first Avengers flick are the two “mutants,” the Maximoff twins Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) who we first saw in the bonus scene from Captain America: Winter Soldier. Though because of contractual obligations and the fact that FOX owns the rights to all X-series of characters, they couldn’t outright call the duo “mutants” or reference their metal-bending father. This turned out to be a nonissue and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the movie, though I will say that Quicksilver was cooler in Days of Future Past. The biggest surprise was how much I enjoyed their take on Vision (Paul Bettany), though Bethany isn't new to Marvel studios, having voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. (Tony Stark’s A.I. while wearing the Iron Man armor) from the first Iron Man film, the character is given new life as Vision, I won’t go into any spoiler heavy details on how J.A.R.V.I.S. becomes Vision, but it definitely stole the show… much like how amazing Hulk was during the last half-hour of Avengers.
I feel like a review about Age of Ultron wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the big baddie himself. Superhero flicks are defined by their villains, a good villain in a superhero movie is like an unstoppable force hitting and immovable object. Ultron (James Spader) is that villain, this movie version of Ultron is equal parts homicidal megalomaniac and sarcastic ass. It’s like the guy that stabs you while telling a joke, James Spader’s portrayal was brilliant. It’s like the man’s voice was made to be Ultron, his deliver hit on so many levels; he was the kind of villain you loved and hated. Even when dealing out all manner of devastation, I had to contain my laughter when he began to sing “I’ve Got No Strings” from Pinocchio.
Though making a brief appearance, Andy Serkis brought to life the first official MCU portrayal of Ulysses Klau… still with his right hand. No doubt this is just the teaser for the character to officially make his villain debut in Black Panther as the the murderous master of sound Klaw. Along with Klaw, a few familiar faces from Iron Man's, Cap's, and Thor's standalone films also make brief cameos... suffice it to say, there is alot of superhero action.
This was truly a global movie, unlike Avengers that took place primarily in the US with the final battle leveling Manhattan, Age of Ultron gives the viewer a truly global look at the Avengers. From a high speed chase in Seoul, South Korea to Hulk and Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armor leveling a section of Johannesburg, South Africa the action was very far from home most of the picture. While I appreciated the global outlook, my one complaint has to be pacing. Unlike the first Avengers movie which clearly took place in three distinct acts, Age of Ultron was like dropping the last half-hour of Avengers into various worldly locales for the entirety of the picture. While I’m sure in future watchings I won’t be quite as critical, but based on my initial viewing… I wished they fleshed out some of the new characters more, especially the Maximoff twins.
Avengers: Age of Ultron marks Joss Whedon’s second and last Marvel picture, and with the next Avengers flick handed to the brilliant directorial duo of Captain America: Winter Soldier (the Russo brothers) it’s safe to say the Avengers brand will be in good hands. Age of Ultron was pure sequel material in every sense of the word; everything was bigger, louder, and flashier. This isn’t always a good thing though, while I did enjoy it, I can’t help but feel that it lacked the nuance that was present in the first film. I guess the best way I can describe Age of Ultron is a collection of great moments that came together to make just a good movie. This wasn’t 2012’s Avengers, while fun I was hoping for more from Marvel’s big Summer blockbuster.