‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Is More Of The Same But Still A Fun Ride

Apr 26, 2015

 

There’s no mistaking this is an MCU film, but I think Whedon focused way too much on the spectacle than we’ve seen in other recent successful installments like Guardians of The Galaxy, Winter Soldier, and even Daredevil, these three projects have been mostly focused on a character driven story. The bar post-Avengers has seeming been met and matched by a various amount of different creatives at Marvel. It’s a good movie, but it doesn’t seem to out do the other recent Marvel projects and felt to me more of the same. It doesn’t one-up what we’ve seen before which I think many are expecting it to do, in that regard you’ll be let down. There is some character stuff, but it’s mostly centred around Tony and everyone else is stuck with scraps.

Age of Ultron’s dark tone is widely thrown out of focus when it’s cold robotic villain Ultron is trying to make his own jokes which seem out of place for the character and jarring at times. I get it, everyone has to be cool in a Whedon script but consistency and menace with a CGI character would have been nice, at times it felt they were fighting James Spader not Ultron which to me could because he’s rushed so he can show-up within the first act. I did get a bit of a Transformers vibe rather than a Terminator from the villain, make of that as you will but I don’t doubt that was on purpose.

I also get that Civil War seeds need to be planted but there are a couple moments in the film where I get a feeling it’s going the Iron Man 2 route, and it’s existence is to setup other films and characters, instead of being a single serving story. I think with the original Avengers it didn’t need to do that, but as we’ve seen it’s tempting to setup all these future films in a movie that will likely get the most attention from audiences.

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As per usual Thor is the major after thought of the film, and is basically only here to help setup Thor: Ragnarok which was slightly disappointing to me since he’s one of the only characters I think Marvel hasn’t really figured out yet. He has some cool moments in the film, but every character get’s a cool moment so that’s not saying much.

Tony Stark is in full prick mode, and it’s really never explained why he came out of retirement from Iron Man 3, people have pointed out that it seemed like Joss had sort of retconned that ending a bit. Considering how connected these films are it’s odd that plot point was never really addressed. I get the impression he’s going to make one hell of a villain next year, and I think that Tony could be such a venomous dude now that he’s more concerned with fighting an invasion in Infinity War his drive to protect the Earth is going ruin a lot of lives soon.

I think it was an intentional choice for Cap to become the standout hero of the film, with Civil War looming they need to set him up as the righteous figure in the MCU, I also love his moments when Steve get’s to relax and have fun. Joss really didn’t play around with the man-out-of-time stuff here too much, but I guess that was sort done with Winter Soldier.

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Black Widow finally get’s the kind of screen presence we’ve been waiting for ages, her heartbreaking backstory is slightly explored and even if they didn’t have the best chemistry I did like how they tired to pair her up with another hero. I’m curious if they’ll now give Natasha a bit more room to humanize her a little more.

Banner is fine, but doesn’t really challenge Stark the way he should be in the film when you’d expect his character to be a bit more on the side of caution. Hulk scenes were great and they leave the door open for other avenues with green guy which is nice for fans, but I’m sure others will be disappointed in a couple of things they do here.

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Hawkeye was of course given more screentime but I don’t actually think he’s able to be on the equal footing of those other heroes, he’s given more character moments but ultimately feels out of place alongside the other members of team. He’ll likely be back for Civil War, but I’m really not holding my breath for a solo film and without exploring his other alter egos like Goliath and Ronin, Marvel is really missing out on expanding on Barton’s potential, they could give him superpowers they just have chosen not to.

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Wasn’t a huge fan of Quicksilver and wasn’t entirely on board with their approach to him, although, I did like Scarlet Witch and how they allowed her powers to evolve a bit. I’m not entirely sure when it’s explained that Quicksilver can punch solid metal without breaking his hands. I’m sort of glad that Olsen will be apart of Civil War, because only having Widow would have been such a let down. I’m extremely interested to see if they’ll increase her powers by the time we see her next, it does feel like she was holding stuff back. Again, another character with cool moments but obviously could be explored in more detail in the future.

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I’ll overlook his haphazard and rushed origin, because the Vision did shine with whatever limited screen time he managed to get in this bloated superhero film. J.A.V.R.I.S. has been with us since Iron Man, so it’s not hard to accept him as one of the team since he’s sort of the MCU legacy character you want to root for now that Agent Coulson is busy being a zombie on television. They sort of tease that relationship with Scarlet Witch, and I’m sure we’ll see that in Civil War or Infinity War, I’m genuinely interested in seeing those two develop in future films.

His character design as faithful it might be, was out of place in a film like this and had a Guardians feel to it, with reason. Apparently he can make a cape appear out of thin air, not sure if that’s a android thing or part of his powers. I do like how they made such a point to have his origins come from all different sources within the MCU, not just Stark.

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Some characters like Maria Hill and Dr. Helen Cho had more busy work than actual character development in their scenes. It’s actually a shame with a movie that has so many female characters it manages to still fail the Bechdel Test, something you’d think self-proclaimed feminist Joss Wheodn would have been mindful of, there’s where that exhaustion becomes problematic.

The Bechdel Test asks three simple questions, are there more than one female character, do they speak to each other, and is this conversation about something other than a man?

You’d actually be shocked to learn there are five ladies in this film and I don’t even remember them speaking to each other, let alone having a conversation. Considering Whedon wrote the script that kind of falls on his shoulders as a filmmaker and it’s a bit sad this was the thing that get’s overlooked, since he’s been considered such a champion of female characters. Then again, most films don’t pass the test which include most of the Marvel films.

 

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The opening sequence did feel a lot like something out of a Bond film, but without being too much of a parody. Having them working as team since they were going to break them down later seemed like one of the better choices in the film, showing what they’re capable of when they’re not bickering. I sort of wished there were more scenes with villains in frame like the HYDRA soldiers from this opening, because it did give more of a sense of threat even if they were having their asses handed to them. Strucker was actually not what I was expecting and fans of the villain are not going to be happy.

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I actually really dug the scenes with Andy Serkis’ Klaw and actually overshadowed Ultron with his own menace. I’m dying to see him return for Black Panther, and he could be such a great recurring villain if that’s there ultimate plan for Klaw, I’m a bit concerned Marvel’s been on a mission to kill-off most of their villains and hope they let Serkis stick around longer than others. The connections to Wakanda were ace, and I felt like that’s a moment where they were setting-up another film but it didn’t feel forced. Now I kind of want an entire movie telling his backstory, which will likely happen with Black Panther, good on you Marvel!

There was a nice mix of mercenaries and ultron bots in the shipyard fight.

Hulk fighting Hulkbuster is indeed a highlight of the film, and is more important for future setup than anything else. I think it looked great, and it’s sort of the brawl you’re kind of wanting to see go down in Civil War.

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I’m not a big fan of highway action scenes since Michael Bay has done them to death, and they’ve sort of lost their magic. The sequence shot in South Korea is actually pretty badass and let’s Cap shine a bit more. This seems like a better use of the ultron bots who eventually become as threatening as a cloud of nats in the final fight.

Honestly, I am bored to death with these blockbuster movies using hordes of lifeless CGI constructs, I was afraid that the ultron bots would be just as non-threatening as the Chitauri and they were. Some characters who aren’t revealed to have super strength are ripping and punching these metal bots to pieces with their bare hands. This final action sequence went on for way to long, basically, it felt like a recycled/repurposed version of the battle of New York.

I do agree they do a slightly better job handling a huge civilian threat better than Man of Steel, but it’s almost just as bad them not trying something different with the final action scene, instead doing what worked before but amping it up with a bigger horde of empty canon-fodder and extending it’s running time by twenty minutes. There will be plenty of people that will eat this up, but it felt like they were trying over compensate from criticism Avengers didn’t have more action set pieces. This movie has plenty, I just think they end-up eating too much time which could have been spent with a bit more character moments, we have four or five new characters that don’t get the kind of attention needed because of this.

A highlight of the film was the varied locations they filmed, Italy standing-in for Eastern Europe, Korea and South Africa were used in the right kind of way, and I hope to see more international shooting in the future. I know that Civil War, might be suck in the States, but I’m hoping to see an international flare with Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and even The Inhumans.

I hate that people have been saying there are too many superhero movies lately, I think it’s more about these movies being almost exactly the same. I did get the impression there were a couple of moments, mainly the final battle, that did feel like it was a redressed version of the battle of New York. While there was enough compelling new additions to seem slightly fresh at times.

It’s not a terrible film by any means, but also doesn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel like other Marvel films have done, I think it’s wildly entertaining at spots but also gets tedious at the same time. There are some great character moments but a bunch missing, and I had wished the gals got to talk to each other. I’d totally recommend it, and I’m sure people will see this multiple times no matter what.

B

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