I’d like to start this review with a question: Can an Avengers film be bad? Marvel Studios has set the bar so high with the last Avengers film and all it’s previous comic book adaptations that it seems impossible to not let people down with round two of this super hero slugfest. Marvel has managed to give us both quantity AND quality with each of it’s films, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron looks to continue this trend. How did it do? Damn good, if you ask me. Read on:
Joss Whedon, returning to the directors chair from the first Avengers, starts this flick off by giving us exactly what we want. We catch the Avengers mid mission kicking all kinds of ass on the hunt for the remnants of Hydra. From there we head off to Avengers Tower (formerly Stark Tower) where Tony Stark decides the Avengers aren’t enough to keep the world safe. He needs to act now to shield the world from all threats permanently. With the help of Bruce Banner he creates Ultron. Unfortunately Ultron’s peacekeeping protocols work a little too well. He decides the only way to make the world safe is with humanities extinction. You could see how that’d rub the Avengers the wrong way. The rest of the flick is spent watching the team chase down Ultron and save the world from his heinous schemes. That’s not to say, however, that things get predictable or boring as with so many other films with heavy chase elements. Along the way we get exciting action set pieces, witty and clever dialogue, and character moments that allow each Avenger to shine in ways they never did even in their solo films. All that builds up to the introduction of the newest Avenger, The Vision (Paul Bettany) and a final action extravaganza that’s so exciting I found myself nearly jumping out of my seat in a giddy, childlike fit of joy. This film is truly a comic book come to life.
While this film has action in spades I found myself most content whenever the characters were able to just co-exist in more dialogue, quieter moments. There’s a scene where, while sitting around a table enjoying a few drinks, each member attempts to lift Thor’s hammer. In those moments we get to see the camaraderie between the Avengers without a single punch needing to be thrown. This, along with a small number of scenes like it, allow for each character to have a depth of being that would be missing if this was only a series of big action moments sewn together. Oh and speaking of character Hawkeye is finally a fully fledged character this time around. In the first film Clint Barton was little more than set decoration. In Age of Ultron he is, perhaps, one of the most important members of the team. It’s very refreshing to see a background character imbued with the same three dimensionality as every other member on the team. Now rather than being indifferent to the character I genuinely look forward to his next outing with the team.
As this is a film review and critique I can’t simply be overly gushing with my praise. This isn’t a perfect film. It’s a very full film. There’s a lot going on, maybe even too much at times. The build up and introduction to Ultron does feel rushed and while James Spader gives an eye popping performance as the mechanical menace I never felt like the character got a full enough character arc. There were hints and moments where you could read into something more from Ultron, but as you’ve got so many things going at the same time somethings gotta fall through the cracks. Same could be said of the Twins, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). I would have liked to have gotten to know who they were more. Their dialogue and interactions with the other characters in the film were great, and any time they got to show off their powers was exciting, but we didn’t get to really know them. I guess that’s what sequels are for.
As I said earlier in this review Marvel gives us both quantity and quality and this film fits right in with all the rest of their output. I can’t recommend this film highly enough. The entertainment value in this film is relentless. I had fun start to finish and could have happily sat through the whole thing over again immediately after the credits started rolling. In a film like the Avengers fun is what you want, and fun is most definitely what you’re going to get.