When Joss Whedon directed “The Avengers” back in 2012, he basically had to do the impossible, take characters from five Marvel films and make a mega-blockbuster-superhero-team-summer movie that would live up to both fan and non-fan expectations. One-billon dollars later. That’s right One-Billion Dollars, it was pretty much etched in stone that he would write and direct “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. So after some pretty good Thor and Iron Man sequels and a fantastic Captain America follow-up Whedon and his team are trying to make it two-for-two. Though I don’t anticipate this being the biggest movie of the year, that honor will probably be that movie with the laser swords and droids, “Age of Ultron” will certainly live up to it’s summer blockbuster status.
We catch up to our favorite ‘Earth’s mightiest heroes’ doing what they do best, taking down bad guys, and boy do they hit the ground running. Trying to recapture Loki’s scepter which I guess they lost sometime between the first film and this one, or maybe you have to be watching “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” to get more information. I stopped after season one. So the team is now working together better than ever, and throwing the quipy Whedon-esque dialogue faster than Cap’s vibranium shield. They briefly encounter two new mutants, but since 20th Century Fox says they can’t call them mutants they are the “enhanced” brother and sister Pierto and Wanda Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). After a successful mission the team is celebrating when a A.I. life-form called Ultron (James Spader) created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) comes to life and as any movie A.I. does, quickly decides upon the utter destruction of mankind. Now it is up to The Avengers to save the day once again. But as tension builds up and secrets are revealed will the team come together or be torn apart?
The only bad thing I can honestly say about “Age of Ultron” is that it is a very busy movie, even at a 2 hr. and 30 min running time it feels rushed. When they are not fighting bad guys, they are talking fast and quickly moving on to the next thing, then action begins again. You are reminded that you are watching superhuman beings who move so fast even the CGI has trouble keeping up.
Now as far as the good, well, this movie is so friggin’ awesome! I loved watching the character interactions, the in-jokes, there is a great highway chase, and everyone gets their time to shine. There is less Cap, Thor, and Iron Man, since they got their own movies to center on them, there are a few nice Hulk and Black Widow scenes. Spader as Ultron is not as complex a villain as Loki, but comes in at a really close second. My favorite by far though was the attention paid to Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), he not only gets some great moments, but a decent arc as well, mostly centered on being a regular man fighting alongside gods and monsters.
I probably have to get in another viewing of it to form a final opinion, but I still might feel that the first “Avengers” is more enjoyable overall. After all who doesn’t love the courting phase. This time around everyone is more comfortable with their characters, so it moves right along, and Whedon does a good job at cramming in a lot of story and set-up while not making it feel too forced. He is also aware enough to know that his turn on this Marvel ride may be at an end, and he goes out with big fun, impressive action, and epic geek-moments that will thrill the hardcore fans, plus he proves that the Marvel Studios hot streak continues. And as always, stay for that post-credits scene, the biggest and hopefully best yet to come.
–Robert L. Castillo