After much anticipation and hype, Avengers: Age of Ultron has finally been released and consumed by yours truly. A sequel of epic proportions, overall I loved the movie and thought it was a fantastic compliment to the series of Marvel movies leading up to it. There were a few minor things that I didn’t absolutely love, but they weren’t bad and didn’t detract from the movie as a whole. Let’s get specific in our Avengers: Age of Ultron review.
The opening scene. Epic. Whedon skipped the foreplay entirely in A2, perhaps thinking folks would be double-featuring or having the most epic movie marathon in the history of the world, but we dive right into the thick of a battle scene where the Avengers are trying to rescue Loki’s scepter. The action was intense, obviously CG at moments, and it took on a Transformers-esque shooting style where there is so much action and so much movement while the camera jumps back and forth from each character so quickly while bouncing around all nimbly bimbly that it’s tough to even decipher what’s actually happening. The Cap is riding his motorcycle, cut to Hawkeye shooting stuff, Hulk is smashing, and bodies are flying all over everywhere. It wasn’t too much on a whole, but I felt like my brain was a second behind in processing and by the time I registered what was going on, the camera had already jumped to the next guy doing something crazy. Again, not terrible and didn’t detract from the movie, the epic opening fight scene was great to draw the audience in right away and give more time for the good stuff for the rest of the movie, but it was a little messy. Also, the epic-ness of that slow cut with the whole team was awesome but I felt like the magic had kind of been spent with that being one of the main scenes released. I didn’t feel that way about any other part of the movie, just that shot had the feeling of being SPECTACULAR, but I’d already seen it so much it wasn’t as jaw dropping and I was slightly saddened.
Ultron was beautiful. He was everything you could want in an Ultron and more. The mannerisms and attitude he inherited from Stark were spot on and were done in such a skillful manner it gave depth to Ultron, Stark, and eventually Vision. The father/son or mentor/protégé relationship between Ultron and Stark really separated Ultron from the standard bad guy motivations of wanting to take over or destroy the world. Similar outcome but the motives and Ultron’s beginnings were fresh and thoroughly enjoyable to watch unfold on the screen.
Vision was phenomenal. His creation was epic, his reveal was epic, and he stole the show when he handed Thor his hammer. That was easily one of the top scenes of the film and probably will stand with the best from the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bettany entered the already established group seamlessly, which is deceptive because he’s been around as the voice of Jarvis but hasn’t had physical on-screen time with the Avengers. He fit right into the group and was a superb foil to Ultron, dishing out the classy Jarvis quips without betraying his grace and wisdom.
The chemistry between the entire cast is palpable more than ever. Even with multiple additions to the normal crew which is obviously helped by the fact that for most of them this isn’t their first rodeo together. The Whedon-style humor, groan-worthy quips, and one-liners were all top of the line. The competitive banter that played throughout the film, and the all-too-familiar teasing of the friend who says things like “language,” it all sounded and felt perfectly natural.
The only drawback to such a star-studded line-up with so many huge characters, and secondary characters becoming more and more front-line characters, is that there was so much content and so much going on at all times, the cast and story were almost too big for the movie. The depth of the individuals and the premise were all buried in previous movies, so A2 really couldn’t stand alone to explain infinity stones and pretty much everything that’s going on. Not that you’d want a sequel to stand alone, but the point is that there was not a lot of room for depth and development for everyone. Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America had the least amount of development but they also have the most amount of background stories that have already been covered. Hawkeye definitely got the spotlight love along with Black Widow and Hulk, but they still had to make room for Ultron, Vision, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch too. Whedon said the original cut was around three and a half hours and that’s completely believable coming out of the finished product that ended up being two hours and thirty five minutes. There was so much content to work with there could have been a number of scenes for more epic Ultron fights, more of Ultron’s internet and real world preparation shenanigans, more on Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, more on Vision, more on Thor and Tony’s pissing matches, more of everything. Nothing felt skimped in the movie but there definitely was room for more.
Overall, Whedon didn’t try to recreate the magic of the first Avengers by using the same exact formula but with bigger explosions and crazier action scenes, and that absolutely kept the movie fresh and entertaining. His directing style was prevalent throughout, but not in a stale way and not a minute of the movie wasn’t entertaining. The weakest scene was probably the Ultron reveal where Stark does his fake laugh and tries to convince everyone that what he was trying to do with Ultron was right. But considering how full the movie was with great scenes, having a weak scene and that one being it is more of a testament of how good the whole movie was, the Ultron reveal to the team scene was not bad at all.
I will fully admit I was played and totally called Hawkeye’s death when his hidden life was revealed, having a secret wife and kids in the middle of nowhere, off the radar. The typical strategy of getting the audience to really get attached to a character with backstory and some humanity scenes tripped all the red flags and I was preparing for his death before Ultron’s final form was revealed. It was all purposefully set up that way, Hawkeye running to save the kid, Ultron laying down an inescapable line of fire, Quicksilver jumping in to save the day. Clearly Quicksilver was new and young and couldn’t be killed off, surely it would be the old man, Hawkeye, with so much to lose so we’d have a Coulson-like moment in A2? Nope. Quicksilver bit the bullet(s) and we get to see Hawkeye return to his family and even give tribute to Quicksilver by giving his newborn son Pietro for his middle name. The whole Hawkeye/Quicksilver arc was entertaining, the young punk kid against the old, hardened soldier guy.
While I’m dishing out confessions, my Black Widow/Hulk ship has set sail and is fully out to sea. The balance of characters is far better than the hinted at Widow/Hawkeye ship which would have been too Mr. and Mrs. Smith and just plain weird. Widow/Hulk give both characters that soft side in an otherwise very hard, angry, and shooty or smashy exterior. The lullaby trick, the hand thing, when she kissed him and pushed him off a ledge and then he saved her even while Hulked out, it was all my little hopeless romantic heart could ever want in an unexpected superhero relationship. Hulk’s exit at the end was probably the most heart wrenching scene but it opens up for either a solo Hulk movie or an Avengers III: The Search for
Spock Hulk movie (obviously the latter is not in the known cards Marvel will be playing). With Ruffalo not actually having a Hulk movie under his belt and not needing an origin story, the solo movie would not be a terrible idea. Just saying.
Sadly, Cap looks to be sad and alone for a bit longer, riding the “being a soldier without a war” theme a little longer but that could (and probably will) all change in his next film, Captain America: Civil War. It would have also been super cool to see Ultron put the town into orbit so we’d have AVENGERS IN SPAAAACE! But alas, that appears to be a storyline for another time.
My favorite scenes, in order: Vision handing Thor his hammer. Hulk vs. Iron Man, and mostly Iron Man doing a “puny God” on Hulk. “You’re adorable” *kiss* /shove off a cliff. Party scene trying to lift Thor’s hammer. Tied: Every RDJ scene and every Ultron scene. Stan Lee’s cameo. Really though, the whole movie was great. Definitely worth a second watching (happening in less than 24 hours as of this writing) and it’ll be interesting to see what else strikes me after the initial fangirling has subsided.
What did you guys think of the movie? Best and worst parts? Spill it!