Film Review: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

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Director: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson

Joss Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron sees Tony Stark attempt to develop a dormant peacekeeping program named Ultron, which of course does the exact opposite of what its supposed to, leaving the Avengers to stop the villainous A.I from taking over the world. It was your typical superhero story, fairly straightforward, and nothing overly complex. It’s nice to see some focus on the civilians, particularly the public perception of the Avengers as a threat or risk. We all could’ve expected this after the destruction caused at the end of Captain America: Winter Soldier. 

While 2 hours and 21 minutes may feel like a fairly long movie, there are just so many characters to showcase, and the film falls short a bit because of this. Only a few characters get explored with any depth, which is expected, considering we’ve had – according to my calculations – 1,122 minutes to get to know most of them (and that’s not including Agents of the S.H.I.E.L.D or Agent Carter).

There was no time wasted on slow dramatic builds or character introductions. In fact, there was no time wasted at all. It’s hard hitting from the get go – beginning with an enthralling action scene. The film swings from heavy action to breaths of comedy without ever losing its momentum.

James Spader was delightful in his portrayal of Ultron. His hypnotic voice was menacing, yet human. It would have been no surprise had Ultron been your typical logic-driven, apathetic robot – which we’ve seen a million times by now. But instead, he was funny, he was sentient, and he was endearing. He feels pain, but he sure can deliver it too.

Chris Hemsworth is notably tremendous as Thor. It’s still a bit odd seeing a Norse God in casualwear, but its compensated by his hilarious naivety (and the fact that Chris Hemsworth pretty much looks like a god no matter what).

As well as Ultron, the film introduces three new villains from the Marvel Universe; Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and Vision (Paul Bettany).

Of the three, Scarlet Witch stood out. She is able to engage in hypnosis and telekinesis, which allows her to enter the minds of others, but also means she sees what they see, and feels what they feel. Every time she tries to manipulate somebody, she’s putting herself at risk. This was an interesting bit of depth that was scarce in most of the other characters.

That being said, those times that Scarlet does engage in the minds of the Avengers provides us with an opportunity to delve a little deeper into their mindset. She inflects their minds with their own personal fears, allowing us to understand them and their motivation much better – without dwelling on it too much. Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) gets some much-needed development here, as we learn more about how her dark past is beginning to catch up on her.

Each of those sequences are foregrounded by a moment of silence, darkness, or both, before exploding into what was undoubtedly the artistic peak of the film. The fear sequences showed so much promise in terms of where this series can go visually. Aside from this, the culminating stand off of the movie, and a conversation that takes place between Tony Stark’s A.I. companion, J.A.R.V.I.S., and Ultron, are also visually stunning. Everything else looked good, but was nothing game changing.

The pacing for some of the action shots was slightly detrimental to the cinematography. There were times where it all seemed to be moving a bit too fast – and considering how action packed this movie is – it would have been nice to slow things down and concentrate more on the actual action. Many of the amazing scenery and choreography gets lost in the rapid movement of the film.

There is, of course, a love story, that also seemed to get a bit lost in the shuffle. We won’t delve too much into this, as we don’t want to spoil anything for you. This particular plot point didn’t seem to fit in very well – but you can’t have a Hollywood blockbuster without a love story, so we’ll allow it.

Another exciting pairing comes in what appears to be a bit of a bromance between Thor and Captain America. They’re both heroes who are still settling in to modern America, so it makes sense they’d develop a bit of a bond. But what’s best about this, is that their relationship translates into the action, and there are many times where the Captain and Thor use their respective weapons and styles together in some pretty unique ways.

Bruce Banner and Tony Stark don’t go unnoticed; their attraction to science forms their bond, resulting in the Stark-constructed ‘Hulkbuster’, which stands out as perhaps the coolest gadget in the movie.

The use of Concerto In Do Maggiore Per Pianoforte Ed Orchestra: Larghetto as Bruce Banner’s ‘calming music’ was the musical highlight of the film, and was the first of many instances of obvious, unapologetic product placement as Bruce shows off his Beats headphones. Elsewhere, the score is run-of-the-mill; it heightens the action, but is still fairly standard for a superhero movie.

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Coming off the success of Guardians of the Galaxy, and with Ant Man around the corner, Marvel Studios have a lot on their plate. The introduction of these new faces to the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made the Avengers seem a little bit like ‘old dogs’, and as they say, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Age Of Ultron did everything it needed to do, nothing more and nothing less. It wasn’t revolutionary, and definitely won’t have the same impact as its predecessor, but it’s still a great, fun, action-packed film.

Lastly – and at this point, I shouldn’t need to say this – as with any Marvel film we advise that you sit through the credits. I mean, we wouldn’t want you to miss anything important; like who was the Second Unit Director, or who the grading supervisor was, or maybe, just maybe, something else

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