It’s hard to approach a movie like Avengers: Age of Ultron without a fair degree of bias. Most sequels are built to stand on their own, and that is the case here. The problem is that you’re naturally going to compare it to the first movie, perhaps a little unfairly. Even worse as this is the sequel to the highest grossing non-James Cameron movie of all time, so it’s getting a lot more hype right from the off. Let me just say that it’s not as good as the first movie, but it’s still a damn good flick.
Returning to the director’s chair is Joss Whedon, and a lot more of his personal touch seems to be all over this movie. Heavy-handed misleads, existential debates, technology vs. magic leaning on the latter, sibling bonds, really contrived plot convenience (McGuffin Pool, McGuffin Pool, let’s see Thor swim in the McGuffin pool!), so a lot of your liking of this will depend on how much patience you have for his usual work.
Thankfully, all the stuff he put into the Avengers that worked is still here too. An awesome villain, played by the menacing and charismatic James Spader, great character beats and interactions and absolutely hilarious dialogue is still present. While the action isn’t as clean and grandiose as it previously was, Whedon cannot handled cluttered and panicked that well, it’s still got some great moments and the opening action scene is a masterpiece in characterisation and creative fights.
Where the movie falters is in the fact that it’s taking on way too much. Along with the introduction of three new characters, with disparate origins, we’re setting up future movies and paying off plot threads from previous ones as well. The cast list gave fear that the movie would be a cluttered and unstructured mess, and while that wasn’t so much the case, there could have been a lot cut out to make room for actual character development. While the hallucination sequences are great, they could have been trimmed down a lot to develop Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who are in desperate need of definition and are easily the low point of the film.
The breakout, then, is The Vision. Paul Bettany is wonderful in the role (most of the cast are, but you know that already), and his motivation is clear, defined, and he has a great philosophical motivation against our antagonist as well as a personal one. He is proof that the movie is a huge risktaker for a summer blockbuster and, while it doesn’t always work, when it does succeed, it succeeds marvel(hah)lously.
Avengers: Age of Ultron serves to bring in what you love about the MCU, while also bringing something new and thought provoking. While the film is disparate in places, it’s fun, frightening in places and is admirable that it has more brains than a summer blockbuster is allowed to have. Definitely one worth watching.
|This fight, despite dragging out a bit, is about as awesome as you think it is.|