Right then; It’s been out several week now and most of you have probably already seen it so my opinion no longer matters. Which means that it’s the perfect time for my opinion on The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the penultimate film of Marvel’s Phase 2 series of shared universe films. Also in my defense I’ve had a pretty major birthday come round (30th if you’re wondering), I’ve been busy rehearsing for a play I’m in (Man in the Iron Mask if you’re wondering) and I now own a PS4. So shut up I’ve finally got round to this! It has also took me two viewings and a few weeks of just thinking about it to come to the opinions I’m about to share with you, more on that later.
I will try to be as spoiler free as possible out of politeness, however I am assuming by the current box office takings that most of you have seen it. So anyway, here we go…
I will start with the stuff I like first; Immediately apparent is how much The Avengers have developed as a team, as shown by their personal interactions and the film jumping straight in with a fast paced action sequence of them destroying a Hydra base. They even have a couple of team special moves worked out which I enjoyed, very reminiscent of my days playing Ultimate Alliance on the PS2. The main character who comes out on top in the way of development is definitely Hawkeye, possibly because he spent most of his time in the last Avengers movie as a pink eyed zombie. The story picking straight up from the aftermath of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the current series of Agents of Shield. In fact the film as a whole does a good job of acknowledging previous and upcoming films with the use of throw away lines and references that don’t stop the flow of the movie, something Sony really could do with learning.
The new characters fit in well; The Vision possibly being the most interesting one introduced in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, also it’s really nice to finally see Paul Bettany’s face after 7 years.
Scarlet Witch was also presented really well; When they first announced the characters inclusion in the film I personally had no idea how they were going to pull it off! Considering at one point she blinked 99.5% of all mutants out of existence, which could possibly explain why there are no mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Fox Lawyers *Wink Wink*). Quicksilver although not being used as effectively as he was in Days of Future past I thought this film did a much better job of getting his personality & character across. If we’re talking ‘comic accuracy’ I think the Age of Ultron version of Pietro takes it.
As for Ultron himself I thought he did a pretty good job of being the type of villain it would take all these super powered people to team up & throw down on. Although he isn’t Tom Hiddleston (Then again, who is? Other than Tom Hiddleston himself of course, who is lovely *swoon*) you can tell that James Spader obviously had a lot of fun with it, going from charming to full blown psychotic at the drop of a hat. I’m not a huge fan of his design as I think his face suffers from the same design issues as Optimus Prime in the Micheal Bay Transformer movies; His face is just far too expressive. Also he has lips!
Why does he have lips!?! Is he planning on drinking through a straw or kissing someone anytime soon? I don’t think so. It’s approaching uncanny valley territory and I personally think a more expressionless emotionless appearance would have worked a lot better. In fact he doesn’t really come across as menacing as the initial trailers would have you believe; At times being almost jovial & comedic, although this may be due to his altered origin with his “father” being Tony Stark in this universe. So it is only natural that he would pick up a few of his personality traits. This is a gap I managed to fill in myself as a comics fan & reader, but more on that in a moment.
So with that let get into stuff I didn’t like so much, which are really more gripes; The editing throughout the movie was rather rapid to say the least, a friend of mine I went to see it with used the term “break neck” which is quite accurate. There are times where characters just pop up out of nowhere leaving you no clue how they got from where you previously saw them. Apparently Joss Whedon cut quite a hefty chunk of scenes from the film before release, this is especially noticeable during Thor’s side quest. I personally would be quite interested in seeing a directors cut to see if it just calmed things down a bit. Also as I mentioned there are quite a few story gaps you have to kinda fill in or justify for yourself.
The film also copy/pastes a few of the beats from the previous Avengers, after all it is still a big baddie with an army of smaller more punchable baddies like the last guy. But I guess if it isn’t broke don’t fix it. Also under the surface this is a much darker film in tone than the previous one, with the villains main goal this time round just being complete human extinction.
As I stated right at the very beginning (if you can remember that far back) it took me two viewings to finally decide what I thought of it. When I first saw this it was part of the special Triple Bill put on by Cineworld Cinemas; the run being The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then Age of Ultron premiering at the stroke of midnight. In hindsight this was actually the worst possible way to view this movie, for the following reason;
1) That’s a whole lot of geek film to sit through before getting to the main event. I am now a 30 year old and I guess I’m not as equipped physically or mentally for film marathons anymore. I was having to resort to downing Red Bull long before the stroke of midnight.
2) It leads to immediate comparison to the previous 2 films; The Winter Soldier is tied for first place (With Guardians of the Galaxy) in my opinion as the strongest Marvel film so far. And the previous Avengers is a great movie, in fact…
3) The previous Avengers is more than a great movie! It’s possibly an example of first great modern Hollywood blockbuster of our time, it forever changed the pop culture landscape around it. Not only is it a good film in it’s own right it was THE moment. Shared comic book continuity in film WORKS! The experiment worked; Characters from across multiple films coming together all under one franchise. There is no way that any film could recapture that groundbreaking moment in film history. There is a reason everything DC is doing is a reaction to Marvel. They’re even trying to do a shared universe with Ghostbusters! Phase 1 was the run up, The Avengers was the landing, Phase 2 onward is the overblown victory dance.
Overall I liked Age of Ultron, even if it was more on the second viewing. The action scenes are great, the performances all round are solid, and it sows a lot of seeds for the things to come in future films in Phase 3. It also shows a shift in tone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole; With the coming of Civil War and Thanos finally getting off his chair to do something, it looks like the crap is about to hit the fan, in a good way. It is also the departure of Joss Whedon from the series, however I do think the future of the universe is in good hands with the Russo brothers.
I’m going to finish by quoting a friend of mine and his opinion of the whole thing; “If Joss Whedon made all Hollywood blockbusters they would be flawed, but they would still be good.”