Avengers: Age of Ultron
UK Release: 23/04/2015
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, James Spader, Paul Bettany
Avengers: Age of Ultron is the comic book movie we’ve all been waiting for… but does it really live up to the hype?
It’s been several years since the Battle of new York – the alien invasion in the original Avengers movie that led to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes teaming up for the greater good. But while the world has seemingly gone back to normal, the Avengers fight on – this time, by bringing down HYDRA.
Of course, the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier have completely changed the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. it looks as though the Avengers are the clean-up crew.
And the fight soon takes them to the Eastern European country of Sokovia.
It’s here that they find Baron Von Strucker – a radical HYDRA scientist who has been experimenting on volunteers from the local populace. And it seems that the Maximoff twins are his greatest accomplishment.
Introducing Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch – Strucker’s big guns who have been imbued with super-speed and… well… some other non-descript power which allows Wanda (played by Elizabeth Olsen) to hurl red plasma energy around.
Oh and she’s able to give people visions, too.
Of course, it’s not long before the Avengers are forced to go up against these new, super-powered foes… and while they make quick work of Von Strucker, the twins manage to give them the run-around.
It turns out that Von Strucker has been using the sceptre formerly wielded by Loki to perform his experiments… and in the aftermath, Stark discovers something amazing – a powerful A.I. hidden within the sceptre’s gem.
Unable to resist the lure of making the world a better place, he convinces Bruce Banner to help him resurrect an old project – Ultron. Designed as a peacekeeping A.I. it doesn’t exactly go to plan… and when the murderous A.I. builds himself a new body, it’s not long before all hell breaks loose.
I know what you’re thinking – not exactly the most original story. In fact, we’ve seen this sort of thing a number of times in Hollywood, and it plays out pretty much exactly as you might expect. James Spader is fairly good as Ultron… but he doesn’t exactly have much to do, other than acting stereotypically evil.
At certain points in the movie, I almost expected Ultron to develop a villainous cackle.
But the two-dimensional villainy of Ultron isn’t even the worst aspect of the movie.
I have to admit – I’m very much a Marvel fan. I’ve followed the franchise since its infancy, and even paid good money to watch the original Hulk. I know… what was I thinking? But despite all of this, I just felt as though Age of Ultron catered way too much for the fans.
Sure, I got every reference and sometimes even delighted at the way Age of Ultron seemingly ducked and dived throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But if I’m honest, it was all a bit too much.
And my wife provided the perfect case study.
Although I’m an enormous Marvel fan, she is not. She’s never read the comic books and will only watch a Marvel movie if I really make her. Despite this, she’s actually enjoyed plenty of them – Guardians of the Galaxy and The Winter Soldier in particular.
But when it comes to Avengers: Age of Ultron she just wasn’t impressed… and felt as though there was a lot of story that just went over her head.
And that’s the big problem with Age of Ultron – it concentrates so hard on pleasing the fans, it almost forgets how to be an entertaining movie. Almost. There are still some really excellent scenes – and that HYDRA battle at the very beginning of the film is one of them. There are even some excellent jokes that you don’t have to be a Marvel fan to understand.
But for the most part, a lot of the movie seems lost on those who haven’t followed the franchise fanatically. And when you’re talking about a big event movie like the Avengers sequel, that seems like a huge oversight.
And then there’s the sheer amount of stuff that’s going on.
There’s the main plot with Ultron. Then there’s a side-plot which highlights the obvious tension between Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in order to setup Captain America: Civil War. And on top of that, there’s a romance between Hulk and Black Widow, as well as (weirdly) introducing Hawkeye’s secret family.
But that’s not all. There’s another A.I. that’s sort-of accidentally built called Vision (played by Paul Bettany) who might be good but we’re not originally sure until he picks up Thor’s hammer which means he must be a good guy…
Yeah. I think you can see where I’m going.
Avengers: Age of Ultron tries just a bit too hard and packs way too much in.
And I can’t help feeling that the major problem is that the movie concentrates so hard on adding to the Marvel Universe, that it forgets how to be an enjoyable movie.
Again, that’s not to say there aren’t some very enjoyable parts. But overall, it felt as though Avengers: Age of Ultron was a bit of a damp squib. I enjoyed it… but not enough to really justify the movie existing in the first place.
And coming from the studio that brought us The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy that just feels a little sad.
Let’s just hope Marvel tightens things up for Avengers: Infinity War.