Avengers: Age of Ultron Review
Review by Fernando Lyons
The original Avengers movie was critically acclaimed and one of the highest grossing movies of all time. It was also one of my all-time favorites. With the exception of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel's sequels have been unable to match the freshness, entertainment value,and character of their highly successful prequels. With that in mind, I didn't have the highest of expectations going into the follow up to the Avengers.
The story doesn't necessarily pick up where the Avengers ended. With that said, let's get my only minor gripe out of the way, before getting to the good stuff. When we last saw the team on the big screen, everyone had gone their separate ways, to be reassembled when the next great threat to the world arises. Since that time, a few standalone movies, such as Iron Man 3, Thor : The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, have been released, where each Avenger had his own adventure. During that time, there were no strong references to the Avengers as a team, so it didn't appear that they kept in contact with each other. Yet, when the Age of Ultron movie starts they are all together and working as if they have been on several other missions for a while. There were some small references in the latest Marvel's Agents of SHIELD episodes, but nothing indicating that the team has been working together, as a well oiled machine, for a while. Former SHIELD director, Nick Fury (Sam Jackson), pops in this movie, but never mentions where he has been, or if he found who/what he was looking for when he left at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Maybe he can't reveal this level of detail, since he is a super-spy after all. Also, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) have seemed to have formed some type of romantic relationship, which is a bit out-of-the-blue, and also appears to have originated off-screen. Maybe the background I was expecting was referenced in a scene I missed from Marvel's Agent of SHIELD, or included in a comic book, but it would have been nice to get some kind of recap during the movie (even though it would have added a few more minutes to a very long movie) before getting right into the action. I'll get off my soapbox now.
One area in which this movie surpasses its predecessor is in the action category. This is one of the most entertaining and action-packed movies that you will have ever seen. The action in this movie is intense from the start, and no expenses were spared in the special effects department. During the movie's opening scene, the Avengers are assaulting Hydra's hidden base in Europe, in search for the mind-control staff that Loki used in the original movie. There is plenty of superpower butt-kicking and explosions in that scene, but this scene is relatively calm compared to later scenes, where the Avengers are battling it out with hundreds of robots, and an entire city is lifted into the sky. The Hulk vs Iron Man (wearing the Hulk Buster armor) fight is a battle that many fans have clamored for since Tony Stark made a cameo appearance in the end credits of the stand-alone Hulk movie. I can say that this fight definitely lived up to the hype. Buildings shook and windows shattered just from the shockwaves generated by the powerful punches exchanged. Entire skyscrapers crumbled as the Hulk and Iron Man went crashing through each level. This battle took place in a fully occupied city, so the scene had a high level of drama and tension. The only thing I didn't like about that scene is that it had to end.
Early in the movie, viewers are introduced to Hydra leader Baron von Strucker's (Thomas Kretschmann) guinness pigs Wanda (Elisabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), also known as the Scarlett With and Quick Silver. The version of QuickSilver used in this movie is obviously different than the teenage version used in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and although he didn't have a scene as grand as the Magneto jailbreak scene from the X-men movie, he did have some good moments. One of the fan favorites from the comics, The Vision (Paul Bettany), also makes a welcome, scene stealing appearance in this movie. In the comics, The Vision and Scarlett Witch actually become romantically involved and have a set of twins (through magic) together. The Vision (Spoiler Warning) is also now in possession of one of the six Infinity Stones, so it will be interesting to see how his story develops in the Avengers: Infinity War sequels. Along with the new characters, a few characters from the standalone movies make cameos, including War Machine (Done Cheadle) and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie. Sam Jackson reprises his role as Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders returns as agent Maria Hill, and what would a Marvel movie be without a great Stan Lee cameo? It was good to see Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) get more screen time this time around. As good as the Marvel superhero movies have been, the title characters usually dominate their movies, and the villains are often forgettable. Fortunately, I can say that Ultron (James Spader) is not only a memorable villain, he is one of the two best villains (Loki) that has appeared in a Marvel movie to date. He has the perfect combination of charisma, intelligence, motivation, and physical intimidation that any great villain has. With all of the characters and onscreen star power, it would seem to be a challenge for all of the characters to get any sufficient screen time, however, director Joss Whedon did an excellent job of balancing everyone's screen time, so each character received quality treatment.
On the topic of balance, then writers did a great job of balancing the amount of drama and humor. The movie has a dark tone overall, but like most Marvel movies, there is a good amount of humor to break up the tension. The Scarlett Witch character uses her mental manipulation abilities to cast visions into the Avengers' minds, which not only serves to provide some back story for some characters, but it also sets up future events which will take place in the sequels. As far as the sequels, I won't spoil anything, but I will say that there is a post-credit which will lead us to the events of the Infinity War. Also, like the Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there were some major shake-ups in this movie, which will have some major impacts on the Marvel movie universe going forward. Although, not as impactful as the original Avengers movie, this movie is one of Marvel's most entertaining efforts to date. My children want me to take them to see this movie this weekend, so I will see it again on the big screen. Fortunately, this is one of those movies that I don't mind making multiple trips to the theater to see.
+Great Action Sequences, Awesome Special Effects, Great Villain, Great Cameos, The Vision, Good Balance of Drama and Comedy, Very Entertaining, & Good Post-Credit Scene
- Some Unanswered Questions
NOTE: There is one mid-credit scene. There is no scene after the credits are done scrolling.