Well it’s finally time for us moviegoers to assemble, because Marvel’s Avengers are back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Once again directed by geek god Joss Whedon, it features the returning Avengers cast that we know and love. This time around an evil android known as Ultron has set his sights on world domination and only The Avengers can stop him, but can they do it before it’s too late? Well duh, they’re the fracking Avengers, of course they can! But along the way we’re given great action, acting, and comedy, all leading into a comic book style movie like no other.
There are no shortage of super heroic feats on display in Age of Ultron, performed by each and every one of the Marvel icons assembled for the sequel: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye. But this time around the team also gets War Machine, Falcon and three newcomers: The Vision, and the Maximoff twins, Wanda and Pietro. All must come together for the greater good to stop the evil Ultron. But the most impressive display of strength, fortitude and good intent comes not from the costumed characters, but from the director himself, Joss Whedon.
Here is a man who not only can write for a cast of 15 or more, but can manage to give each and every one their moment, in story arcs that you as the viewer can relate to. He has crafted a story that works on many levels; he shows other studios how it should be done. On the downside, the sequel lacks some of the storytelling elegance of the first film, and feels a tad over-packed with both characters and seeds being planted for future films. Joss could stand to focus on the here and now, and let the future plans sit on the back burner.
Still, another director wouldn’t have had the ability to pull off a movie this busy; Whedon does it with the skill of a pro. He just knows how to make a great superhero movie.
There’s no sense in talking yet again how perfect these actors are in these films. At this point what can be said about Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, and Cobie Smulders that hasn’t already been said? They have mastered their characters across multiple films and TV. Each knows what their character should doing and saying. For us, and I’m sure to them, it’s like seeing an old friend where everything always just falls into place.
Also returning is Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie, who also fit right in as if they’ve always been there. But what’s awesome is we get the addition of Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Paul Bettany, who come in like a wrecking ball and destroy everything in their wake. They’re all awesome actors who brought their talent and skill to their new Avengers characters.
Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are two enhanced humans that blame The Avengers for their country’s issues. They’re being used by Hydra, and then by Ultron, and they have a story arc that works and makes sense for the characters as they exist these films. They work seamlessly into the plot, as does the Vision, played by Paul Bettany. He’s no stranger to these films, being the voice of JARVIS since the beginning, but now he has taken human form and becomes an actual team member and kicks some major ass. All three add something special to the movie and make the film stand out that much more.
But the one who steals the show is James Spader as Ultron. He comes in hitting and swinging and never stops once. Talk about a beast unleashed. He hates all humanity and wants nothing more than to purge the world of it, and he goes about it with the ruthless perfection of a comic book villain. Spader’s voice just oozes evil with every word. As the antagonist of the movie you understand his motives, and that he’ll stop at nothing. He is a perfect comic book villain come to life that fans will talk about for years to come.
The special effects are over the top and epic, like the first one. As with most sequels, the movie goes bigger and bolder with sets, effects, and plots. The movie flows nicely, though ramps up maybe a bit too fast. But Joss wants to get you into the plot quickly, and he does.
The Hulk/Black Widow thing is a little blah, I could have done without that; it just seems to bog down certain scenes. The Hulkbuster scene will stand out to any viewer, but for me it was the most perfect opening to any comic book movie to date. Plus you get a final battle that could almost be compared to Aragorn and company making their final stand against Sauron’s forces at the Black Gates of Mordor in Return of the King. Yes, it’s that epic.
Over all this is one hellva of a movie. It’s big, it’s loud and it’s awesome. It has some mild issues, but really they can be overlooked because the overall journey is better than any of its problems. You get great acting, smashing effects and action, and wonderful characters you enjoy spending time with. Avengers: Age of Ultron is a great movie and a fantastic sequel in the Avengers franchise. Marvel once again shows us how it’s done right.