Marvel’s THE AVENGERS did something in 2012 that no one thought possible. It took some of the biggest films in the previous four years and combined the characters into a cohesive, fun, action filled adventure without violating the rules the universe had set forth. In 2015, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON not only had to follow that film, but also exist in that universe that now contains 10 total films, two television series, multiple tie-in comics, and expectations that definitely went through the roof. Does AGE OF ULTRON succeed? Entirely yes, but not without some missteps along the way.
From the improved cinematography, a better perspective of each character’s unique flaws, and high octane action, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON succeeds to surpass the original film in those aspects. The sequel, however, contains a few issues with pacing and asking the audience to suspend their disbelief like a portal to another part of the galaxy over New York city. To compare Avengers films would be a disservice to all audience members, although we wish it were so simple. As the movie states, we like to think in terms of black and white; absolutes, when in reality, AGE OF ULTRON is truly a great comic book film and could never pass our unrealistically high expectations.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – 4/5 Stars
First and foremost, there will be some SPOILERS in this review. You can also listen to the spoiler filled Superhero Slate podcast on Monday dedicated purely to Age of Ultron’s release. Otherwise, if you would like to go in blind, refer to the opening paragraph. Anything more and I would hate to ruin the ride!
The fanfare for the film that arrived with THOR: THE DARK WORLD has been changed to match Alan Silvestri’s Avenger’s Theme from the first film. This is a bit jarring to not hear the page flips, but its soon quelled by the actual film’s opening. AGE OF ULTRON opens up with the team together and that is one hell of an experience seeing them take on HYDRA. Theres a scene that rivals the one-take shot from the first film and you’ll want to rewatch that for days. This is also a direct tie-in to the current AGENTS OF SHIELD TV show and thats pretty cool, as well as some blunt nods to the first Avenger’s outing.
From here, the first third of the movie is probably the messiest. A lot has obviously been cut due to time restraints, so hopefully we’ll get an extended director’s cut later on. It makes some of the transitions quicker than expected and we’re sort of just supposed to know what happens. The jumps assume you’re a smart audience, but still leave questions open that linger in the back of your mind. Exactly how did Ultron get his newer body? The world may never know. This is just a single instance of several scenes that feel disjointed and lacking proper plotlines that make them feel more relevant to the overall flow of the story. Regardless, this doesn’t hurt the film in the long run, they just may confuse people who aren’t paying attention.
There are tons of surprises in this film! Its not full of easter eggs (although some strong ties to the larger Marvel cinematic universe are laid out), but there are some strong reveals that even blew me away. I went in as cold as possible, only seeing the trailers and one TV spot on accident (damn you Agents of SHIELD!), which helped me feel like an infant viewing the world for the first time in a lot of scenes. At this point in time, now we know the identity of at least 4 infinity stones, and with the cinematic slate nailed out through 2019, we all know who’s coming for dinner.
In the end, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is a prettier film with a better cinematic approach to the story. There are a variety of locales, though not as many as we’ve been told to believe, which adds flavor to the film. Even the extensive, fast paced, action packed scenes are easy to follow and outdo the Battle of New York by a long shot. The writing is wittier and fun, but still maintains heart, giving these superhumans an actual human feel. Their flaws are exposed and taken advantage of, which in turn makes them more compelling than their first team-up film.
Before continuing, there are SUPER SPOILERS in the next section. Don’t read this if you want to be TRULY surprised. Feel free to continue if you’ve seen the movie and enjoy (bad) puns.
There was no doubt in my mind that not everyone was going to survive this film, however, it was the waste of Baron Von Strucker that really chaps my ass. A great villain in the comics and potentially in the cinematic universe, was laid to waste without having more than 5 total minutes of screen time. Even Ulysses Klaw made it out alive, so lets give him a hand for that….wait. A final death could have been handled differently as well, but its happened, lets get over it and move on quickly.
Now lets think about the future since we’ve mentioned Klaw. He and his vibranium stash are definitely strongly tied to Wakanda, meaning the Black Panther movie is being setup, much like Stephen Strange was mentioned in THE WINTER SOLDIER. The New Avengers training facility leaves Captain America in charge of his new team, including the Black Widow, War Machine (better than Iron Patriot), the Vision (such a mother fucking badass, seriously), Scarlet Witch (her final outfit is spot on), and the Falcon. These ‘New Avengers’ can and probably will be seen in CIVIL WAR next year and more than likely in INFINITY WAR the years after. We finally also got confirmation that Loki’s sceptre was the Mind stone and is in fact, yellow. Totally called this years ago, so…BOOM!
And yes, we’re SUPER disappointed there were no post-scene credits and how did Thanos get the gauntlet back form Odin’s armory? That, is a review for another day.