If you’ve ever stumbled upon my blog, visited my YouTube channel, or know me in person… you likely know that Avengers: Age of Ultron was one of my most anticipated movies of this year. So the expectations were high, to say the least. With our hero(in)es reuniting, new characters in the mix, and a 2.5 hour movie… could this live up to the hype?
If you haven’t seen the prior 10 movies that happened before this, check out my recap video here.
In Age of Ultron, we basically join the Avengers as they search for a magical scepter that Loki had used in The Avengers to control people’s minds. Once they recover it, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) discovers that it might hold the key to creating an artificial intelligence that he had been tinkering with, which could protect the planet from alien threats. This AI becomes sentient however and realizes that the only way to protect the planet is to destroy all humans on it. The AI is called Ultron and is voiced by James Spader (Blacklist).
To fight Ultron, we have the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). We have some new characters, including the speedster Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), his twin sister the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and a creation of Ultron’s named Vision (Paul Bettany).
We also have brief appearances by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), War Machine (Don Cheadle), the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and some other familiar faces.
Let me tell you what I wanted from this movie first. I wanted amazing action, witty banter between heroes, and a really cool villain in Ultron. Now let’s dive in.
In terms of action… This movie is nonstop. The opening scene sets the standard high, as the action only slows down during a few scenes in the entire movie. And while the CGI wasn’t always spectacular during these fight scenes, the creative aspects were incredible. In the first Avengers, we got a few moments where they’d team up their powers to do something cool (ie, Iron Man shooting a blast at Captain America’s shield). In Age of Ultron, we get so much more of that. The team dynamics are great during these fight scenes, giving us moments that feel like they truly jumped off the pages of a comic book. I could forgive some faulty effects because of how awesome those moments were. It may not have looked real when Captain America threw his motorcycle at some guys, but it was still frickin cool.
Now, the combat dynamics were great, but did characters also get their unique moments to shine? Yes, absolutely. In terms of each of them being badass, yes. They also got moments to shine outside of the fighting. Most notably, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) got a substantial storyline that made up for the disservice in The Avengers. He gets a cool story as well as just generally kicking more ass. He has a moment with Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) in the big climax that might be one of my favorite Marvel moments so far.
Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson join the movie as two “enhanced” people, able to do some crazy stuff. Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver has to compete with the other Quicksilver that appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Joss Whedon smartly decided not to try and compete but instead made a very different version of Quicksilver (and one that’s much closer to the comic version).
Olsen’s Scarlet Witch is truly a highlight of the movie though. They simplified her powers, for those of you that know what she should be able to do, but it still comes across really cool. The original Avengers all basically hit or shoot stuff, so it’s fun to have characters with new ways to fight. And her red hex abilities just look really awesome.
There’s one other new character that deserves some attention.
His name is Vision. He is played by Paul Bettany, who has been voicing Tony Stark’s JARVIS operating system all the way since Iron Man. Marvel has smartly kept Vision pretty under wraps, only including him in a few promotional shots and trailers. I wasn’t sure what his role would be and how true to the comics this character would be.
But wow. Vision impressed me beyond belief. As I walked out of the theater, it was Vision that I was thinking about. He steals the show, delivering some incredibly deep and poignant moments but also delivering some of the movie’s biggest action moments (and laughs, as well). He may not be in the film much but there’s huge potential for his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to come.
Something that could be seen as both a good and a bad… Marvel already announced its next slate of films leading up to Avengers: Infinity War (which is a 2-part event). That means that Age of Ultron has to set up a lot of these movies, so some moments don’t pay off within this movie. There’s a sequence in the African nation of Wakanda that is setting up the Black Panther film. Thor goes on a strange little side quest that will payoff in Thor: Ragnarok. Some seeds for Captain America: Civil War are planted. I appreciated these moments but as a standalone movie, these moments slowed down the pace.
What doesn’t work?
This movie isn’t perfect, in fact I have a few big issues with it.
Firstly, the title character: Ultron. They made a unique choice here. They gave him a sense of humor. I kind of understand why… But it felt like the movie had so much humor already, that I would’ve rather seen Ultron as a terrifying force, as opposed to witty one-liners. Also, visually, I felt like they made him look too human. His mouth started to annoy me, as he had metal lips. Overall Ultron was a cool villain to face but doesn’t stack up against truly great villains like Loki or the Kingpin from Daredevil.
I already mentioned above that some of the CGI work was a little poorly executed. I noticed it more in the first action scene than anywhere else, so maybe I just hadn’t really settled into the cartoonish world that the movie exists in. Other action scenes didn’t really bother me much but that first one just really stood out.
And since the movie has so much action, some people might notice a pacing problem or even a lack of plot explanations, just to move from action scene to action scene.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is an action-packed and hilarious adventure. We get quality quiet moments with our heroes, as well as moments for everyone to kick ass in their unique way. The effects don’t always look spotless, but it’s worth ignoring for how cool it all looks coming together. The new characters are all pretty rad, with Paul Bettany’s Vision being the highlight for me. While the heroes shine, the villain did his job but isn’t going to be remembered as one of the Marvel greats, though not because of Spader, who did some great voiceover work. For me… Age of Ultron was nearly everything that I wanted, except for a few small things but I’ll definitely be seeing it multiple times in theaters.