In 2012 I had one of the greatest movie experiences in my life. I went to a theater with some of my best friends and we finally watched Earth’s Mightiest Heroes come together on the big screen. It was the ultimate payoff and delivered on everything we dreamed when Nick Fury showed up at the end of Iron Man in 2008. That same feeling and magic will never be recaptured, but Marvel, Kevin Feige and Joss Wedon aren’t interested in giving us The Avenger: Remix. What they delivered with The Avengers: Age Of Ultron is something very different and darker than it’s predecessor. Age Of Ultron succeeds in a lot of areas, and its an enjoyable summer blockbuster. Ultimately, it does not reach the heights of first, but it offers its own enjoyable thrill ride.
The movie starts with a bang, as the team is battling Hydra over Loki’s scepter. From the opening one-take the movie doesn’t stop as it tosses plot, one-liners and new characters at us without a second to reflect. Tony wants to put the Avengers out of business with the “Peace Keeping” AI, Ultron. It fails, and its up to Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and the rest of the crew to stop the angry robot. We spend little time setting up the story because there is far to much of it to slow down. We move from Sokovia, to Stark Tower, to Africa with the characters going back and forth so fast, its hard to keep up with the motivations and reasoning. I get why Tony wants to make Ultron, but why does Ultron want to destroy humanity?
Ultron, voiced incredibly by James Spader, is one of Marvel’s better villains, but he isn’t given enough screen time to explain his reasoning and ideology. He spews out lines and biblical quotes that are interesting, but aren’t explored further. The movie doesn’t do a good job explaining why he goes from a peace-keeping program, to Avenger-death-machine, to Humanity’s Executioner. I understand it for the sake of the story and giving our heroes something to save, but it become difficult to understand once you start asking questions. Despite this, James does a fine job giving Ultron some personality and sass. Unfortunately, he never posses a proper threat like Loki and the Chitauri did. It might be because I know the line-up of movies to come in the future, but I never feared any major deaths. The Twins, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, are unnecessary here. Their backstory is tied to Stark and their motivations to kill him make sense. Their pairing with Ultron is a bit less believable, and their turn to the good side feels meaningless. Quicksilver’s powers aren’t as stylish as they are in Days Of Future Past and it seems like Aaron Taylor-Johnson is out of breath more than he’s actually running. Scarlet Witch is a bit more interesting and her powers have much more impact on the overarching story. Her abilities ultimately break-up the team, but for superficial reasons.
The “flashbacks” that some of our heroes experience are intriguing, but as is the case with the entire movie, there isn’t enough time to dive into the meaning of them, or why they would break up the group. Thor is taken back to his home planet and he sees a hellish version of it. After that, his story takes a turn that doesn’t fit the rest of the movie at all. Black Widow’s story is very interesting, but she deserves more time too. Her romance with Bruce Banner actually made sense to me as they developed a relationship in the last movie, but Banner isn’t a very interesting counterpoint.
There really isn’t much reasoning behind any character motivations or actions, which is fine, but you have to make the ride interesting and fun enough for me not to care. They don’t do that here. I felt the length of this movie, they should’ve saved the Hulkbuster fight for the movie, and Vision’s short appearance is probably the best part of the movie. Its clear that they’re setting up Captain America: Civil War, but the disagreements between the two leaders could’ve been more profound and drawn out. The movie should have ended with them literally butting heads, but it didn’t. Age Of Ultron is fun, but ultimately not as good as its predecessor.