It’s finally here, the biggest film of the year which is the next huge step in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but how does it compare to the other blockbusters in the series and most importantly, is it better than The Avengers?
The follow up the 2012 smash hit, when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) unknowingly awaken a super-intelligent peacekeeping AI named Ultron (voiced by James Spader), the team of super heroes and assassins consisting of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) come together when the world is once again in danger but the killer robot also enlists the help of powerful twins Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) to tear them apart inside out.
The movie delves right into the action from the very start, no messing around with assembling the team, they are already one cohesive unit, displaying their impressive skill-set in many extraordinary ways. We see team dynamics clearly with humour, excitement and intrigue that tells us immediately to strap in for a thrilling ride.
Since the movie is a huge ensemble, with many vastly different characters from different movies, I will review each character and analyse their role in this film:
Forget aliens, the big bad of this movie is Ultron, who has his terrifying moments which is mostly thanks to the stand out voice work by James Spader, who really brings so much charisma to the role even with just his voice. The main problem I had was the occasionally snarky comment which fell flat to me. Here is a villain with cliched intentions – to rid the world of human beings who are destroying the planet and each other -but Spader and the characterisation brought something new to this worn out trope, it didn’t need cheesy one-liners to break the tension, since it was the tension that was the most intriguing part about his scenes. Also, it felt as though his origin was rushed and felt very “unnatural” excuse the pun.
Tony Stark / Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr can play this role in his sleep by now but the interesting part about AoU is that Tony shows a very different side to him here in an almost obsessive bordering on villainous capacity. While his ego, which in the past has been the best part of his character, here he is shown to be unlikeable in some parts which can be annoying to see but with talks of a “dark side” from Tony himself, it looks to be setting up Captain America 3 in an interesting way.
Steve Rogers / Captain America
Evans is so damn likeable in this role, as always. The character gets a much better chance to shine than with the first Avengers movie, and one major highlight was his one to one battle with Ultron, an impress action scene that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Evans feels much more comfortable also, perhaps since The Winter Soldier did extremely better than Cap’s first outing and it makes me even more excited to see where his character goes from here.
Bruce Banner / Hulk
Unfortunately Hulk doesn’t quite steal the show as he did the last time but Mark Ruffalo does give an emotive performance both as the human Bruce and with motion capture as the Hulk although this time it doesn’t quite make you stand up in protest and yell “We want a Hulk movie!” the big green machine does shine in the bombastic Iron Man battle that will be remembered.
Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Finally! An introduction to Hawkeye, no longer is he a mind-controlled zombie which is even referenced in Whedon’s script with a great line. Hawkeye is the stand-out character in this installment, who has not only his back story developed more (featuring a a warm performance by a welcomed appearance from Linda Cardellini, who HAS to return) but is also a bigger part of the action despite being a human character. Renner gets the role he deserves, the roles that’s owed to him, one with emotional depth, heart and power, bravo!
Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
In many ways she’s been Hawkeyed, it seems Whedon didn’t quite know what to do with her and so she became shoehorned into mostly being just a romantic interest for Bruce Banner and the only person who can calm him down (because she’s the only female?), a decision which is still hard to believe and frankly unecessary, not only does it provide many WTF? moments but it seems even the rest of the team can’t quite get over the fact what’s happening and it proved to be a big distraction. However, she really stands out in the flashback-dream scenes as we get to witness more of her enigmatic Widow training.
Hemsworth as the God of Thunder provides a lot of laughs in this outing and some great action scenes in the big battles but aside from these instances, his storyline feels all over the place, almost half-finished or stalled in many parts as a “vision quest” foreshadowing for his future forced the main plot to lose cohesion as a result.
Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
The twins provide great new additions to the franchise, whose powers signal a new era for the universe, Wanda – with her powers of telekinesis and mind warping, delivers psychological blows to the team that perhaps do more damage than any physical threat they’ve faced, this combined with a shining performance from Elizabeth Olsen makes me so interested to see a lot more of her. However, Whedon misses the mark completely with Pietro, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the character is even given far less dialogue than his female counterpart, also an unecessary decision on the directors part.
Age of Ultron succeeds in giving us a fast-paced, adrenaline ride alongside our favorite heroes and while director and writer Joss Whedon made up for the poor Hawkeye choices in the previous Avengers movie, here he makes more mistakes with Black Widow and Quicksilver, two interesting characters that felt forced and were not utlised as well as they should have been. Several one liners and constant ad-libbing during battles repetitively fall flat and are just plain awkward.
However, despite these flaws it gives you exactly what you want: mind-blowing action, a quick pace and some good psychological character moment, as well as an impressive main villain and interesting new character for Paul Bettany. Oh, and watch out for an unrecognizable Andy Serkis who is impressive in his small role, which I am sure we’ll see again.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is out N
Directed and Written by Joss Whedon Starring: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man Chris Hemsworth as Thor Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / Hulk Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch Paul Bettany as J.A.R.V.I.S and Vision and James Spder as Ultron Also featuring: Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill Linda Cardellini as Laura Barton Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhodes / War Machine Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson / Falcon Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter Idris Elba as Heimdall Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig Claudia Kim as Dr Helen Cho Thomas Kretschmann as Baron Wolfgang von Strucker Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klau Julie Delpy as Madame B