Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Out now on DVD and Blu-ray, Avengers: Age of Ultron is the latest film (apart from Ant-Man) in the now expansive Marvel film canon. It had a lot of things to achieve. It needed to be as good as people have come to expect from Marvel in the past, it needed to be bigger than the first Avengers, it needed to lay the foundations for the next few films and it had to please the Whedonites. Does it succeed? Read on! 

This sequel to the 2012 original sees Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ resident scientists, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, create a worldwide peacekeeping programme to really keep the bad guys at bay. As is the norm with films of this ilk, things quickly go awry and Ultron is created. This sees the team bouncing all over the world in an effort to stop it. Since the first film, the Marvel cinematic universe has expanded a whole lot. In this film alone there is at least ten central characters to keep track off. The acting is still great though so the majority of characters are entertaining to watch (although Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver is irritating with his fake Russian accent). And with this being a Joss Whedon film, I bet you’re all expecting that witty, snappy dialogue! There are some great lines in the film, like Hawkeye’s line, “The city is flying and we're fighting an army of robots. And I have a bow and arrow. Nothing makes sense.” Joss Whedon is a good writer and he brings the characters to life and he makes what might have been a pretentious film as the trailer’s suggested (the Pinocchio song in the trailer was a bit much guys) more funny and light-hearted than you’d expect. Although with all the talk of cuts this film went through you wonder what HE wanted the final product to look like.

Joss Whedon writes those clever sarcastic characters really well, like Tony Stark. But in this film one too many characters sound like Tony Stark. They all have these quick-witted one-liners that on a few occasions reminds you that you’re watching a film written by Joss Whedon. The worst example of a Whedon-ism is the speech Andy Serkis’s character gives about cuttlefish which just borders on annoying. But luckily the vast majority of the dialogue is good so it’s easy to forgive these few Whedon-y moments.

There is some delving into the character’s psyches in Age of Ultron and that stuff works really well. Seeing the minds of the heroes is a nice touch, except in Thor’s case in which it leads him off into a subplot that was really not needed. It feels like set up for Thor 3 and not an integral part of the plot. There is however an excellent, unexpected subplot about Hawkeye and his family. This is a great addition, if only because Jeremy Renner is a fantastic actor and it’s about time he got some more story!

People have noted recently that Marvel has a problem with it’s villains. Ronan in Guardians of the Galaxy was pretty crap and does anyone even remember Christopher Eccleston was in Thor 2? I don’t think that’s the case with Ultron. His plan to save humanity by eradicating it makes sense, to him at least. He’s also pretty charismatic. People had a problem with how funny he was, that he wasn’t the serious villain that he was advertised as. But for me it was a breath of fresh air to have a funny and unexpected villain as opposed to the boring villains we’ve had recently. With that being said, his ending in the film is pretty disappointing. I won’t spoil it but don’t expect a big finale with Ultron. Also the film is called the ‘Age’ of Ultron, which means his ‘age’ only lasts a couple of days. He never quite lives up to the threat he’s built up as.

Despite one particular scene in a boat in which it gets a little too cluttered, the action in Age of Ultron is really well done. The standout fight is the Hulkbuster fight about halfway through, which sees the Hulk go up against Iron Man in some pretty giant armour. It’s well made and it is original, and it’s awesome to see the two characters duking it out. The ending action scene is great too, an over the top set piece straight out of a comic book in which a city floats above the ground. Each member of the team gets a chance to shine, and seeing them all balanced perfectly with one another makes you realise when it’s done right, it doesn’t matter how many characters there are.

The film overall is better than the first, more action and more superheroes. But to some that may not be enough. At this point in the Marvel cinematic universe we are really expecting a little bit more, something more original. To keep the run of superhero movies going the creators need to be creative. Ant-Man knew that and delivered a film that was unlike any other we’ve had. Age of Ultron is basically just The Avengers 2.0. and for some that will be more than enough, but for others it may leave them craving something more.

The comic book fan in me really, really enjoyed Age of Ultron. It’s fast, funny and has some scenes in it that I’ve wanted to see since being a little kid. Seeing Cap and Iron Man argue foreshadows the beginning of the Civil War and I cannot wait. For that the film gets four stars. If, however, you have not grown up with these characters or you expected something to twist the Marvel Universe on it’s head, or something gritty and serious, then you will be disappointed. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron gets 4/5 stars.


Jack Bumby

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