If you haven’t seen the first Avengers movie, then you’ve probably been hiding under a rock or frankly, just don’t care about superheroes and huge aliens, which is okay.
The first movie introduced us to the major characters in the acclaimed Marvel universe; fan favorites from the Marvel comic books like Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black-Widow, Hawkeye, and notorious villain, Loki. While most of these characters return, one notable absence is Tom Hiddleston’s character, Loki.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is set a little while after the events of the first movie and centers on Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), who is paranoid about another alien invasion. He designs Ultron as a way to ensure that his vision for peace on Earth is realized. His plans go awry when Ultron grows stronger than expected as a result of its merging with a stone, found in Loki’s scepter from the first Avengers movie.
This AI, the titular antagonist, Ultron, decides to wipe out the world and sees this as a means to completing Iron Man’s vision of peace on earth. Thus, the battle between the Avengers and Ultron begins. Cue in clever one-liners, tons of explosions and James Spader (NBC’s The Blacklist) as Ultron and what you have is a movie that, in this writer’s opinion, is better than the first entry into this series.
The casting is excellent. Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as Thor, Scarlett Johansson is Black Widow who is a previously deadly assassin turned SHIELD agent and master spy. Other notable performances include Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk and Samuel L. Jackson as the formidable Nick Fury.
The acting is good for the most part and even the extras feel like they give more weight to the plot and scenes they are involved in. The star performance goes to James Spader, his portrayal of AI turned psychotic villain Ultron is great. Ultron delivers even the most threatening dialogue with dry humor, quirkiness, and it works. The deep emotional bond between Black Widow and The Hulk is meaningful enough to let you feel the connection between them, but never becomes so overwhelming that it takes a whole life of its own. On the other hand, the implied triangle between Black Widow and two other members of the team does nothing to further the plot and is childish at best.
Director Joss Whedon (Marvel Avengers, 2012) succeeds in making a big action movie that doesn’t lose its major characters in a haze of explosions and incredible visual effects. You feel more connected to the struggles of certain characters, find out about the lives and histories of these heroes outside their roles as punching bags for Ultron and his cohorts. We are also introduced to some comic book favorites but sadly, the exploration of these new characters leaves you slightly disappointed.
The visual style is as good as it gets for a fast-paced action epic and the costume design is top-notch, and my favorite is certainly Ultron. Scarlett Witch also gets a nod.
The music and score are good, if nothing spectacular, but Whedon’s second entry into the Avengers series is by far the most well-rounded effort to bring these famous and lovable Marvel Universe heroes to the big screen.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a fun, fast-paced and massive action piece to kick-start your summer movie schedule and in this writer’s opinion, a solid if not stellar entry into the series. Director Joss Whedon makes this movie work. He learns from the first Avengers movie and changes just enough to make this sequel feel fresh.