While the Avengers are taking down the last remnants of Hydra, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) stumbles across a highly advanced form of artificial intelligence that both he and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) form into Ultron. Intending Ultron to be a “super” protector of Earth, it awakens to perceive mankind as a threat and begins plans for global destruction.
Everyone going into this movie has the expectation that Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be epic. After all, this is what Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy have been building up towards. And as the concluding act in Marvel’s Phase Two of their Cinematic Universe, Age of Ultron is epic in every sense of the world. Keep in mind that while this is the second Avengers movie, it is in fact the 11th chapter of this behemoth of a franchise. Thus, to fully appreciate the scope of this story, you would have had to watch all ten previous films as well as the tie in TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And you thought you had a lot of homework in school. The aim of Avengers: Age of Ultron is two-fold: it wants to provide a plot that can stand on its own with a mega adversary in the form of a highly intelligent robot that is connected to every aspect of cyberspace, and it also wants to sow the seeds for the Phase Three films. Perhaps the film is overreaching, but what it does extremely well is develop its characters. With a multitude of new and returning heroes, writer director Joss Whedon gives every character ample screen time, not to mention a personal conflict that they spend the entire movie trying to overcome.
The film’s best performances are given by the least super of our heroes: Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson. Renner shares as much screen time as Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America (Chris Evans). We learn a lot more about his character, Hawkeye, and Renner is able to translate this development into a fully well rounded human who fights, loves, laughs, and could kill you with a blink of an eye. As Natasha/Black Widow begins to exhibit romantic feelings towards Bruce Banner, Johansson manages to successfully portray Natasha’s more vulnerable side. She still kicks ass with wit, strength, and smarts, but instead of flirting to manipulate, Johansson displays a desirability that you can’t help but root for Black Widow and the Hulk to share a moment together. The film’s newest characters, Quiksilver and Scarlet Witch, played by Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen respectively, are adequate. Nothing special, unless you like hearing broken Russian accents. In terms of voice acting, James Spader nails it as Ultron. His voice is a lot less filtered than I initially thought, and he gives Ultron not only a menacing a freaky presence, but also very human-like qualities. Overall, the acting by the entire cast enhances the characters and their growth, including a new character who represents an entirely new Vision…
Avengers: Age of Ultron is sheer fun, but it doesn’t forsake story or character for spectacle. I will admit that the first act of the film had me a little irritated since two cities are blown up and the film had barely made time for true plot. But then the film slows right down in a very unexpected yet pleasing way. For a good half hour, the film focuses heavily on character building, which was an extremely ambitious move for this kind of film. That’s when I truly connected with the protagonists in a way that I actually cared about them and this story. This is completely attributed to Joss Whedon’s uncanny ability to build great, dynamic heroes who are as flawed as they are admirable.
There are two kinds of people who will not enjoy Avengers: Age of Ultron: 1) Those who are beginning to suffer from franchise fatigue, and 2) Those who are sick of watching cities get demolished. I am in neither camp. I still love what Marvel is doing with their Cinematic Universe. I think Joss Whedon has created an incredibly thoughtful, humour filled, and incredibly action packed spectacle. But perhaps the best thing about the film is that it acknowledges that the actions of our heroes have consequences. It’s one thing to watch a bunch of titans collide in the middle of a downtown and destroy homes. But it’s another thing entirely to watch a film where its protagonists have to face and live with the destruction they caused. Simply put, I absolutely loved this movie. It was a total blast for me from beginning to end, one that you can’t afford to miss!