Avengers: Age of Ultron
Origins of the Avengers
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: Joss Whedon, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba, Hayley Atwell, Linda Cardellini, Stellan Skarsgård, Stan Lee, Claudia Kim, Thomas Kretschmann, Andy Serkis, Julie Delpy, Henry Goodman
Synopsis: When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it's up to Earth's Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments. |
Origins of Ultron
Avengers reference in South Park (Warning: Contains Violent Images and adult language. Parental discretion is advised)
6.9 / 10
- Great visual effects
- 3-D conversion was serviceable.
- Sound effects were perfect
- art direction was creative
- The story had some interesting ideas that would've been great to explore
- Direction was good
- Actors do a great job; particularly Mark Ruffalo and Scarlet Johansson
- Weak script that suffers from too many subplots
- Slight continuity error between "Iron Man 3" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron"
- Rushed character development
- Although the love story between Black Widow and Hulk was interesting, it felt a bit rushed because it literally came out of nowhere.
- The origin story for Vision was rushed, as you barely get a sense of who he is as a character.
Warning: Contains Suggestive Themes. Parental Discretion is advised.
Like "300", the original "Avengers" film continues to get worse every time I see it. Granted, I still like it, as it's a fun action flick in ilk of something like "Furious 7", where you can turn off your brain and enjoy the ride. Unlike Christopher Nolan's brilliant "Dark Knight" movie that featured an intense interrogation that oozed with symbolism, "Avengers" had a scene where Hulk calls Loki a puny god, after slamming him into the ground a few times like a rag doll. If you look at the plot of the "Avengers", it was nothing more than a generic alien invasion story with superheroes. In fact, you could argue that "The Avengers" is one of the main reasons why people often associate the terms "light hearted and fun" with most Marvel films.
If you honestly think about it, "The Avengers" film was hyped around a novelty. At the time, no other movie studio ever tried to do expanded universes before with comic book characters. Don't get me wrong, it's not like the whole expanded universe concept hasn't been done before.
Kevin Smith has been doing that with some of his best indie films for years. Hell, if you want to go back even further, you could argue that the mere concept of an expanded cinematic universe technically started back in the days when you'd see Mork (from "Mork and MIndy") crossover into "Happy Days" on TV. Therefore, the concept of an expanded universe isn't new when it comes to entertainment mediums, but you could argue that Marvel Studios has been doing it better than almost everyone else thus far.
However, the problem with basing a movie franchise off a novelty is that eventually it wears off. Look at the "Expendables" franchise for proof of this.
That franchise was put together off a novelty of every 80's fanboy's wet dream of being able to see all their favorite action heroes kick a** on the big screen together for the first time. However, Stallone overestimated his own writing skills, as he shifted the story to focus more on a bunch of unknown young actors in "Expendables 3." Big mistake because that's not why people loved watching the first two films. It was to see their favorite 80's action heroes kicking ass, and taking names. Not to watch a bunch of no name bums that can't act for s***.
In a lot of ways, you can say that both "The Expendables" and "The Avengers" were huge hits because of their novel concepts. "The Avengers" didn't have the deepest story in the world, but it didn't have to.
All it needed to deliver on was servicing every fanboy's wet dream of seeing the Avengers in action. Why else do you think Joss Whedon carefully orchestrated that rotating camera shot of the Avengers standing in a circle together; almost back to back to one another. It was jaw dropping, as fanboys creamed their pants during that moment. Why else would the film conveniently feature a scene with the Hulk fighting Thor? The truth of the matter is the entire "Avengers" movie was nothing more than fan pandering, and people ate it up because there wasn't any other superhero movie like it at the time.
I know a lot of fanboys whine and bitch about how much "The Dark Knight" sucks because it doesn't lead into any expanded universe where Superman or any other hero exists. However, the problem that you run into when you create an expanded universe is that you can sometimes you end up sacrificing the quality of individual stories for the benefit of maintaining the overarching lore; while alienating the potential of new audiences to join in down the road.
Hell, if you didn't see any of the Marvel phase 1 movies prior to the first "Avengers" film, then you'd be completely lost watching it. However, should a great movie really REQUIRE you to do any extra homework just to comprehend what's going on? Like the great Roger Ebert once said, a great story should be good enough to stand on it's own merit; hence it shouldn't require you to do any extra homework in order to comprehend what's going on in it. Sadly, "The Avengers" does force people to do that, as it's part of an arching continuous story within the MCU.
Granted, this type of storytelling can lend itself to setting up great movies like "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" for instance, while having a strong social commentary on various real world events. But at other times, it can detract from the quality of the story because some individual ones are forced to cram in so many subplots to set up future events that it hardly allows the current one to prosper into something great on it's own merit. This is where Nolan's "Dark Knight trilogy" had a clear advantage in it's overall quality.
Because it didn't have the pestering problem of setting up any other future movies or franchises, Nolan was free do whatever he wanted with his story. He never had to worry about cramming in any unnecessary subplots to set up the next Green Lantern or Superman film, while trying to tell a cohesive story about Batman. No, he only had to focus on where he wanted to take Batman through each individual film that he directed, and it paid off in spades. Whereas "The Avengers: Age of Ultron", it's a decent popcorn movie, but the problem it suffers from is that it has the daunting task of setting up so many future movies that it rarely ever has time to breath on it's own.
The basic plot is that Tony Stark accidentally creates an artificial A.I. that becomes self aware and tries to destroy the world. Wait did Tony Stark create skynet? Not exactly, but he does create a powerful entity known as Ultron, who firmly believes that humanity must die for the benefit of the planet.
Needless to say, our heroes rise to the challenge to stop him, but he proves to be far too powerful to stop alone. Along the way, they encounter the twins, Quicksilver (Arron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), whose motives are as mysterious as their origins. Hawkeye gets a bit more of a back story, as does Black Widow.
Thor has a vision, which is supposed to set up his third solo film. And of course, you have the forbidden love story between Bruce Banner and Black Widow. By the way, did I forget to mention that somehow all these events lead to the creation of their newest member, the Vision?
If you're wondering how they're able to cram so many subplots into one movie, then the simple answer is they don't. What you end up with is one steaming hot mess of subplots that are unnecessarily shoved into the story in order to set up various future projects for Marvel Studios.
Granted, you can argue this move was necessary to set up the overarching continuity of their future films, but it sadly comes at the cost of what could've been a great movie overall. Hawkeye's story arc was touching, and he definitely proves to be the heart and soul of the team, but it went by far too quick. We barely even have time to get to know who the twins are in this film, and the alleged romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner feels a bit forced considering it comes literally out of nowhere.
And don't even get me started on Vision, as his origin story is arguably the most rushed one of all. Sure, you can tell Joss Whedon tries to deliver a great movie for us, as there's definitely elements of what could've been used to create a compelling story, and he might've pulled it off if this was more of a self contained franchise. Sadly, it's not. As I mentioned before, the film itself never has time to breath because it's riddled with subplots that are necessary to carry on it's overarching narrative, which sadly makes most of the film either come off rushed or poorly written half the time.
Another problem that I noticed about this film was how it contradicts the ending to "Iron Man 3" to some extent. Although I'm sure a lot of pompous Marvel fanboys will correct me saying, "But Steven! Joss Whedon and/or Kevin Feige said blah blah." Yes, I know they might've explained this in interviews or some bulls*** DVD commentary, but here's the thing. Not everyone is going to see those interviews and/or DVD commentaries where they explain minor details like this; hence even if you don't consider this next point a huge plot hole within the story itself, then you still have to admit it's a lazy form of writing because it's not explained cohesively within the story itself.
For those of you that haven't seen "Iron Man 3" yet, then I would advise skipping to the end of this review. However, if you've already seen it, or you simply don't give a s*** about spoilers, then please read on at your own leisure. At the end of "Iron Man 3", it was heavily implied that Tony Stark had moved on from being Iron Man, and there was even a scene where he ordered to have most of his suits self destruct at the end.
Yet when you watch "Avengers: Age of Ultron", it's almost like it never happened. Tony Stark still has one Iron Man suit left, and he apparently uses drones periodically to help out the avengers. My only questions would be..... What the hell happened? What made Tony Stark decide to keep one damn suit? Why not keep all of them if he was going to continue being Iron Man? What the hell happened to him that caused him to change his mind from seemingly wanting to retire from being Iron Man again, to suddenly acting like it never happened? And if you were going to continue being Iron Man anyway, then wouldn't you want keep those extra suits around just in case you need them?
For a film series that prides itself on the perfection within it's own continuity, it seems rather odd that the "Avengers: Age of Ultron" contradicts said continuity of "Iron Man 3", a film that allegedly takes place in the same damn universe and BEFORE "Avengers: Age of Ultron."
As for the technical aspects to this film, everything is pretty much spot on like it should be. The CGI, sound editing, sound mixing, and cinematography seem fairly well done for the most part. Definitely well choreographed. And like the last "Avengers" movie, "Avengers: Age of Ultron" has it's own fan service scenes to appease the die hard comic nerds out there; namely it's infamous Hulk vs Iron Man in his "Hulk Bustersuit." Again if "Iron Man" quit being Iron Man at the end of "Iron Man 3", then why the hell did he bother making a Hulk buster suit? It just doesn't make a lot of sense.
Yes, I know it's probably explained in one of those random bulls*** Marvel TV shows, interviews, or DVD commentaries, but a great film shouldn't have to require it's viewers to do extra homework just to figure out what's going on.
As for the actors, they played their parts rather well. It's almost a shame that Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson didn't get more screen time, as they had arguably the best performances throughout the film.
Overall, I wouldn't say that "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a bad movie by any means. Like it's predecessor, it's a lot of fun to watch if your into light hearted fun superhero movies chalked full of fan service. However, I wouldn't expect too much out of it, in terms of substance. Definitely worth renting once it comes out on Netflix, but I wouldn't pay to see this one in theaters.
© 2015 Steven Escareno
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