Avengers 2: critical review (Spoiler alert)
As much as it pains me to say it, no really it hurts me emotionally, Avengers: Age of Ultron really wasn't that great. at best i gave the movie a 6 out of 10. Although the movie does have some great moments and some great foreshadowing as to what Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has in store for us, overall it was not one of Joss Whedon's best pieces of work.
I do have some great things to say about the movie, but i'm going to leave those for the end and present my argument for what could have been better, first.
Too many characters
up until this point Marvel has done a great job of ensuring each of their characters received enough screen time per movie to make them interesting and deliver a great story, but Avengers 2 falls short in this category.
So many super heroes were crammed into the multi million dollar production that Hawk Eye, the Avenger we knew the least about going into the movie, only received 12 minutes of screen time.
Coupled with cramming the origin stories of three brand new avengers and the very quickly/ awkwardly introduced Ultron, it was simply to many stories and too many characters for a three hour film.
The movie felt rushed, i mean the vision is born during the last 20 minutes of the movie and is becomes and official team member five minutes later.
The sad part is that Marvel had ample opportunity to do it the right way, the way they did with the original Avengers movie, but opted out of it.
In Marvel's defense, they did technically introduce Quick Silver and the Scarlet Witch in the Captain America: Winter Soldier post credits scene and expanded on how they received their powers in a comic book tie in to the MCU, but their introduction in the movie still felt very rushed and was unexplained until Quicksilver's monologue when he first meets Ultron. I felt it would have been more effective if they randomly popped up as enhanced Hydra Agents in one of the previous movies and then flushed out their story in Avengers 2, but sadly, this was not done.
Another New character from out of the blue was Dr. Helen Cho, who is responsible for developing the technology that creates the Vision. Her introduction was also very abrupt as if she came out of nowhere. She could easily have been introduced in a prior movie or on Agents of Shield, but instead they gave us yet another character who was not properly fleshed out by the end of the film.
The issue of too many heroes in one story alone dropped my rating of the film down to at least a 7. There is only one way a movie with so many characters works and that's if you focus on the new characters and kind of just let the established ones lean back and fight the good fight with minimal screen time, such as in the case of War Machine who only had three minutes of screen time in the whole film but did get some Avenging in during the final battle.
The Death of Quicksilver
This was by far the most horrid twist in comic book movie history. Pietro Maximoff after a fantastically delivered origin story monologue and sharing a real moment with Captain America is killed while saving Hawkeye and a young boy. His death was heroic, but the whole affair of introducing one of the most beloved and emotionally interesting characters in the Avengers comics only to kill him off by the end of the film was an insult to every fan and makes zero sense when you consider what Marvel has in store for Phase 3.
Its true that the MCU has taken liberties and rewritten origin stories for characters to make it work with the universe they are creating, and up until this point, i was completely on board. Killing of Maximoff is where i draw the line. I was very let down that we will never see this character return to the big screen, especially since Aaron Taylor-Johnson did such a fantastic job portraying the character.
I'm really hoping that they pull a classic comic book "oh look he came back from the dead" and bring him back into the MCU.
The Hulk and Widow Romance
This was such an incredibly terrible example of bad writing and bad acting. I knew this was a bad idea going into the film and came out realizing it was much, much worse. The love story between the Hulk and Black Widow was so bad, that the movie would automatically jump back up a point or two if they just removed these scenes from the movie all together.
Their love is a back and forth game of Banner not believing she is interested because he does not trust a word that comes out of the spy's mouth and Black Widow's, great and terribly devastating revelation that she can never have children is her reason for why they're meant for each other.
Lame, lame and lame.
Then to top it all off, their romance never actually gets off the ground, because the Hulk decides to just leave the Avengers and Black Widow behind. The only saving grace to their tragic love story is that with the Hulk no longer on the Avengers' roster, it opens up the MCU for stories, such as Planet Hulk and World War Hulk.
Elizabeth Olsen was a terrible choice.
Ive said this from the moment she was confirmed for the role, Elizabeth Olsen does not look like any incarnation of the Scarlet Witch and is a terrible actress. This movie confirmed it. In all seriousness, her Eastern European Accent was terrible. She has three facial features throughout the whole movie and the character needed a pep talk from a non super powered Avenger to get her to realize she needed to woman up for the final battle.
Her acting was so terrible that i would wholeheartedly approve of just replacing her with Mila Kunis, the actress who should have received the role, and pretending that Olsen was never seen in the franchise.
The portrayal of Wanda Maximoff's powers was also... weird. Whedon completely removed Hex Bolts from her cadre of powers and the way they portrayed her telekinetic abilities, was just, awful.
Ultron fell short
Ultron's story felt rushed, but not so rushed that i would call it a deal breaker. Ultimately i had two complaints about Ultron.
First, why was Raymond Reddington, from the Blacklist, digitally imprinted into the android's brain? James Spader is a great actor, but Ultron literally spoke and even gave aside comments in a manner identical to Spader's character on the Blacklist. I realize he was casted for the voice acting role because of the peculiar manner that Spader delivers lines while down playing the evil behind his words, but it was literally identical. I'm sorry, but its not acting if you just portray yourself in movies rather than adjusting how you deliver a performance to match the character.
Second, he just wasn't evil enough. Marvel has been portraying so many of these misunderstood villains, such as the Winter Soldier and Loki, that it seems like they are trying to make the truly evil and malevolent characters, such as Ultron, into more complex beings with a conscious. Ultron is just plain bad, that's what i expected. Not some robot who wants to wipe out humanity because he believes its the only way to save it.
The Bright Side
There is a lot more i could critically attack, such as the lame tie in to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Maria Hill awkwardly removing glass from her foot or Captain America popping up awkwardly in two consecutive scenes that happen in different places, but ill skip ahead to what was done very well in the movie.
The set up for Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok was excellent. By the end of the movie there is obvious tension between Iron Man and Cap America, and Thor spent most of the movie on a vision quest eluding to the end of Asgard.
We also finally get Hawk Eye's re-imagined backstory. Unfortunately the archer will not be marrying Mockingbird from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., as his comic book counterpart does, but it turns out he has an entire family living on a farm. The existence of his farm and family being one of Nick Fury's most closely guarded secrets. Although im not sure how i feel about the secret family part of the story, Barton gets to really spread his wings in this movie as a bonafide badass in his own right and as the glue that keeps the team together when they are nearly torn apart. His mentorship of Scarlet Witch and his willingness to sacrifice himself to save a young boy really cemented him as an Avenger despite his lack of superpowers.
I also like that they are addressing the too little screen time per character issue by swapping out the old team of Avengers with a new team of established characters, while continuing the stories of the original team members in separate films. It's a comic book solution for a movie problem, which as a comic fan, i think was done very well.
The most important reason to actually see the movie, it's funny. No i mean really funny. The movie begins with Captain America making a comment about not using foul language while on mission, which turns into a running joke through the film culminating with Nick Fury saying "ooh do you kiss your mother with that mouth," after Cap calls Ultron a bastard.
The laughs don't end there, by the end of the movie everyone has had one or three funny moments, multiplied by 12 characters, it really is non stop laughs in between the movie's darker undertones.
Yes i did give the movie a low rating, but it is still worth watching in theaters because it is the latest chapter of the MCU, and the Avengers action packed violence and final battle are worth watching on the big screen.