"Avengers: Age of Ultron" Continues Marvel Dominance
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Run Time: 141 minutes
While the first Avenger film was by no means the most intelligent piece of cinema, but it was incredibly uplifting. It was the first time a crossover of this magnitude had ever been attempted, and to great success, featuring solid action from likable characters established over the course of many films.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was also much smaller back in 2012, and is expanding, with newbies such as “Ant Man” and “Doctor Strange” around the corner. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” has the rather demanding task of guiding the MCU through this turbulent period of growth. Hence the sinfully brief appearance of Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue and the new Avengers team who will see action in “Captain America: Civil War.”
That, however, should not protect the film from criticism. As such, I can’t help but notice when the Marvel agenda interrupts the flow of the film. Marvel could not have picked a better director in Joss Whedon, but not even the master of cancelled television was able to hide moments that were clearly corporate decisions rather than artistic ones.
Take the death of Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). It is no secret that the character was on wonky terms being that he an X-Men regular, a property Fox will not soon let go. With this in mind, his abrupt, frustrating death has much context, not in that of the story, but with Marvel’s business relations with Fox. The death itself seems a little out of place, as it comes shortly after the character was starting to get established, provoking frustration over his lost potential rather than feelings of genuine loss.
That being said, “Age of Ultron” is certainly an entertaining flick. The action has been ramped up, as have the baddies. Ultron (James Spader) has far more power than Loki, though the character himself is a bit less menacing. While I enjoy the fun approach Marvel has to making films, it is appropriate to make a villain such as Ultron, a cold-hearted machine out to destroy the human race, a bit dark, but his constant wise cracks and very Tony Stark-ish personality makes it hard to take him seriously.
The team for the most part is the same as before, minus the opening luster that came with seeing so many superheroes in one place, though much has happened since the first Avengers. Captain America (Chris Evans) dealt with internal matters and personal betrayal in “The Winter Soldier”; Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) had to cope with the loss of his suits and home in “Iron Man 3”; and Thor fought for the women he loved in “The Dark World.”
Much has also happened with the minor characters, such as a love affair between Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), which, for all its controversy, did not contract from the quality of the film at all. If anything, it managed to give the characters something to do in an overstuffed cast, and provides an interesting basis from which to develop both heroes from.
What really makes this movie is Paul Bettany’s Vision. While not only being the literal savior of the film, as the android that ends Ultron, J.A.R.V.I.S./The Vision captures a profound kind of grace in his mannerisms and how he wields his notable powers that’ll have audiences mesmerized. Paul Bettany works wonderfully as the artificial hero, by far giving the most fresh performance in a largely been there-done-that kind of film.
Though Age of Ultron is nothing revolutionary and lacks the flare the original had, it’s still a solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie had a lot to do in terms of defining the MCU, and while this harms the film’s ability to stand on its own, Whedon’s careful direction made sure that this is a flick worth paying money for.