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Movie Review: Avengers - Age of Ultron (Spoiler Free)
Already seen the film? I have a few more 'uncensored' comments in a review with spoilers, as well as discussing how this film impacts the MCU.
Marvel has been on a role with their films for so long now. This film continues said success but in my own opinion, I don't feel that it packed quite as much of a punch as the first superhero-team up movie. However, don't think I was at all disappointed with the presentation, I only felt that this film doesn't do anything new with the franchise.
Tagging along with the Agents of Shield show (which you really don't have to watch to know what's going on), the audience is thrown immediately into action against Hydra, that shadow organization that was hidden within Hydra. From there, Tony Stark/Iron Man discovers a way of creating a sort of 'shield' around the world to protect it from otherworldly threats, such as the Chitauri from the first Avengers film. In the pursuit of a peace-keeping AI entity, there's also conflict with two more characters, the Maximoff twins (Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch) who were enhanced by Hydra and already have a grudge in place.
During the plot many of the characters are given side-plots that help themselves develop in the universe in addition to also giving glimpses of future installments, most notably the next few Avenger films and Thor: Ragnorak.
The additions to the cast are up to the same quality as the returning cast (it's difficult to say the newest members are exceptional in performance when the rest of the cast already performs just as well as their own characters). While I was initially resilient to David Spader's performance as Ultron, the film gave me enough reason for me to appreciate the cinematic version of the character against his original comic book conception.
The Maximoff Twins (played by Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver), play their parts well, even if they don't get a lot of screen time. The Scarlet Witch demonstrates uncanny movements in her intro, but these are, unfortunately, lost as the film goes on. Differing a bit from the Fox and X-Men incarnation, this Quicksilver is a bit more single-minded and darker. I wish I could say more about the characters, but I found myself a little frustrated with the little interaction they had.
Also, Paul Bettany's role, while welcome and very important to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), played the part of a very flat and abrupt character. I feel his character's presentation was clipped and not much was explained with him. He was suddenly introduced and the endgame of the story began.
The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in their Comic Appearance
We've got 5 returning Avengers, a main antagonist, two 'primary-side' characters, several secondary antagonists, several cameos from previous Marvel titles, and some SHIELD regulars. Is Avengers 2 overstuffed?
In my opinion, yeah, a bit. There are a great many characters I felt were propped up in the film and were either done away with, cameoed from the past, or tagged along with very little screentime.
That being said, considering the gigantic cast, this film does an amazing job of balancing things. Sure, it drops the ball here and there, but considering just how much information, action scenes, and character development that's put into it, it's hard not to be a little impressed. Avengers 2 even tries to remedy some of its past 'faults,' such as giving Hawkeye considerable more screentime as well as more-or-less explanation why he didn't appear in any Marvel Phase 2 films. Even better, while in Avengers Captain America couldn't do anything against Loki, he's got some time to shine against Ultron mano y mano.
So, could a lot of this been fixed by making the film longer or splitting it into two? I wouldn't necessarily say so. This film is dictated by its arc, and I don't believe this incarnation of Ultron had enough potential to spread over two films.
Leaks, Lots and Lots of Leaks
Part of my less than perfect reception for this film I will attribute to the constant samples and leaks of the film. I knew what characters would die thanks to a Youtube comment from a European commenter (as they saw the film about a week before the US had the opportunity), and there's a considerable amount of spoilers given by all the film posters, videos, and general information that was sent out to the general public. True, there's a considerable amount of action scenes that I got to encounter for the first time when seeing the film, but no character appearance was surprising nor was any plot twist.
I have greatly enjoyed the execution for the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far, but since a lot of the films are mirroring the comics (not down to the last detail but the overall story arcs are very similar), it matters a great deal when information is purposefully leaked to the audience. I feel like I have to shut myself away from all media until it's time to see another film.
There's violence, death, and profanity (short of any F-bombs as this is still a superhero film), but this movie is largely in line with the first Avengers film. Expect the same treatment in this film.
There was a thinly veiled comment about "Hiding the zucchini" that caught me off guard though, in relation to the Hulk and what he keeps in his trousers.
The director of the film, Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cabin the Woods, Firefly) also directed the first Avenger film. He really hasn't messed with the rest of the Marvel continuity in film (aside from some Agents of Shield and lots of the Marvel comics) and it kinda shows. Hydra is there due to Captain America 2, but Hydra certainly isn't the big bad. Pepper Potts, Jane Foster, Betty Ross (is she still considered canon anymore even though the previous Hulk movies are?) do not make an appearance, but the first two are humorously referenced. There's no Agents of Shield references, nothing associated with Antman or Guardians of the Galaxy (which the latter is definitely fine since it's basically another 'universe' away).
In essence, you kinda get the feeling that Whedon doesn't necessarily like building on individual character stories. Sure, the film has plenty of references to the future installments, but sometimes even a single line regarding Loki's apparent death or the fact that Iron Man 3 proudly proclaimed there was no more Iron Man (a film I'm happy to forget) could go a long way. It really doesn't detract from this specific film experience, however, it's more of me being nitpicky.
All in all, this film is a wonderful addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Those familiar with the franchise, even if they haven't seen all the movies prior, can still enjoy what's happening. Not a fan of Thor or Iron Man films? Even Captain America 2 isn't really that necessary to pick off where this film starts. Still, someone who's never experienced any film in the Marvel universe shouldn't not simply jump into this one as it literally drops the audience into immediate action with very little explaining what's going on. It does benefit the watcher to know the pre-existing properties.
Granted, as more mindless summer blockbusters go, Avengers: Age of Ultron is fantastic and is sure to probably top the box office for some time to come. If you're a fan of Marvel or superhero movies in general, you'll want to see this, but I'm guessing you've probably already decided to.
If you've already seen the film, check out a few more points I didn't cover here due to spoilers, and my comments of the MCU's current state of being.
- More of the same of the first Avengers
- Same quality, better story
- Suffers a little bit with being overpacked
- Some sexual references and profanity; pretty much the same way Avengers was
Do you plan on seeing this film?
Check out some of my other reviews of summer films in 2015.