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Review - Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers changed the landscape of comic book films on screen, it proved that you can create a wide open universe of characters interacting with each other and inter-connected stories. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is on the top of the mountain of comic book movies currently and they seemingly cannot do wrong as they continue to churn out two movies a year that continue to impress and get better in quality. Last year they did terrific with both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. This year comes the sequel to The Avengers and promises of a darker tone with the introduction of a bevy of new characters from fan favorites such as Scarlet Witch, Vision, Quicksilver and lastly the villainous Ultron. Joss Whedon does an admirable job of balancing all of the characters we've come to know and love while giving enough time to the newer characters in this ever growing universe. It is an incredibly enjoyable ride, yet it does suffer from a few pacing issues and surprisingly a weak villain.
The film follows the Avengers as they are now a well oiled team and right from the get go on the heels of HYDRA to shut them down as well as take any Chitauri weapons off of the market. After successfully doing so and by re-acquiring Loki's Scepter from the grasp of HYDRA, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) sees an opportunity to use the gem inside the scepter to jumpstart a peace program he and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) had been working on with the intention that this program, Ultron, could fight the battles for the Avengers and form a piece of armor around the world from otherworldly forces. However, after using the scepter Ultron becomes aware with the purpose of bringing peace to the world but his intentions become dangerous as he views humanity and the Avengers as a danger to the world. His soul purpose becomes to destroy all life to bring forth a "new world." He recruits the Maximoff twins, Wanda and Pietro, to help him fight the Avengers and with Wanda he aims to break the Avengers from the inside.
The old adage of "A film is as good as it's villain" can be applied to this film. Ultron has so much potential to be both a physical threat but also incredibly intelligent which he is in the film but his origin is rushed in the opening of the film. Another frustrating aspect of Ultron is that he isn't as physically intimidating to the Avengers when it really comes down to it at the end of the day. By that merit, Avengers 1 could be considered the better movie seeing how Loki proved to be the better villain. However, this film did have some better action sequences and interplay between our beloved characters. It also laid out some seeds for future films such as Thor: Ragnarok, Civil War and the Infinity War. Some critics will say that this is a negative for the film, and in some ways it is as Thor's arc in this film gets a little lost from the overall arc. It is a loaded film with a lot of moving parts but Joss Whedon once again does a good job of keeping it all together while giving each character a memorable scene or two. This most notable can be said of Hawkeye who had essentially nothing to do in the first Avengers. In this film however he had some of the more memorable one liners.
Another point of the film that felt a bit forced and really out of nowhere would be the romance building between Banner and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson). In previous films up to this point it seemed that Natasha had a budding romance between Hawkeye and Captain America. The scenes between the two depicting their romance also felt forced and unimportant to the overarching plot of the film, but I completely understand the need to humanize both characters and show new sides of them. A strong suit of these films will always be seeing the characters interact with one another and again the same can be said about this film. From scenes of Thor and Tony essentially having a war of words over which one of their love interests is the better woman, and the recurring joke through the film of Captain America disapproval of bad language.
Of all the new characters the one that is fleshed out the most would be that of Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) who can cast hexes and give visions of what people fear the most. She has a very unique skill set that is much different than anything we have seen thus far and is a welcome addition. Olsen also does a very good job of portraying the character and it is easy to see where her character could figure into the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Less can be said about Aaron Taylor Johnson's Pietro as he is a lesser role than Wanda but the two characters essentially go hand in hand. Another strong addition would be that of Vision who is portrayed perfectly by Paul Bettany and it was also great to see that the character was realized through practical effects as opposed to CGI. It made the larger than life character seem believable as opposed to just another humanoid android walking around. All in all, Avengers: Age of Ultron is yet another solid entry into their ever growing universe and delivers solid fight scenes and humor.