Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron


Avengers: Age of UltronThe day is finally here, and fans assemble for the follow-up to Marvel's 2012 Joss Whedon-directed hit movie The Avengers. This week's new release, Avengers: Age of Ultron, was also written and directed by Whedon, creator of hit TV franchises Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly.

Marvel continues to tie events in its film franchise to its TV series Agents of SHIELD, which provides a plausible reason for the group of superheroes to reunite in search of Loki's sceptre. The sceptre has fallen into dangerous hands in the wake of SHIELD's collapse, as witnessed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Agents of SHIELD. The recapture of that artifact leads to the creation of Ultron, a new and deadly cybernetic enemy bent on the team's destruction.

James Spader voices Ultron, and it's hard not to like the villain perhaps more than the heroes with his matter-of-fact quips and insults, always several steps ahead of the team as he descends into creepy madness.

Whedon is an expert at balancing an ensemble cast, and this is one of the largest to date with 12 major players who all get ample screentime and character development. That said, Avengers: Age of Ultron is very much made for fans and presented with the expectation that the audience will be versed in the backstories of the characters through Marvel's other movies at a minimum, if not Avengers comic-book storylines as well. Students, er, audience members, who haven't done the required reading may find themselves overwhelmed as new characters are introduced and the action jumps from place to place.

There's not much to mention in terms of visuals which are par for these blockbuster movies, though I found the fight sequences frenetic, shot at extreme close-up range and jumping quickly between viewpoints, which made the action at times difficult to follow. Largely, though, the action is secondary to the overall story and dialogue Whedon is juggling.

As Ultron spreads through the internet, gaining power and carrying out his plans, I couldn't help drawing a comparison to films from the 1980s and early 90s such as Electric Dreams and Lawnmower Man, though this movie was somewhat lacking in the spectacular finish one might expect. The peaks are emotionally --not chemically -- explosive, and one is left wanting just a little more, which is of course the intent as plans are already under way for a third Avengers title.

TL;DR version: If you're a fan of Avengers and related Marvel characters, go see Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's a solid film even though it doesn't pack the same punch as the 2012 release.