ReviewBen Butzow (pestulio07)
Avengers: Age of Ultron
In July of 2013, Kevin Feige took the stage at the Marvel Comics panel at San Diego Comic Con, and teased the sequel to the 2012 blockbuster The Avengers. The dark screen lit up with the words “Age of Ultron,” and the crowd erupted.
Reactions among comic fans were stellar. Non-comic readers, through blank stares and confusion, mumbled, “Who?”
Given how the past several movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) have been teasing the arrival of Thanos, it seems a fair question. Those curious had a long wait, but finally in October 2014, the first trailer was leaked online, accruing tens of millions of views in mere days. It’s safe to say the world is excited for this movie. Does it live up to the hype?
In one word: Hell yes!
Alright, two words.
It is worth noting that since the initial movie of the MCU, Iron Man, released back in 2008, moviegoers have had plenty to keep up with in terms of the series’ overarching plot points. This movie is no exception. If you’re not like me, and haven’t seen every movie multiple times, you may need to do some brushing up on a few characters, and briefly mentioned story arcs from past movies. To get the full effect from Age of Ultron, I suggest re-watching Avengers, Captain America 2, Thor 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy. It also wouldn’t hurt to re-watch Iron Man 3, but it isn’t quite as relevant as the others.
The story picks up three years after its predecessor, as it opens on the team working as a well oiled machine. The good times don’t last forever though, as Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) inadvertently gives birth to artificial intelligence, taking the form of Ultron (James Spader), who believes the only path to peace lies in the destruction of the Avengers. The movie has plenty of subplots between the heroes, but all are easy to follow, and are neatly wrapped up by the end of the movie. While the story is enjoyable, most moviegoers will most likely be looking forward to the action, which Age of Ultron delivers in droves.
Throughout the film’s two hour and twenty minute run time, there are a bevy of beautiful beat-em-ups. The action is frantic, fast paced, fun, and filled with plenty of humor and one-liners sprinkled in. The movie shines in the moments where one or more of Earth’s mightiest heroes pauses mid-combat to deliver one of the movie’s plethora of quotable one-liners.
Anyone who has seen the past Marvel movies knows that Downey’s Tony Stark tends to steal every scene he’s in with his quick wit, and snarky overconfidence. This time around though, everyone gets more than a little taste of the spotlight. Clint Barton, a.k.a. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), however, steals the show. After his minimal role in the initial Avengers film, Barton proves that he’s more than just a bow and arrow, while pumping out some of the most enjoyable lines in the movie.
A close second in terms of humor was the movie’s title villain, Ultron. The previews didn’t set a tone for the character beyond that of “bad guy who wants to rule the world,” but Ultron is so much more. It’s easy to see the correlation between Ultron and his creator, Tony Stark, through their similarly dry yet quick humor and one liners.
Some critics have complained that the movie follows the formula of the original too closely, leading to a near identical movie. This is definitely not the case. The stakes that Ultron sets are much higher than that of the Chitauri invasion from the first movie. The settings and action are bumped up several notches, and since the team is already assembled when the movie starts, there is an immense amount of character development added.
Others complained that it doesn’t impact the Marvel cinematic universe in the same scale as the events of Captain America 2. This may be the case, but to that I have this to say: If you go into every movie in the franchise expecting a massive, universe-changing event or catastrophe, that leaves no room for actual development of the universe. There’s no room to care about those huge catastrophes, since there won’t be anything at stake. This movie’s primary purpose is to prepare for the potential galactic war that will take place in Avengers: Infinity War. In that capacity, the story serves it’s purpose beautifully.
By the time the credits roll, every Avenger has had their time to shine. Coupling this with razor sharp humor and intense fight scenes (sometimes at the same time), an engaging story, and a jaw dropping finale, Avengers: Age of Ultron delivers on all fronts.
Even if you just want a fun, sci-fi action movie, this is it. But for those fans who have been following the Marvel cinematic universe thus far, it all pays off here. This is an absolute must-see, and a fantastic kick off of the 2015 summer blockbuster season.
There is one more thing worth mentioning. Marvel has earned a reputation for their post-credits teaser scenes. Age of Ultron is an exception to this rule. There is a mid-credits scene, but nothing at the end of the credits, as is the norm.