In Avengers Age Of Ultron, our old pals reunite to save the world…again. But having already collectively saved it from alien invaders — and individually from Nazi cultists, medically-enhanced people, Hydra, and space elves — Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye must known save the world…from themselves.
Well, some of their selves, anyway.
After recovering Loki’s scepter, Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downy, Jr.) and Bruce “The Hulk” Banner (Mark Ruffalo) realize they can use it to create artificial intelligence for Ultron, which they want to deploy as a global security system. But since they’ve obviously never seen any of The Terminator movies or The Matrix trilogy, they’re caught off guard when Ultron decides that the best way to protect the Earth is to get rid of all the people.
At its core, Avengers Age Of Ultron has all of the elements that made the first Avengers movie so much fun. Not only does it have all kinds of explosive action, but it also has a smart and sparkling script full of meaty dialog and snappy one-liners.
Even the titular bad guy in Avengers Age Of Ultron, who’s voiced by James Spader, is as fun, feisty, and quick witted as his counterpart in the first one, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Which brings up another bright spot in the film consistent from the first: the cast. As they were in the first one and their own respective Marvel Movies, Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Chris Evans (Captain America), and Downy are rock solid, perfectly cast, and have great chemistry.
Though it helps that the cast of Age Of Ultron are seamlessly joined by Elizabeth Olson, who’s effortless and likeable as Wanda “Scarlet Witch” Maximoff, while Paul Bettany not only reprises his role as J.A.R.V.I.S., but he finally gets a super suit of his own as The Vision.
The only downer in the cast of Avengers Age Of Ultron is Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who plays Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff, and does a good job of it, but not as good (or as fun, or as memorable…) as Evan Peters, who played the character much better in X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Still, he more than holds his own with the movie’s heavyweight champions.
But while Avengers Age Of Ultron has all the same elements as the first one, it’s no more a rehash of that film than a chicken burrito is just a rehash of a chicken taco. And not just because they’re telling a different story. It’s also because it has those same elements, but not in the same proportions. For instance, while this sequel is as funny as the first, it’s more jokey. Similarly, while some of the action scenes in this are as big in scope as those in the first film, it has more of them, though none are as long as the first film’s climactic battle.
Instead, what really sets Avengers Age Of Ultron apart from its predecessor is that while the former was kind of like Iron Man 2.5 — in that it felt like an Iron Man movie that co-starred Cap and the rest — Ultron feels much more like an ensemble film. Hawkeye, for instance, is given a lot more to do, and a lot more depth, than he had in the original.
There are also a couple ballsy choices on the part of writer/director Joss Whedon, though I won’t spoil them here. Nor will I spoil any of the fun cameos, connections to other movies, or the welcome surprises.
As good as Avengers Age Of Ultron may be, though, it’s not without its problems. For starters, Vision looks a little silly. Granted, he also looks a little silly in the comics, but it’s a bit more glaring here. There’s also a couple moments when director Joss Whedon uses some rather cheesy slo-mo, including that much-parodied scene from the trailer of them all flying through the air with the greatest of easy.
Then there’s the romance between Black Widow and The Hulk. While they have some chemistry, it doesn’t make a lot of sense in the context of what’s going on. And that goes double if you saw how Widow and Captain America flirted in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a relationship that makes a lot more sense. Though having said that, the Widow/Hulk hook-up doesn’t feel as forced as romances often do in action flicks (see Commando, Man Of Steel, and the Hobbit trilogy for reference), and it never derails the movie.
In the end, Avengers Age Of Ultron ranks alongside the Iron Man films, the second Captain America movie and the first Avengers as being among Marvel’s best. Which is why, despite being their own worst enemies sometimes, it’s still nice to have these guys back in action.
For a different perspective on the movie, check out Raymond Padilla’s “Random Thoughts” piece here.