I don’t think there is a film I have been more looking forward to seeing this year. I love the original Avengers film, in fact it’s probably by favourite Superhero Movie and in my Top Ten Favourite Films of all time. I would almost say it was a perfect film and was exactly what the fans were asking for. Joss Whedon has been teasing at this sequel since pretty much the end of the first film, building it up big time and we have been on tenterhooks watching each Marvel film before this to fill the gap while we have been waiting. Fans have been really looking forward to this one, especially considering that one of the biggest villains in the Universe, Ultron was going to be a part of this film and we get an introduction to several other characters yet to make their way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But this film has a lot to live up to. The first one was critically praised, is called by a lot of people “the greatest superhero movie” ever made and is the highest grossing superhero film based on a comic ever. That’s a lot to live up to, but if anyone can do it, it’s Joss Whedon. So now that I have actually seen this sequel, you are all looking forward to hearing how good it is and my advice would already be to go to the cinema to see this film and I will give you the reasons why right now!! But don’t worry, this review as usual, will be spoiler free and considering how quickly people talk about films on the internet, my advise right now is do not read too much about this film prior to seeing it.
The plot picks up pretty much just after the conclusion of Captain America The Winter Soldier with the Avengers taking down the last of Hydra’s Factions. Following this, Tony Stark aka Iron Man (played once again by Robert Downing Jr) together with Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, (played by Mark Ruffalo) develop an artificial intelligence called Ultron, (played by James Spader) based on the technology retrieved from Loki’s Staff from the first film that was recovered during a raid. Ultron, however, developing his own conclusion on Tony Stark’s idea for peace in their lifetime has interpreted this as the Avengers are causing chaos in the world and must be destroyed. Before I go any further there is an Avengers Age of Ultron prelude comic available but I wouldn’t buy it on the basis of that it doesn’t have peticulary necessary information that you need to know about before seeing the film. The comic purely explains how Hydra got their hands on Loki Staff at the end of the last couple of films and briefly sets up the characters of Pietro Maximoff aka Quicksilver and Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch and even then not very well. There are a few back up stories from the 60’s and later on that explore Ultrons’s character and The Vision and if you want a good background on those characters prior to the film I would definitely recommend picking it up.
Marvel once again has been building this film up brilliantly. Like the first film, it feels like all the films of Phase 2 have been building up to this point with the Avengers coming back together and the film wastes no time in getting the characters back together as a team. In fact there is not real scene establishing them getting back together and I am actually not annoyed by this as with a run time of 150 minutes this allows everything to be put in place and we know the Avengers are going to get back together so honestly it would be a waste of time. This film, however does bank on the fact that you’ve seen Captain America The Winter Soldier and the previous Avengers Assemble film and if you haven’t seen either of those I would recommend that you see both of them prior to seeing this one though it’s not entirely essential. It also has a slight reference to the conclusion to Guardians of the Galaxy but I don’t think you necessarily have to see that one to understand this one. If you are a comic fan, take out of your head the title, this really is not like The Age of Ultron Event Comic, its a pretty much “in name” movie only but this will not detract from the enjoyment of the film. It is a really well paced, well told story. Joss Whedon hits another one out of the park. What Joss Whedon does well is, get a lot of characters on screen, and gives them all something to do, make them all likeable and have a role to play. I think he does this on a lot of levels even better than the first film especially considering that Hawkeye (played once again by Jeremy Renner) is given a lot larger role this time which is great considering he pretty much was given the least to do in the first film. What’s great about this film is also the fact that Whedon has managed to find a way to get a lot more characters than we were expecting in the film. Yes we all knew that this film was going to have Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and The Vision, but how many people were expecting War Machine to turn up and play a large role or have a quick cameo from Falcon. These characters appearing works well because it further adds to the idea that this is a living breathing Universe with tons of inter-connected plots. What’s also great about this film is each character seems to almost have an individual plot, but it all ties together to form a coherent narrative. The film also builds pretty well and as a result, by the time we reach the climax of the film, it feels pretty rewarding and believe me there is, once again, never a dull moment on screen. If you liked the first film’s pacing and direction, this follows pretty much the same direction so it should be up your street. This film, however does go into some darker turns, but once again this is to the films’s benefit, let’s face it you wouldn’t want an exact replica of the first one!!
The major thing to talk about is the major editions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, mainly Ultron. Ultron in this film is great!! He is one bad ass villain and does feel big enough to warrant the Avengers coming together to take him down. I’m not sure how he is going to work in the long run, because he is following Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and while James Spader plays this role very well he will still be compared too much to Loki. It’s a similar situation as Tom Hardy playing Bane from Heath Ledgers Joker in the Dark Knight Trilogy. This will, however be an unfair comparison on both parts because for one thing Tom Hardy’s Bane had more Flawed Material to work with compared to Heath Ledger’s Joker Whereas Tom Hiddleston and James Spader have more consistent material and second the two villains are completely different and should therefore be played in completely different ways and Spader does play this role completely differently to Hiddleston’s Loki but I will get into that more in the acting section. This film also did Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch really well. They are written to be like their comic counterparts and they appropriately are given enough to do, they are not just the ‘spare wheel’ or an excuse to add more characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that is excellent considering they have played such a large role in various incarnation of the Avengers in the comics. Once again Captain America is portrayed as the perfect leader for the Avengers, Iron Man and Bruce Banner are once again the brains. The Hulk is in this film even more than the first film but he is not too over-exposed fortunately and in fact he gets one of the best fight scenes in the middle of the film Thor is given a rather interesting sub-plot even though I’m not sure is quite fully resolved by the end of the film and hopefully we will get more detail on that in Thor: Ragnarok. Black Widow got surprisingly more interesting than she has been in the last two films especially when we get more of an insight into her back story. I did have a couple of problems with this plot. Mainly that I am not really buying into the Bruce Banned/Black Widow relationship that much, it really comes out of nowhere and just feels like artificial ways to extend their roles in the film.
A lot of this film is really building up to Phase 3 of Marvel and as a result it might make the film seem like the weakest of the Avenger films when the Infinity War comes out because this film was spending a portion of its time building up that film and by Extension Phase 3 and that can be slightly annoying because I think the first film did a better job of balancing a conclusion to that phase of Marvel and hyping us up for future movies. With that being said we are all excited for Infinity War so it’s not that much of a negative! Is there anything more I need to say about the writing? It’s Joss Whedon’s writing and direction!! The guy does excellent characters and excellent snarky dialogue which did have the audience I was with ’laughing in droves’ and he also has written one of the best Stan Lee cameos in any of these films. If you like these characters, you are going to like this plot. No one is left out, everyone is taken advantage of and it did an especially good job in quickly introducing and getting us behind new characters like Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch and especially Vision who while he isn’t in the film long, he is portrayed excellently. Whedon has done an excellent job here in the writing department.
Acting wise, there really isn’t much more to say about this one, especially considering that most of the actors in these films are playing these characters for the fourth or fifth time. My thoughts are they were good actors in all their previous films and they are still good here. Robert Downey Jr was born to play Ironman, Chis Evans is once again excellent as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth is perfectly cast as Thor, Mark Ruffalo is once again perfect as Bruce Banner and the Hulk, Scarlet Johansson really hits it out of the park as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner is starting to prove himself really worthy of being Hawkeye. Once again theses actors also have excellent chemistry and play off each other very well which aids the dynamic very well. The major thing to talk about in this film is the new actors. Mainly James Spader as Ultron, I thought this guy was perfect to play Ultron and I was absolutely right, he is absolutely brilliant in this role. He manages to deliver the in-human almost Hal 9000 like quality to his performance but he also manages to keep up Ultron’s superiority complex brilliantly, especially considering he seems to have inherited Tony Stark’s personality on a lot of levels which is a slight differentiation to the comic, considering in that continuity he was created by Hank Pymm, but that character hasn’t been established in this Universe yet. Incidentally that was my other complaint about the plot, I wish Hank Pymm had been established for this film. He is a really good character and Ultron played a big part in his development! Well we’re just going to have to wait for Ant Man to come out. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is brilliant as Quicksilver. Yes Kick Ass is playing Quicksilver!! I think he is becoming one of my favourite actors. Between playing John Lennon in Nowhere Boy as well as his roles in Kick Ass and Godzilla he is really showing himself as a versatile actor and I am really looking forward to any role he is planning in the future, especially considering he does an excellent eastern european accent for this film, much like his Kick Ass voice, sounds almost natural even though his actual accent is so different. Elisabeth Olsen is a perfect choice to play the Scarlet Witch and she really shows off her acting talent in this film. Her and Aaron also have excellent chemistry once again, having previously played husband and wife in Godzilla, though try not to think about that too much whilst you are watching this film, considering that they are twins in this! Paul Bettany has made an excellent Jarvis for the last few Marvel films and he makes a brilliant vision, he embodies the character almost perfectly and I look forward to him expanding on this role in future Marvel Movies. Even the cameos are brilliant. Stellen Skarsgard as usual is brilliant in his role, Idris Elba is finally given something interesting to do in one of these films and let’s face it, he is going to be brilliant in almost anything he is in! He is Idris Elba!! Even Don Cheadle is allowed to flex his muscles at last as War Machine. In fact I can’t even think of a weak member of the cast, everyone is brilliant and there are too many of them to highlight everyone, trust me though there is not a bad performance in this film. Though the throwaway lines during the party at Avengers Tower do make you wish that Natalie Portman and Gwyneth Paltrow had reprised their roles, though Portman should be back for her role in Thor Ragnarok.
This now leads us on to the aesthetics of the film. The first film had amazing cinematography and that’s no different here! Joss Whedon knows how to direct these action sequences and he does them brilliantly. All these fight scenes are excellent, there may be a few too many and as a result there is not enough down time which the first film did a good job of balancing but this isn’t like Battleship where you don’t care about any of the characters, so as a result the action means nothing. You do care in this film so these action sequences will keep you invested and there’s a lot that also have a lot of characters in them and yet it all flows perfectly. I don’t care that half of this is CGI, it’s still directed well and it’s well integrated into the environment. My favourite sequence is probably the first scene during the raid on the Eastern European Castle, because it reminded me so much of the scenes from the battle for New York in the first film. The cuts are done brilliantly and some of the shots even look like they are done in one take. Also extra prizes for the fight between Iron Man and Hulk in South Africa.
I saw the film in 3D. I will say the 3D in this film is not as good as the 3D in the first film, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure this film was actually shot in 3D and was not a post conversion, however, when it succeeds the 3D excellent. If your local cinema is offering that format or if you are buying this on Blu Ray after it comes out and you happen to be lucky enough to have a 3D television you might want to pay that little bit extra to see it in that format, when it shines the 3D is really good, although there are large portions of the film where you forget it’s a 3D production. The highlight really would be a lot of the Scarlett Witch’s powers which really suit the 3D format almost perfectly. The 3D works in the fight scenes very well because the camera is not too close to any of the characters so you can actually tell what is going on and as a result objects appear perfectly well in the background and the characters appear in the foreground.
Do I even need to say anything more. Avengers Age of Ultron is excellent. Would you expect anything less from Marvel Studios and Joss Whedon? They are perfectly matched together and this film is no different. I am slightly concerned that this one may pale into comparison in the long run especially after Infinity War comes out and I’m not even certain I would say that it is better than the first film, but it is a very good film and it was well worth the wait!!! It’s not a perfect film by any means but it’s a good enough film that you really will ignore most of the flaws though I suspect some long time fans might be slightly disappointed by this film. The characters are great, the acting is great, the action sequences are once again excellent and it sets up Phase 3 pretty well especially in the post credit scene which I would recommend you stick around to see. The film does kind of bank on the fact that you have seen most of the Marvel Movies prior to seeing this, but I would say that’s not entirely essential, although I would recommend at a minimum you have seen the previous Avengers Assemble and if you have time, see Captain America the Winter Soldier.
I really liked it, I wouldn’t say for certain that it outdoes the first film, but I wasn’t expecting it to outdo it and I’m not sure it needs to do that. It just needed to be really good and be an excellent conclusion to Phase 2 of Marvel, even though, technically the conclusion of Phase 2 is going to be Ant Man, but spiritually this is the end of Phase2. Bring on Phase 3 I say, I’m ready to go.
So what are your thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron, did it capture the Marvel Universe brilliantly as you hoped or were you disappointed by it. Please leave your comments in the comments section and if you want you can leave your answers to my question for this week.
“Which of Marvels Phase 3 Movies are you most looking forward to?”
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I think it’s time I took a break from comic films, mind you there aren’t that many more coming out this year, but that beside the point. Since this week I was reviewing a film I was really looking forward to, next week I will review a film I am actually dreading, but there is really nothing else coming out this weekend that this review is being published except an animated Noahs Ark. Next time I’m checking out Skype based horror “Unfriended” and it will be on the site May 8th
Thank you for reading this review, I hoped you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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