“I see a suit of armor around the world.”
Written/Directed by: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and James Spader
Swift shot: A solid bridge for the Avengers film we are all waiting for, Avengers: Age of Ultron is tons of fun to watch, but it is just not as good as The Avengers. All the characters are present and doing their thing, and there are some incredible fight sequences, but Ultron is under-used. When you have a slick character like James Spader on the payroll, you need to give him (or rather his voice) as much screen-time as possible. We know Ultron is deranged, but his message of world domination came off a bit convoluted . . . even for a robot. But, Age of Ultron doesn’t disappoint where it counts.
From the jump, The Avengers are back in action, this time their enemy isn’t Loki and the alien invaders, but the remnants from that encounter are still the principle focus of their mission. They are looking for Loki’s scepter, and during the retrieval, they discover some new super human folks are backing Hydra’s play. Since they can’t be referred to as mutants (thanks, lawyers of the world) Quicksilver (Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Olsen) are the product of Hydra doctors who somehow made them “enhanced.” The twins are not too keen on Tony Stark (RDJ), as it turns out he tried to kill them, sort of.
The Avengers do manage to get the scepter, but Tony is given a clear vision of the scope of the horrors that await the Avengers if he can’t figure out a way to step up their game. As the scepter chase taught the team, there are other super humans, and not all of them are on the side of righteousness. With this fear of failure, Tony manages to extract something from the scepter that has a sentient quality. Desperate in his fear,Tony, and reluctantly Bruce Banner (Ruffalo) decide to merge this intelligent sentient force with their “Ultron” protocol. And, Ultron is born. His birth scene was incredibly well handled by Director Joss Whedon, as Ultron becomes self-aware, he quickly determines the ultimate solution to the world’s problems . . . you guessed it, of course, it’s eliminating us frail, un-evolving (unworthy) human beings.
When Ultron meets The Avengers, they are all “smoking and joking” as my departed Drill Instructor would say. They are enjoying a party where War Machine (Don Cheadle) is painfully trying to get attention. Ultron immediately lets it be known his intentions for The Avengers, in order for him to give the world peace, the Avengers must be “extinct.” Being partial to living, Tony and the team have a rough conversation with Ultron which leads him to flee – but only to regroup. He can do that, you see, for he is many.
Following their encounter with the twins, where Scarlet Witch gave them all nightmares to deal with, we see as each Avenger copes with the reality of their fears. This part dragged for me, and often made no sense, but it did allow for a brief cameo from Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter. So, there’s that, I guess. Each of the varied fears creates a ripple in the Avengers’ psyche that forces them to regroup themselves.
It isn’t long before Ultron convinces the twins to work with him, since they have the same goal. And Ultron delights in using their special skills to his advantage, as he seeks vibranium to carry out his master plan. Ultron is essentially the dark ego of Tony Stark, writ large, where the ends always justify the means, and his wry wit is on display, but to far more sinister designs. In one melodramatic scene, reminiscent of the cliched “fighting oneself” theme, Tony does battle directly with Ultron, and it’s clear he is his creation, his sin, if you will. That won’t be his only creation in the film. I won’t give that part away; however, because I don’t want to spoil anything for those who don’t know.
Some old friendly faces make appearances, and some secrets are revealed about our favorite archer, which seemed a tad tacky. Watching the Avengers “find themselves” at a remote farmhouse, meh. And a weird relationship starts to form between two of the Avengers that was a tad disturbing, if you think of the . . . logistics. I did like that Ultron played on the Avengers’ lack of cohesion as a weakness, whereas he is always a unified quantity. Ultron is Ultron, every bot he embodies is him, unlike The Avengers who are always squabbling and ever so . . . human. Still, they will manage to work “together” before the film is over.
Lost in Age Of Ultron was a clear message. There were a lot of muddled messages: work together; don’t play God; redemption is possible for all, and sometimes you have to take risks to save those you love. Oh, and Hulk unrestrained is really bad for property values! Hulk Insurance, anyone?
Cinematic wise, Age of Ultron delivers great one-liners, great action, and greater special effects. All the pieces for a great film are there, but Director Whedon failed to mash them all together into one clearly epic masterpiece. A bit too much of Whedon (perhaps missing his Penn) came across in this one. He gets a little more touchy-feely than I like to see in my action flicks.
Again, great heroes need great villains, and under using Ultron in favor of these campy mind game sequences and visions of self discovery – come on man, it’s called the AGE of Ultron. If I had to put my finger on why this one wasn’t as good as The Avengers, that would be it.
Age of Ultron was solid, but if you are honest with yourself, you’ll agree – it could have been much better. Too much romance; not enough Ultron.