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"Avengers: Age of Ultron" Review

Kalem Lalonde's picture

Marvel Studios set the bar so high for comic book movies when they released “The Avengers” back in 2012. The film successfully brought together 4 franchises and 6 superheroes. Watching that movie felt completely magical. Then as phase 2 went on, Marvel topped themselves with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and then brought their universe to another level of quality with “Daredevil”.

I got a little worried that they would break their crazy momentum with “Avengers: Age of Ultron” because of the reception. No one seemed to love it the way we’ve loved Marvel’s last 3 gems. And while Age of Ultron will be much more debated than its predecessor, it completely lived up to my expectations and delivers a funny and fun movie that knows how to balance the light and the dark.

I was slightly concerned, going into Age of Ultron, that Joss Whedon put too much on his plate with all the new characters. The additions of the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and Vision along with Klaw, Baron Strucker and Ultron seemed like a bit too much. However, one of the things that Whedon did best in this movie was balancing multiple plot threats and making it all very cohesive. There is a lot going on in Age of Ultron but it makes all of its events feel like natural extension of the story. Everything added up and instead of feeling overloaded with content, the movie ends up just being extremely ambitious and epic.

The Avengers heavily relied on witty banter and great character portrayals to move a simple plot forward. Age of Ultron relies on its characters in a similar but the plot was improved on in this sequel. The story is extremely character driven without feeling forced in any way. Joss Whedon perfectly understands these characters and gives us some of the best characterizations in any MCU movie.

This is mostly thanks to his deeper exploration of them. Almost every single character gets great emotional substance and exploration in the span of a 2-hour movie. Which is even more impressive given that we’ve already gotten to know them very well in previous movies.

He takes Black Widow and makes her character infinitely more interesting than she’s ever been. Through a brief exploration of her past, Whedon makes us pity this aloof and closed spy, creating a fantastic new level of depth to the character. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about her romance with Bruce Banner and while it did come out of nowhere at first, Whedon made it work.

The relationship was meaningful to both characters and with a couple of scenes, Whedon is able to make us understand why these particular two Avengers click. The relationship wasn’t overdone or gratuitous, it was a natural extension of two characters who both believe themselves to be monsters.

And Whedon even acknowledges his failure to successfully bring Hawkeye’s appeal to the screen in the previous Avengers film. The movie jokes about it and goes on to give the character his well-deserved time in the spotlight. Hawkeye has some of the movies best lines and moments as Whedon attempts to humanize him. Clint Barton is more than just an agent with a bow in Joss Whedon’s eyes and this film benefitted from that, greatly.

As for the Maximoff twins, I definitely enjoyed how this movie used them. They are integral to the plot and have enough depth to be more than just plot devices. Quicksilver was funny and caring as a twin but he was definitely the weaker of the two twins. Scarlet Witch was just awesome in this entire movie. Her look, her voice, her powers. Everything about her was just well done and I’m looking forward for Elizabeth Olson’s character to take on a larger role in the MCU.

Now, let’s discuss the villain himself, Ultron. Ultron was marketed as an extremely intimidating and solemn villain. Which is really not how Joss Whedon portrays the characters. Ultron is snarky and sarcastic, reflecting the nature of his creator, Tony Stark. Ultron felt like an evil, childish, robot version of Tony and Whedon makes it work. Ultron is a magnetic presence that lights up the screen every time he appears. James Spader nails his voice and injects the perfect amount of humanity into this confused and ultimately afraid villain.

However, there are definitely a few downsides to his character. First off, Ultron never comes off as a very big threat to the Avengers. His plan is bold and large enough to raise the stakes enough for an Avenger movie but the character himself failed to feel very powerful. This is mainly because Ultron never wins a single fight. The Ultron I know can easily take out the entire Avengers team and Joss Whedon failed to tap into that aspect of the character that made me love him in the first place.

On top of that, the character didn’t have any form of emotional build up. Unfortunately, he just becomes evil as he is born and we aren’t able to form any bond with the character before he tries to destroy the human race. Marvel’s best villains are the ones who get emotional buildup like Loki and the Winter Soldier and I feel like they missed their mark here with that aspect of Ultron. He should’ve been written into Iron Man 3, giving us the time to start liking him before he becomes malevolent.

Which leads me to one of the other negative aspects of this movie, the rushed pacing. Joss Whedon has stated that the original cut of this movie was 3 hours long and at times, you can really feel it. Some of emotional arcs just come out of nowhere and you can’t help but think that there should have been a little bit more set-up. The pacing can feel a little rushed near the beginning of this movie but once we hit the mid-mark everything flowed extremely smoothly.

Age of Ultron may not be the Empire Strike Back of the Avengers franchise but it is absolutely a worthy sequel to one of the best comic book adaptations of all time. The film is fast-paced, heartfelt and most importantly enormously entertaining. Joss Whedon injects his signature wit into the script even more effectively than the first film and once again displays his great talent for writing team dynamics. Marvel Studios have yet to falter as Age of Ultron is one of their best films yet.

Score: 9.1/10