Avengers: Age of Ultron,2015.
Directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Paul Bettany, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, James Spader, Thomas Kretschmann, Cobie Smulders, Claudia Kim, Andy Serkis, Don Cheadle, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Hayley Atwell and Linda Cardellini.
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.
Opening with an action packed sequence in and showcasing every Avenger in all their glory, Age of Ultron starts at a relentless pace that doesn’t let up throughout. Taking place in the after math of Marvel’s Phase 2 films, Ultron is Joss Whedon’s farewell to the Marvel universe, and what a farewell it is. Packed with characters we love, a few new ones, a phenomenal villain and more action then you can imagine; it’s a fitting send off for Whedon who delivered one of the best superhero films of all time.
Plot wise, Ultron is quite simple. After recovering Loki’s staff (as seen in the first film), Tony Stark arrogantly thinks he can create a peacekeeping program to save mankind. As with any film featuring AI, it doesn’t go to plan and the evil Ultron is born. Voiced by James Spader, Ultron has a fantastic physical presence. Beginning as a robot shell and evolving into a towering robot giant, he’s a formidable enemy and one that seems unstoppable. Although entirely CGI, you feel Spader’s presence through his gravelled vocals and joyful glee as he sets about destroying each Avenger.
After Iron Man, Thor and Captain America leading their own films, Whedon here decides to focus his character building on Hawkeye (Renner), Black Widow (Johansson) and The Hulk (Ruffalo). It’s refreshing to see these characters given more screen time and for their relationships to develop. The romance between Black Widow and The Hulk is handled with a sweet naivety that a lesser film maker might have fumbled. The main surprise is how much enjoyment Hawkeye brings to the screen. After being essentially side-lined and quite dull for the first film, we find out a lot about him in this film and you find that it’s his safety you worry for during the film’s many epic battle scenes. Whilst Iron Man, Thor and Captain America still deliver their one liners and hold their own in the action stakes, it’s refreshing to see the other smaller characters be given room to breathe. Having said this, it does mean that there are some key moments that are glossed over and not followed up with – a particular sequence involving Thor provides an interesting story thread which is unfortunately never followed up on.
The newbies this time around are Scarlet Witch (Olsen) and Quicksilver (Taylor-Johnson). Olsen as Scarlet Witch is phenomenal and her character evolution throughout the film is handled extremely well. She also has one of the coolest superpowers seen for a while which is her ability to manipulate minds. This makes for a stunning sequence mid-film where Black Widow, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk are all cast under her spell. We see snippets of their past and what might have been. Black Widow’s is the most interesting and only goes to reaffirm how much we all want a solo Black Widow film. Quicksilver this time around is completely different to the humorous side kick we saw in X-Men Days of Future Past. His super speed skills make for some great action and also some good bits of humour. True both Taylor-Johnson and Olsen never truly nail the Eastern European accent, but when the action is this good does it really matter?
The last addition is Paul Bettany as The Vision. While I won’t say much about the character himself, it’s fantastic to see a veteran of so many Marvel films become flesh. Although initially hearing Jarvis speak from a physical body is a bit odd, he’s an interesting character and one I look forward to watching develop.
Ultron is a truly great action film and well worth watching. There are however a few issues that stop it from being as good as its predecessor. The opening sequences whilst being action packed has some truly lazy and awful CGI and there are several storylines introduced that are never followed up. Ultron is a charismatic and entertaining villain, yet there isn’t much exploration into him and I kept thinking about how I wanted to see more of him. Also at 141 minutes it does start to drag a bit towards the end. Its redemption is in the witty writing and strong performances from a group of actors that seem to genuinely enjoy playing these characters and having fun with it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Helen Murdoch is a freelance writer – Follow me on Twitter