“I know you’re good people. I know you mean well. But you just didn’t think it through. There is only one path to peace…your extinction.”
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to the Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for a global adventure.
Okay, so three years and four additional Marvel Universe movies have passed since the first Avengers movie blew this fanboy back into his seat in the theater and made him believe that a big-scale ensemble sci-fi action movie based on a comic book that I was familiar with but never really read could not only be made into an entertaining and engaging action flick, but could do so competently and succeed in not making it suck harder than a rouge black hole. To say the anticipation leading up to the opening of the long-planned sequel in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series of movies was as epic as the movie itself would be no hyperbole. The stakes seemed bigger–they were bringing in one of their biggest enemies in Ultron, who was being voiced by James Spader, and the trailers promised a showdown between Iron Man and the Hulk that was making fanboys and fangirls everywhere squee with delight. So when I finally plopped down in my theater seat for a Saturday afternoon matinée with the rest of the Exalted Geeks, my expectations were pretty high. That was unavoidable, really. Did The Avengers: Age Of Ultron manage to give me that same fanboy joygasm like last time? Well…yes and no. More yes than no. I’ll explain in a bit.
Also, I’m going to try my darnedest to not feature spoilers in this review, but no promises. Here we go…
The story of Age Of Ultron starts off with the Avengers infiltrating what is said to be the final Hydra stronghold, where they recover Loki’s staff. Tony decides to take a look at it because SCIENCE!, and while doing so inadvertently creates Ultron, who skips over Childlike Wonderment and goes directly to Existential Quandry mode, and decides to wipe out all of humanity and repopulate the Earth with a bunch of Ultron robots. Or something like that. Meanwhile, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch show up sporting a massive hate-on for Tony Stark (who doesn’t, really?), and join up with Ultron to strike back at Tony and the gang. The Avengers get their collective butts handed to them, Ultron takes the remaining supply of Vibranium and heads out to the same fortress where they were holding Loki’s staff, then heads out to Korea to have a new suit tailor made for him by SCIENCE! The Avengers show up and interrupt before Ultron could finish, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch decide to side up with the Avengers when they realize finally that they were working with an INSANE ROBOT, JARVIS gets a new look, an entire city is taken on a joyride, things go boom, and the whole thing ends with some of the members going off to brood while Captain America and Black Widow are left to train a bunch of newbies for the sequel. The end.
Overall, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron was just as massively epic and entertaining as the first Avengers movie. Once again, the script was crafted nicely, with some great action sequences, fantastically witty dialogue (it’s Joss Whedon, what would you expect?), and some surprising character developments to a couple of supporting team members. Mind you, one such development between a couple of characters seemed to just come out of nowhere, and I still don’t think I can buy it completely. I’ll leave everyone to guess which one I’m talking about. The other one…well, it’s about bloody time that guy got some meaty development. And while the action scenes were great, the best parts of this movie, in my not-so-humble-opinion, were the ones where the team was just interacting with each other outside of the action. All of these larger-than-life characters, just sitting and chilling, chatting with each other. I could have watched an entire movie of just that, and I would have enjoyed it.
As a villain, Ultron could have been much more menacing than what he was. Mind you, when he first made his physical appearance, he was in the shadows and was genuinely creepy as all get-out. Then…*sigh* I think it was the decision to CGI animate his face that took a lot of the scary out of him. Like with Optimus Prime in the live action Transformers movies, seeing Ultron with a mouth that moved in a rather Uncanny Valley sort of way made me have to look past that to enjoy the movie. Ultron’s killbot army were designed much more effectively, and why they didn’t go with that for the face is a mystery to me. And speaking of CGI issues, the first ten or fifteen minutes or so of the movie, the big opening action sequence is kind of…I wouldn’t say sub-par, but it’s rather obvious with the animated heroes and such. But, it won’t kill the entire experience, trust me.
In the end, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron was a very good way to kick off the 2015 Summer Movie Season. It had its problems, yes, but so did the first Avengers movie, one could argue some of the same ones. But, I went in expecting a big, over-the-top action movie with a smart script, and emerged from the theater satisfied with the results. I highly recommend catching this on the big screen when you can.