Apr 28, 2015

Avengers Age of Ultron Review

I was lucky enough to receive screening tickets for Age of Ultron through Denver Comic-Con! And while it didn't exactly sing on all the high notes one would expect, the movie was still damn entertaining. As always, spoilers follow.

The movie begins right in the middle of an action sequence, with the six Avengers from the first film hunting down Hydra, an evil organization that are in possession of Loki's Scepter. Once the Avengers obtain the scepter, Tony Stark decides to create an AI program dubbed Ultron using the powers of the scepter and it all pretty much goes down hill from there.

Ultron is a fine villain, but definitely not the power house villain Marvel is scrambling to find for it's films. Kingpin is another beast all together, but that is neither here nor there. Back to Ultron! David Spader played it pretty straight, and the performance was really just par for the course. The writing felt directly lifted from the source material, which is great, but there was no extra sauce thrown in from Spader to really elevate the performance.

The three standouts are from two of the three new Avengers, Scarlet Witch and Vision, and from the original movie Hawkeye. Elizabeth Olsen mastered the art of cocking her head to the left or right while looking like her psyche was just a bit off centered, and in the climax of the movie really unleashes her powers. Her transition from where she was at the start of the movie to the end is really felt, and it is reflected in her performance. You can really see the growth, which is quite a feet for a freshly introduced character with only one films worth of characterization.

Vision dominates the second half of the film with every scene he is in, nailing the tone of a new born child with the near infinite wisdom of the internet. It really rang true of Vision and his ethical cautious approach to any situation, and Paul Bettany gives a very slow ramp up and nuanced performance that just sings. His visual design is incredibly striking and stands out from everyone else, making him a very clear point of focus admits all of the chaos that unfolds in act 3. The way the digital battles between Ultron and Vision were portrayed was very cool too, and didn't require any exposition fairies to explain what was going on. You just see what is happening and just get it immediately.

Hawkeye really shines, which isn't too hard given that he probably has the most screen time out of anyone. But in the same vein of Black Widow given a lot of depth and action in The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron really fleshes out Hawkeye. He is also instrumental in pushing Scarlet Witch into a full fledged hero, instead of someone who is just trying to keep up, so he has that going for him. He has the best moments, gives the best one-liners, and has the most complete arc out of everyone. If there is anyone that is the heart and soul of this movie, it is Clint Barton.

What really stands out for me in this film is all the great character moments, like Captain America and Thor being bros because they both understand battle, Black Widow and Bruce Banner bonding over who is the real monster, and so much more. The first act is kind of a mess, with incredibly inconsistent pacing and not much going on, but the second act sings with character development and the third act is all pay off.

My fiancee and I were discussing it as we were leaving the screening though. The movie moves so fast you don't really have time to let these moments breath. There are no really big cinematic moments that were present in the first film, such as the Helicarrier reveal, or the "I'm always angry" punch. This movie is marinated in the term 'business as usual', and that is just fine. It is still funny, the action is still great, and it checks off all the boxes. But it doesn't deliver much else.