Sometimes, I feel like I’m living in the future.
It seems like only yesterday when Nick Fury dropped by Tony Stark’s house to have a chat about the Avenger Initiative.
If you had told me way back in 2008 when that first Iron Man movie came out that I would one day find myself sitting in a theater waiting for the Avengers sequel to start, I would have told you that you be crazy.
And yet, here we are. Avengers: Age of Ultron is upon us, and it’s every bit as gigantic as you might expect.
The movie assumes a lot of familiarity with the previous movies, so if you haven’t seen those you might be a little lost. But I think it’s a pretty safe bet that if you’re interested in Avengers: Age of Ultron, then you probably had some interest in the previous movies, so I don’t think Age of Ultron’s lack of plot setup hurts the movie in the long run.
Age of Ultron starts off with a bang, joining the Avengers mid-battle, as they take down one of the last remaining Hydra fortresses. It’s a great way to start the movie, and it’s important because it shows our heroes working as a team. They know what they’re doing, and they know each other. They are a well-oiled machine.
Those dudes on the right are so boned I almost feel sorry for them. Almost.
Within the Hydra fortress, Tony Stark makes a discovery which allows him to re-activate a dormant peacekeeping project, called Ultron. Things promptly go awry, and Ultron decides that the only way for there to be peace on Earth is for there to be no humans on Earth, so he begins to set in motion events which will lead to the extinction of mankind.
Or…something. To be honest, the movie’s storytelling is a bit muddled. I understood the broad strokes of the plot, but there were a few aspects of the plot that were kind of puzzling to me. There was one subplot in particular involving Thor in which I had absolutely no idea what was going on, or what the point was. A week later, I still don’t.
As with many blockbuster sequels, Age of Ultron is more than a little overstuffed. It’s a lumbering behemoth of a movie, one that sometimes groans under the weight of its many parts. There’s a lot going on in the movie, and not all of it works. Some subplots seem shoehorned in, and some characters get short shrift. There’s also a romantic subplot between Bruce Banner and Black Widow that felt a bit out of place to me, although I did like that we get to see more of Hawkeye and Black Widow’s back stories.
But as clunky as it is, Age of Ultron is still quite a bit of fun. The special effects are fantastic (as they should be, considering the movie’s $250 million price tag), and the many action sequences are consistently thrilling to watch. My particular favorite was probably the skyscraper-leveling brawl between the Hulk and Iron Man, with Iron Man equipped with his meaty, badass Hulkbuster armor.
The film also benefits from an excellent villain in the form of James Spader’s Ultron. His motivation isn’t all that original (humans are a disease and must be exterminated in order for the world to survive, blah blah blah, it’s pretty much the exact same reasoning as the villain Samuel L. Jackson played in Kingsman: The Secret Service a few months ago), but Spader’s vocal performance is fantastic, and Ultron looks great.
He has some humanlike characteristics, such as a wry, somewhat sarcastic sense of humor, that keep him from being just another boring deathbot. His facial expressions are also quite impressive, I mean, he’s a robot with facial expressions! Touches like this ensure that Ultron never becomes boring or clichéd, and he remains scary and formidable throughout the movie. When you have six famous superheroes as your main characters, you need a villain worthy of all of them, and Ultron more than fits that description.
The movie’s greatest pleasures are its characters, all of whom are played by talented actors who have been playing these roles for quite a few years and quite a few movies, and all of them fit into their roles like a glove (like…gloves? I’m not entirely sure how that metaphor should go, but you get the idea). Robert Downey Jr. once again proves that he was born to play Tony Stark. He’s just awesome.
So yeah, the movie’s far from perfect. It didn’t captivate me quite as much as its 2012 predecessor did. Partly I think that some of the novelty may have worn off a bit, for me at least. Let’s face it, as much as I like these movies, there have been an awful lot of them over the last couple of years. Still, I’m looking forward to Captain America: Civil War (due out next year) and the next Marvel Cinematic Universe movie is Ant-Man, sooooo…still not sure what to think about that one. I’ll still see it, but more out of curiosity than anything else.
Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t quite as streamlined as its predecessor, but it’s still a well-made, well-acted piece of summer blockbuster entertainment that is sometimes confusing but always fun, even if it isn’t as fresh as it was the first time the Avengers assembled.
And boy do I love these retro-looking posters.