Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Posted April 29, 2015 by in

Rating

Total Score
 
 
 
 
 

4.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: super-hero, action
 
Director: Joss Whedon
 
MPAA Rating: PG-13
 
Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
 
Length: 141 minutes
 
Release Date: 5-1-2015
 
Studio: Marvel Studios
 
 
What We Thought

Avengers: Age of Ultron is even better than the original, and the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since the original Iron Man.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
Avengers:  Age of Ultron is even better than the original, and the best Marvel Cinematic Universe movie since the original Iron Man.
     The film opens with the Avengers’ assault on one of Hydra’s basis, where Loki’s scepter is held, a dangerous weapon capable of mind control.  The superheroes easily overcome Hydra’s defenses, allowing Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to retrieve the scepter.
     Stark analyzes the scepter, and discovers that it exhibits brain wave activity; it’s thinking.  The only explanation is that it is somehow artificially intelligent.  Stark wants to decode the weapon, so that he can use the advanced A.I. in his Ultron Program:  a plan to create super-powered robots which could protect the Earth in place of The Avengers, so that they can retire and lead normal lives.
     It goes horribly wrong.  During one of his soirees, one of Stark’s robots bursts through the walls, and sets Stark’s own drones against him and his fellow Avengers, who are unprepared for the attack.  During the chaos, the robot, Ultron (voice of James Spader), makes off with the scepter.
     At the center of every solid superhero movie lies a memorable screen villain.  The Dark Knight has the Joker, and Age of Avengers has Ultron.  Like the antagonist of Christopher Nolan’s film, Ultron is frightening and funny at once, but what’s more, he’s a formidable opponent for the Avengers, none of whom can take him down by themselves. As with the original film, the super-heroes must overcome their differences and work together to defeat their robotic nemesis.  However, Ultron is aided by twins Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who moves at lightning speed, and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), who can manipulate matter as well as the human mind.
     It’s fair to say that Age of Ultron is more of the same.  The Scarlet Witch stands in for Loki, turning the Avengers against one another as the Asgardian trickster did, and Ultron’s legion of drones fill in for the alien army that invaded New York City in the original film.  Good guys and bad guys fight over a MacGuffin which will decide the victor, in a battle taking place over a city populated by ordinary civilians.  Just like in the original.
     At the same time, however, the sequel is also more and better.  The original had a draggy middle section, and a comparative dearth of action scenes overall.  Age of Ultron, however, boasts a half-dozen set pieces, each better than the last.  Iron Man and The Hulk have an exciting throw-down (which has a side-splitting sight gag that really makes the movie), and Captain America has some of his best action scenes yet thanks to impressive fight choreography, especially when he goes mano-y-mano with Ultron.
     Chris Hemsworth as Thor once again shows his comedic talent, demonstrating impeccable timing and delivery, and gets several of the film’s many laughs (when is this guy going to do a straight-up comedy?), as does Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, who gets more screen time this go around.  A true ensemble film, as it should be, Age of Ultron spreads its attention evenly across a dozen characters—good and bad—giving each their due (with the single exception of Quicksilver, who does more sprinting than talking).
     The action in Age of Ultron is tense, yet it’s tonally a very light film, aware of its own silliness, like Guardians of the Galaxy.  And it’s about time.  After a slate of dark, brooding films about tortured souls with super-powers, such as Man of Steel and The Wolverine, it’s a relief that comic book movies can be fun again.  It’s fine for The Dark Knight to be that way, but not every comic book movie needs to be The Dark Knight.
     Age of Ultron is so much fun that its flaws don’t bother me as much as they should.  The screenplay paints its super-heroes into a corner at the climax, and the only way out of an unsolvable dilemma is through deus ex machina.  At one point, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) explains that the Avengers are on their own, and the only thing they have to defeat Ultron is their will and their wits, making the resolution a betrayal of that idea.  It’s a cop-out.  However, with a touching romantic subplot and breathless pacing in the film’s favor, to say nothing of its excitement and sense of humor, it’s easy to overlook its shortcomings.
     A science-fiction film, Age of Ultron is, quite explicitly, about the duality of artificial intelligence, whether or not, as sentient beings, robots will save us or destroy us.  It’s a problem we face in the workplace today, with machines increasingly replacing the human worker.  Man and machine, or man vs. machine?  Only time will tell, but that future could be within our lifetime.

 


About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.

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