Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Film Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

So here we go again. Another superhero movie. Another Avengers movie. Another box office boffo opening weekend, and another franchise builder. All-in-all, it's just another typical weekend in Hollywood USA. The thing here though, as opposed to many of the more generic blockbuster franchise fodder that gets thrust upon audiences these days, is that this is a fun movie. Just like the first Avengers movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a fun fun movie, full of tons of great geeky stuff to keep us comic book nerds happy happy happy. Is it the second coming of Citizen Kane? Of course not, but then it was never meant to be. Is Joss Whedon the fan boy equivalent of Orson Welles or Stanley Kubrick? Of course not. That's J.J. Abrams. I kid (sorta), but seriously, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a blast of a movie, a fun time for any action movie aficionado, and an added second blast for all the comic book fans who "get" all the quick asides and in-jokes and Easter eggs galore.

For those not in the know, and if you are not in the know, you probably don't care about this film, and therefore are not reading this review, but for those who may squeak in there without great knowledge of what The Avengers movies are all about, here's a little background for you. The Avengers are a superhero group ensconced within the Marvel Universe. Created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, The Avengers have had many members lo these fifty plus years. In the cinematic version, the team consists of Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, with a little help from the CGI team). In the first movie, we saw the team come together (just like how the original comic brought together characters from other comics, the film version brings together characters from various precursor solo films), and do some major ass-kicking against Loki and his brood of alien invaders. Here, in the second film, we see the team more organized, and now taking on the robotic Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a character actually created by Tony Stark (Iron Man, for the initiated) and Bruce Banner (The Hulk's alter ego). Originally, Ultron was supposed to be a tool for peace, but you know how things go. Now he is set on human destruction, along with his unaware minions, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). That's basically the story here, folks. To say anything else would give away important plot points and twists and turns and such.

As a comic book nerd from waaay back (after discovering the X-Men at nine, The Avengers were the next big thing in my young comic book reading world) there are a lot of fun, interesting bon mots throughout the film, that those only familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (as opposed to the comic book world) may not get. The banter between the characters, the quippy inside jokes, the hidden gems. A wonderfully giddy (at least I was giddy) off-duty scene involving all the heroes trying to lift Thor's hammer. And no, that is not a euphemism. The freakin' Hulkbuster armor! It's all here in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Everything happening in this film, just like in all other MCU films, is laying the groundwork for the next phase of Marvel films. It is truly an al-encompassing cinematic universe that is trying to be created here. Granted, Joss Whedon has announced he will not be back for the third and fourth Avengers films (Avengers: Infinity War, parts I and II), and after you watch the film, you will see that many of the stars and characters will not be back either, but with the seemingly seamless array of changing characters (upcoming will be Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and even Spider-Man in a Sony/Disney crossover event) is what makes these films work as well as they do. And we haven't even discussed the TV version of the MCU (Daredevil, Luke Cage, and others) yet.

But hey, this is a review of Avengers: Age of Ultron (not that a movie like this can really be properly reviewed and/or critiqued), so let me just finish by saying that it may not be quite as good as the first film (though certain individual parts are better, but not an overall greater film) but damn it is a fun movie. Yes, the film does suffer from a bout of oft-criticized sexism, which runs through most Hollywood movies, and not just here (bigger picture problems there), and some sub plots never really go anywhere of interest, instead just act as wonton character development that also never goes anywhere of interest (more Hawkeye, more Black Widow!), If I were to rank the the MCU movies, this one would not rate in the same company as the first Avengers, nor either Captain America film, the first Iron Man, nor Guardians of the Galaxy, the latter of which may just be the best of 'em all so far. Still though, especially for this comic book nerd from waaay back, it's an enjoyable romp.That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.


  1. This does seem like it will be a fun film. I just hope they don't make a TV show out of it and 15 more sequels. I may only want to see them when they are trying to fight crime while having macular degeneration, arthritis and demntia

    1. That's the great thing with Avengers lore. There have been 109 different Avengers in the comics, so they have a lot of new blood to keep picking from.

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