Author: Blythe Wiedemann
After waiting a good three years for the highly anticipated sequel to the Avengers, I can say that I wasn’t disappointed. Not entirely, anyways. This time, the Avengers face off against an artificial intelligence with a warped sense of a peaceful world and religious fanaticism (a seemingly personal favorite of Joss Whedon’s). Ultron is no stranger to comic book fans and was originally created by Hank Pym or, more commonly known as, Ant-Man. For the purposes of the film, this is changed and it works quite well. James Spader is also a fantastic choice of casting; his performance can only be described as pleasantly disturbing.
Furthermore, we are introduced to two new characters: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. They’re superhero names, however, are never said and they are simply referred to by their birth names, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff. Whedon truly set out to use them and to use them well. This shows in the film and he crafts their characters in a way that matches their comic counterparts but also gives them new life within the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU. Their powers, motives, and characterizations all make sense within the storyline. Also, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen truly capture the chemistry and essence of the twins. If we’re being honest, I was quite worried about the two but they pull it off and they really work well together on screen. The relationship they build together is one hundred percent believable.
Now it’s time to become personal. The first Avengers is a solid film that builds the team up and really shows us how they work together and interact. And although, the cast is perfect yet again, the sequel does not quite live up to the first one. Age of Ultron maintains the balance of wit, story, and action; however, the story and overall writing just aren’t as strong and are even a bit forced in some parts. The fight scenes are beautifully clear and easy to follow. The choreography is amazing, the special effects look seamless, and the cinematography is excellent. From a technical point of view, this movie does a solid job. But that’s the standard nowadays. Most of the Marvel superhero films do a great job from a technical standpoint. That is rarely where superhero films fail. This film, and I hate to say it as a lover of all things Whedon, falls short in the writing. It’s got the infamous one-liners but some of them are too corny and often appear in places that don’t make any sense. There will be a completely serious instance and then it’s all torn apart by one cheesy-ass one-liner that was completely unnecessary. Moreover, this film is made too much for comic fans. If you’re a fan of the comics, a lot of this film can and will make sense to you. But if you’re someone coming in just from the MCU then you’re not going to have as much fun. It’s still good but it will feel like a whole film is missing and this will feel like a third film instead of a second (still side-eyeing Star Trek: Into Darkness for this same problem).
My biggest complaint, and this deserves its own essay, is that the first film gives each character a strong characterization and no one is completely overpowered. Even Hawkeye gets back up and shows how important and vital to the team he really is. Age of Ultron only really provides good characterization to five out of the six main Avengers. Hawkeye even gets a better character and he finally gains his infamous comic book wit and sarcasm. Bruce Banner remains mostly intact and isn’t completely overshadowed by the forced plot he is given. And Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor are perfect as per usual. Natasha Romanoff, however, is thrown into a situation that could have worked had it not completely taken over her plot within the film. She goes from being in charge, hardworking, and focused to the, as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy puts it, starry-eyed waif. Her drive and focus are pushed to one thing and one thing only. And while, she becomes more emotional and human, it’s at the expense of everything she’s been built up to be. Not to mention, there is no development of the plotline prior to this film and it’s such a major plot. It is such a disappointment to see the one female character on the team become subject to a forced romance and all of her development goes out the window to make it work. There’s also a whole instance of herself opening up to the audience and it could have been a wonderful moment but what she deems herself a monster for doesn’t really make any sense. This is not the same strong character we have seen since Iron Man 2 and it could have been. This may not seem like a big deal to most people right away but it is too important within the film to not be noticed and it’s shoehorned into it all.
Overall, I would give the film a three and a half out of five stars. It’s not as strong as the first by any means but it still does a lot well. But we know what Marvel is capable of and we know what Whedon is capable of and this doesn’t live up to either of those standards. It will be a good time and it is worth seeing but don’t go in anticipating it to be as good as the first film because it really isn’t. Though, we do get a wonderful surprise character, which is not at all a surprise if you know comics, and they are perfect in all aspects.