So much hype, so much fanfare, so many expectations, it was really hard to walk into Age Of Ultron with an open mind and not have extremely high expectations after the first film, which for me was the best comic book film adaption ever made. At the time when I saw Ultron, the first half of the movie blew me away, it had so many great character moments, mind blowing action scenes, a menacing and threatening villain who could be as much of a threat as an alien army. While this was enough to get me through the first hour and a half, the second hour took me on a downhill slope of bad writing and WAY too many meta comments (even for a Joss Whedon movie!)
The first half of the movie builds Ultron into being the ultimate, unbeatable enemy, he is all over the internet, he has devoured and stolen all of their case files, leaving them with well not a lot of information to help beat him. Jarvis has evolved into Vision and Ultron has split a portion of the earth, levitating it and threatening to slam it down to cause “cataclysmic amount of damage” (yes really, I wish I was joking!) I guess it also doesn’t help that Ultron is just hovering, waiting for the Avengers to defeat him, without really doing that much. It felt lazy and an afterthought, and while it looked visually impressive it was the weakest part of the story, and really should have been the strongest. The Avengers spent WAY too long trying to save the civilians trapped on the island, it felt really “We are NOT Man Of Steel” and a little overdone.
One of the biggest fanboy complaints about the first film was the portrayal of Hawkeye. He spent most of the film as a mind-controlled zombie, and we didn’t get to see much of his archery abilities, in this film he is presented as a “family man” with wife and kids off the radar, living in the middle of nowhere. Despite all of this with an added screen presence and his meta comments, I felt like it was too little too late and I’m sure he is a great character in the comics but not in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sorry Hawkeye, I really wanted to like you.
Another character Scarlet Witch played by Elizabeth Olsen felt underused and well to be frank, boring. Sure her power of making the Avengers team “see things” led to an amazing back story for Black Widow, the rest was an average performance with a so-so script. By the end of the film when she becomes an Avenger, it doesn’t really feel earned or deserved.
Not all blame can be put on the filmmakers, a large portion of it goes to the marketing department who have churned out spoiler after spoiler, with constant trailers, teasers and clips that revealed way too much for a sequel they actually want people to see. We all knew Hulkbuster was in it, but we didn’t need to see the majority of the fight before the film and the overdone hammer lifting party scene made it boring in the actual film. Can someone please do something about this? It is really annoying trying to dodge clips when people love sharing them on social media.
The long cry from feminists and female comic book lovers is “Why don’t we have a female super hero yet?” and while D.C Comics will be the first with Wonder Woman in 2017, I would argue that Black Widow is a super hero in her own right and after her back story is looked at slightly in this, I was definitely craving more of this. The Salt like spy training story is dark and interesting and broke up the monotony of the other flashbacks that are nowhere near as captivating. The first half of the film had so many outstanding character moments for Black Widow alongside Bruce Banner/Hulk are some of the most touching moments in any comic book film, it all heads downhill when for some reason Black Widow gets captured and needs to be rescued by a man. Did her capture add to the story? No, Did her capture achieve anything apart from giving her character something to do? No. It had me questioning, did Joss really write this? As a writer and director who prides himself on not playing into these stereotypes (and calling out people who do Jurassic World anyone?) This was a disappointment and a let down.
So while it sounds like I hated the film, truth be told I did not, I loved it, the first half was incredible, it was everything that fans and comic book/Marvel lovers cherish, but it didn’t feel like a universe building film, Thor and Captain America felt like guest stars, while the film itself was just a way to introduce the “new” Avengers so the old ones can move on when their contract is done. This would be fine, if this was the third film, but being the second, I don’t feel like we have spent enough time with this team to warrant handing the torch over. The action sequence in the opening scenes of the film is hands down the best comic book fight scene I have seen and the banter between the whole crew lives up to the fun reputation of Marvel films. Most critics have been surprised and critical of the Banner/Widow relationship, I actually enjoyed it and found to be some of the biggest highlights of the film.
The first half built up to an incredible peak that declined rapidly and fell a little flat, Avengers (the first film) was ALWAYS going to be a tough act to follow. How do you give all these characters equal screen time, and introduce new ones into the mix without feeling like a mess? To some degree this worked, Age Of Ultron showed the horrible potential of mixing alien technology and messing with the laws of life and testing the strength of the team. Age Of Ultron is a great film in its own right and is set to make Marvel/Disney a billion or two in box office sales. Was it really THAT bad? By a normal movie standard, No, but by Marvel standards yes. With a track record of Guardians Of The Galaxy, Iron Man 3 and Winter Soldier, this film fell just a tad short of the Marvel standard.
Mark has reviewed the film in a much more positive note here
Article by Alaisdair Dewar