Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron
The next blockbuster from Marvel Studios has been released and it is a culmination of all the hard work laid out in the last ‘phase’ of movies and TV. Sporting Joss Whedon in the director’s chair and an all star cast of now familiar faces Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury). This is a large cast to jostle and manage for screen time without the addition of a few new faces whom we have only glimpsed before in Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver) and Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) who join the team this turn around. A much loved voice finally gets some actual screen time in Paul Bettany (JARVIS/Vision).
The villain of the piece, which the title suggests, is Ultron who is voiced and motion captured by James Spader. Ultron is a peacekeeping program developed by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner with the hope it will one day make the Avengers obsolete. This goes wrong when Ultron decides the main threat to the human race is humans themselves.
The film, which has now grossed over $1 billion worldwide, starts with a bang and doesn’t slow up for the rest for the film. Clocking in at 2 hours and 21 minutes it is a non stop rollercoaster with the perfect mix of action, funny dialogue and fleshed out characters this is definitely not a film to be missed.
Age of Ultron explains why the various character are back together again. Thor has joined the Earth bound Avengers in looking for Loki’s Sceptre that he used in the first Avengers film. It is these small instances which really do make Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios one of the best Director/Studio partnerships around today. It is a shame that Joss Whedon has confirmed that he will not be directing the next instalment of the Avengers called Avenger: Infinity War Part 1 & 2 due out in 2018 and 2019 respectively. During the opening battle sequence in the fictitious Eastern European country of Sokovia the team meet Quicksilver & Scarlett witch who are working for HYDRA.
The addition to the team of JARVIS in human form as the Vision was spectacular. JARVIS is the name of the computer program that runs everything Tony Stark does. Paul Bettany who voices JARVIS is brilliant in the role of Vision and adds a lot to the finished product. It is often the case that a sequel has to be bigger and better than the original with a nearly impossible to beat enemy. Age of Ultron is both these things but match them with better story telling and a lot of character depth.
The film includes various references to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and includes cameos from Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Stellan Skarsgard (Erik Selvig), Don Cheadle (War Machine) and Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill). Stan Lee also continues his stretch of cameos in every film of the MCU.
Whereas the first Avengers film was largely set in one place Age of Ultron transports the viewer around the world. Some of the countries may be fictitious but the change of scenery really helps keep the film fresh and moving forward. From New York and London to South Africa and Wakanda (an African nation which is the home of Black Panther due out in 2018) this film covers much of the world.
The action scenes which include the first fight in Sokovia, Hulk vs Hulkbuster and the final showdown do not disappoint. Fans were laughing and cheering in the cinema when Iron Man brings in the Hulkbuster armour to fight the Hulk. This was my favourite scene in the entire film as the character of Iron Man has the sarcastic humour and the comical timing to really bring the tone of the film back to a family orientated centre.
If I had to pick holes in Age of Ultron I would have to say the final fight sequence does go on a little bit too long for my liking. Given that there has been 2 hours of non stop action I felt exhausted by the time the final fight scene came around and struggled to concentrate on everything that was happening.
I think the balance of the huge cast was perfect and Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios listened to the fan base after the first Avengers and included a lot more Hawkeye and Black Widow. This is not an origin story of any kind as we have had all the previous films to set this up. This film is an edge of the seat thrill ride and that is exactly what it should have been.
There is enough left open at the end of the film to help tie in the non Earth based films like Guardians of the Galaxy to what is happening on Earth. There is a mid credits scene which helps move the franchise on as well. Alas there is no post credits scene so don’t sit through the credits in hope. You will be disappointed.