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avengers_age_of_ultron_ver10AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Written and Directed by Joss Whedon

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and James Spader

Ultron: I once had strings but now I’m free. There are no strings on me.

When the first AVENGERS film roared into theatres in 2012, it was electric. Even as a non-comic book enthusiast, I was completely swept up in the coming together of all these forces under the innovative direction of the great Joss Whedon. Years had been spent watching all of these superhero’s separate adventures, some more exciting than others, and now here they were all together in one ginormous movie. It was overwhelming and could have been incredibly unwieldy but Whedon somehow managed to keep everything balanced while simultaneously taking the Marvel universe to a whole other level. With three years now past, and another slew of Marvel movies now behind us, the Avengers have reassembled to save the world once again but this time around it feels like more of the same than a change in the game.


AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is an onslaught of dizzying action right out of the gate. As all of our heroes fight their way through an army of Hydra agents to take back the sceptre that fell into Hydra’s hands at the end of the first film, it is clear that Whedon is trying to outdo himself, and sadly, not very well at that. Whedon is great when being himself but attempting to top himself feels inauthentic, which Whedon is clearly not comfortable with. Regardless, the Avengers charge on, coming face to face with two new characters, the disturbed twins, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson), before finally reaching the sceptre. Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark / Iron Man is the one to actually get to the sceptre and as he arrives there, it feels oddly familiar, like we’ve already seen this done before. They spent the entire first movie chasing this powerful crystal down and yet here we are again. And the lack of originality doesn’t stop there either.


Once the gang gets back to New York, it is time for a party to celebrate their success. Before joining the festivities though, Tony has something he has to take care of first, unbeknownst to the rest of the group, save for Dr. Bruce Banner / The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), whom he lets in on the plan. In response to a vision Tony had when acquiring the sceptre, a vision he does not yet know is the doing of a certain witch, he wants to harness the power of the crystal and create Ultron, a super power designed to protect the world from alien invasion and certain annihilation. Bruce is reluctant at first but Tony can be very persuasive. They fiddle with their gadgetry and join the party, allowing their work to work itself out while Tony makes excuses for why Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) couldn’t make it and Bruce flirts awkwardly with Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Tony’s plan is successful but more so than he expected as Ultron (voiced perfectly by James Spader), an artificially intelligent being, is born and quickly realizes that the only way to truly protect the planet is to eliminate mankind altogether.


Artificial intelligence run amuck is nothing new (Skynet, anyone?). In fact, it seems to be how most artificial intelligence scenarios tend to go so I’m not sure why minds as supposedly great as Tony’s and Bruce’s weren’t able to foresee this. I’m also unclear as to how Whedon and the Marvel masterminds didn’t see this storyline as tired already. The Avengers are quite a force but even they can’t distract us enough from missing that. When the rest of the Avengers find out what Tony has done, you can see the group begin to fracture, which leads me to my biggest beef with AGE OF ULTRON; it feels like a bridge between pictures instead of a picture unto itself. Knowing that a civil war is coming with the next Captain America (Chris Evans) movie, it is painfully obvious how AGE OF ULTRON is just a stepping stone in a much bigger plan. Having the feeling that everything you’re watching is merely transitional makes the film feel slight, which is impressive considering how massive it all is. At times, it even feels like Whedon knows that he isn’t making a standalone picture, which may explain why he isn’t returning for the next instalment.


All the same, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is still an enjoyable popcorn movie. It will not have the same kind of impact as the first film did but people will still have fun with this not so merry band of misfits. To some extent, this is almost unavoidable. This ensemble continues to grow in both size and stature and just like they realize in the film, there is very little they can’t accomplish when they work together as a team. By the time the film reaches its awesome climax, its problems are practically forgotten and excitement is generated for what lies ahead but that excitement is once again muted when the credits teaser is revealed and we see that what lies ahead may in fact be more of the same as well. And if the Avengers can’t blow our minds, is superhero fatigue really as far off as some suggest?

3.5 sheep

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