REVIEW: Avengers – Age of Ultron (2015)

Marvel Studios poster for Avengers: Age of Ultron

The following is a spoiler free review of Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. The original review was more positive, but I still like the film.

Marvel’s The Avengers is one of the biggest films for comic book nerds across the globe. But with the incredibly successful first Avengers outing in mind, could Joss Whedon and Kevin Feige surprise and wow us again? Well, yes and no. Whedon makes some superhero movie-sins, but does give us visual spectacle.

The Avengers reassemble to battle Hydra, but as they finally encounter the ominous twins from the Captain America: Winter Soldier mid-credits scene they slowly start to lose control. Stark, Rogers, Odinson, Romanoff, Banner, and Barton take on a foe greater than they’ve ever encountered in Ultron. Revelations soon tear the assembled unit apart. That’s the basic premise of this great Avengers sequel, which is as dark as expected – but still as Whedonesque as ever.

One of the only problems I had with the first Avengers film was that the first act was incredibly slow, thankfully Age of Ultron kicks off in style with a great hero shot, and a lot of humor. The second act of the film is slow, but intriguing. The second act probably is the most problematic thing about the film, but there is enough to enjoy about it.

The twins, the Maximoffs, were very entertaining – but I don’t believe they ever called them by their comic book nicknames. Pietro will always be compared to the Days of Future Past-version, and I actually think Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s version did fine. Similarly, I thought Wanda Maximoff was a great character – kudos to Elizabeth Olsen. They do adopt Russian accents, but they didn’t bother me too much. Elizabeth Olsen’s character might be the most interesting of the two, but her accent did slip once or twice, I believe.

Paul Bettany is great in this film. I’m a big fan of his new character, and his comic book origin issue is one of my favorite comic book issues ever. I’m overjoyed to tell you that Whedon does the character justice. In case you don’t know of the character, I won’t mention him by name – but he has appeared in the trailers.

Downey Jr., Evans, Johansson, Ruffalo, and Hemsworth were great as always – and their characters were as true to their comic book counterparts as ever. I did have problems with how Whedon used Thor in the second act, though – but he kickstarted the third act in a great way. Thor is a huge part of the superhero movie-sin that I can’t really discuss at length without going into spoilers. But Whedon chose to tease the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a clunky way. It could have been much more elegant.

I don’t think I would’ve used Samuel L. Jackson in this film, and I thought Nick Fury stood out in a really bad way. I like the character, and Jackson is perfect as Fury, but I think they should’ve just given Cobie Smulders’ character (Maria Hill) his part in the film.

Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo’s characters are, as hinted in the trailers, romantically connected in this film – but it didn’t feel tagged on at all. It worked beautifully, and I thought Whedon handled their relationship incredibly well in the final scenes.

Now onto the star of the film. Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton is so great in this film. His character was mishandled in the first film, but Whedon does Hawkeye justice in this one. Jeremy has a ton of great scenes, but one of his last scenes impressed me. Barton’s an Avenger, as much as anyone else is, and he has a great speech in Age of Ultron that made me love his character much more.

The two great villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, prior to this film, are Wilson Fisk and Loki. Yet the villains in the MCU movies aren’t given a lot of credit. After this film you’re going to have a new good villain to add to your list. James Spader is menacing but humorous as Ultron. This just goes to show that when you hire this kind of acting talent for a great character, you are treated to a spectacle. I do think some people will argue that he isn’t very memorable, and I would probably agree with that, though.

Marvel‘s big Phase 2 event-film does a great job at preparing us for the biggest phase yet. Phase 3 will be huge, and thanks to another great performance behind the camera by Whedon and his team, I couldn’t be more excited. There are some issues with the film, but Avengers: Age of Ultron is a really enjoyable blockbuster.

Final Score: 7.9 out of 10.0 – Whedon’s seemingly last Marvel film is a flawed vision, but a lot of fun.

I’m Jeffrey Rex

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