Avengers: Age of Ultron, |
directed by Joss Whedon
(Walt Disney Pictures, 2015)
Avengers: Age of Ultron is good enough in that it serves up the same fun as the first installment. There are truly evil bad guys (robots, this time), a not-unbelievable romance, quips and puns galore and loads of action set pieces. It's definitely more cohesive than the first Avengers movie, with an intriguing plot and good spotlighting of some previously overlooked characters. It's well-made, but ultimately more like cotton candy than anything truly substantive.
Director Joss Whedon's love of each and every character is quite clear. Some scenes are truly gripping, as with the Iron Man vs. Hulk scene. The team has to face the same hurdle of having to pull together and work as one unit in order to defeat world-ending disaster, in the form of fascistic robots who want to turn the planet into Robotopia. There's plenty of room for each character, every one of them getting a ton of lines. Yet for all the heavy hitting in every department, this latest Avengers film doesn't feel memorable, perhaps because it doesn't engage in any real risk-taking. Its reach is wide but ultimately shallow.
Following a raid on a HYDRA compound, the Avengers discover a piece of artificial intelligence, intelligence that Tony Stark wants to merge with his J.A.R.V.I.S. program to create world peace via the ultimate global defense system. Ultron is the end result, a conglomerate robot type being whose programming goes hideously awry in an accident during the development phase. The newly created villain works with genetically mutated twins Pietro and Wanda, whose speed and mind-altering powers respectively help him mess with the Avengers in extremely creative ways as he amasses a robot army to take over the world.
A more charismatic bad guy would have helped knit the film together a bit more, but there isn't a Loki around. The tightly paced plot, with no wasted words or space, is still somewhat underwhelming in its predictability. By the middle of the film the action seems somewhat rote, with the characters not doing much more than plowing through set-piece after laser-blasted set-piece. There are too many characters to follow, with everyone's tragic backstory blending into blurry subplots that weigh down the action. It's the relentless nature of the film that makes it seem as though the point is being driven home with a jackhammer rather than a well-aimed, well-timed punch.
For all it's a bit bloated, Avengers: Age of Ultron is still massive fun, with an earnest, warm-heartedness that carries it through. It's a ton of fun, not difficult to digest and chock full of neat stuff like robots and love stories. Not a bad sign-off for Whedon.
15 August 2015
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