Saturday, 2 May 2015
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Movie Review)
First off, I'll try to make this review as spoiler free as possible, for the sake of those of you who are yet to see the movie. In other words, I wouldn't be touching upon any specific plot points, beyond what can already be gleaned from watching any one of the movie's trailers. Secondly, I'll do my best to answer the all important question: is the movie as good or better than the first one?
To answer that question, we would first need to put things in proper perspective. A lot has happened to peoples' expectations since the first Avengers movie was released in 2012. Man of Steel has raised the bar in terms of superhero action. Captain America: Winter Soldier has raised the bar in terms of intelligent storytelling. Guardians of the Galaxy has raised the bar in terms of comedic performances. So you should understand why expectations are high for the Avengers sequel.
Right off the bat, the movie opens with the Avengers doing what they do best, avenging. This time around, it is against the Hydra villain, Baron Strucker, who had been conducting experiments using Loki's scepter. After retrieving the scepter, Tony Stark decides to conduct some experiments of his own, having discovered what looked like code for an artificial intelligence inside the artifact. This inadvertently gives birth to Ultron, the titular villian who is hellbent on bringing the human race to extinction.
One of the highlights of the first Avengers movie was in the strength of its villain, the brilliant Loki. So it is almost impossible to avoid comparing him with Ultron, even though comparing the two of them is like comparing apples to oranges. That said, I think that Ultron more than holds his own, having been depicted as a surprisingly altruistic robot with a touch of a superiority complex. He is beautifully voiced by the ever-amazing James Spader, and stands as a highlight in his own right.
In terms of action, the movie more than delivers, with the Iron Man and Hulk fight being one of the most memorable. The action might prove difficult to follow for some though, with too many things happening at the same time and barely enough room to process it all. In terms of character development, we got to learn more about the somewhat mysterious Clint Barton (aka. Hawkeye). We also got glimpses into Black Widow's back story, even though her character had already benefited from being featured in three different movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
But perhaps the movie's greatest shortcoming is the presence of too many players. Aside from the Avengers themselves, there were a number of supporting characters from other movies in the MCU. I'm talking about Nick Fury, Heimdall, War Machine and Falcon. Add that to the introduction of new characters like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, not to mention a certain key player who I would say nothing about (other than the fact that he is quite possibly the most awesome character in the entire MCU), and you have a movie that often felt like it was bursting at the seams.
So, the big question. Is it better than the first one? Well... it depends on how you choose to look at it. It definitely felt like a logical progression of events from the first movie and the other movies in Phase Two of the MCU. Although I must confess that I was one of those who was initially disappointed that the movie wouldn't deal with the Thanos threat. So on that note, the whole thing felt like excellent buildup to Phase Three and the next movies in the Avengers franchise, Infinity War Part I and II.
Now drop everything you're doing and go out to see the movie, if you haven't already. But not before you prepare to have your mind blown.