johnlink ranks AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)

As usual, I’m a little late to the party. This is one I definitely would have seen during its theatrical run were I not living on the coast of Maine far from a standard multiplex. It ran up here for a weekend, but I just never got out. That’s ok though. Time Warner owed me a free PPV movie for some service outage I think I slept through, so better late than never.

Avengers-assembled

I watched AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015) on 10.24.15. It was my first viewing of the film.

In lesser hands, a movie like this would be way to unwieldy. Joss Whedon has a ton of characters and story elements to maneuver through in the course of 140 minutes. He uses the institutional knowledge as it pertains to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is little exposition here, with an opening team-building battle serving as all we need to know.

Instead of spending time getting to know folks that have had multiple movies worth of backstory, we instead jump right in to the conflict. The battles within the Avengers group are far more dangerous than the outside enemies. When an alien weapon is found, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) convinces Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to help hack the weapon in order to build an ultimate defense system for the planet. This goes wrong, of course, and the robotic Ultron (voiced by James Spader) is born. The rest of the team, led by Captain America (Chris Evans) is less than happy that Stark put them all in harms way without telling them, and a mild rip of distrust becomes a crevice. In many ways, Stark is as much a villain as Ultron in this film. It is his hubris that launches the major conflict, though the team must also count on that same hubris to get them out of it.

This is a film which seems too large for the less powerful members Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). But the script does a really solid job of making them vital. For Natasha, the hook comes in the form of a budding romance with Bruce. For Clint, the hook comes from him being the most likable member of the team and having a secret family stashed away in the country. Both of these story lines work, though the Black Widow/Hulk love affair seems a little more contrived than organic. But using Hawkeye’s family in a positive and unexpected way really is effective.

Also effective are the early film villains Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). These twins (ne: The Siblings Maximoff) are powerful characters that feel like anything but henchmen. Olsen, in particular, gives another transcendent performance that is stronger than the material on the page. She is easily the best actress under the age of 30 working today, and this AVENGERS sequel only adds to that.

There are some cool parts of this film. While the opening battle feels less in control of the CGI as the rest of the movie, the computer graphics overall work. The Hulkbuster Iron Man is cool, and that battle is awesome (even if the movie brushes off the massive amount of damage that is done). The banter is as solid as ever. The in-fighting gives the movie an anchor. And the final battle is an appropriate climax.  The battles with Ultron are strong.

That said, it is hard for this movie to live up to the craziness of the first AVENGERS film and, indeed, this feels more like a sequel than a stand alone film. While this is strong entertainment, the bar is set so high by the continually excellent films in the Marvel Universe, that this really entertaining film cannot live up to some unfairly lofty expectations. It’s great, though it gets slightly bogged down by the ‘dream sequences’ in the film’s middle.

But the sheer number of characters does not bog it down, as mentioned above. In addition to the main players, a whole bunch of auxiliary folks from the IRON MAN, THOR, and CAPTAIN AMERICA stand alone films are important players. Even the TV show spinoff gets air time here. It’s a lot to digest, but Whedon does a really nice hob of never letting it get confusing.

I’ll be in for any other films from these characters. Believe it or not, this movie left me wanting a stand alone HAWKEYE film more than anything. But, alas, despite a full roster of Marvel super hero films, that one is not on the list. On a personal note, I know only need to see ANT-MAN to be fully caught up here. One day I’ll run through all of these films in chronological order, but that’s probably several years of…

SCORES

FILM: 6; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 7

6+8+6+7+0=27

FINAL SCORE: 6.75 out of 10

 

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~ by johnlink00 on October 25, 2015.

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