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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Movie Review- Avengers: Age of Ultron

Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, and Chris Hemsworth, reassemble in Avengers: Age of Ultron


Introduction

Comic book movie franchises use a similar formula to what other film franchises do when it comes to sequels which is, the one-upping of their previous films. It's inevitable in this business. More effects, more characters, and more money. The biggest casualty in the franchise sequel monster, almost always seems to be that of substance. It turns out that more more more, is actually less less less. Three films instantly come to mind when it comes to that problem in the superhero genre; The infamous Batman & Robin from 1997, the unbalanced X-Men: The Last Stand, and the most disappointing sequel ever (to me anyway), Spiderman 3. All of them had huge budgets, larger casts, and more problems than you could shake a fan boy foam finger at. For the most part, I'm fine with more effects for a sequel, just as long as they don't go overboard. What bugs me the most, is the studio's belief that cramming as many characters as possible into a sequel, will somehow cover up the fact that their stories are rushed and extremely lacking.
 
 

Avengers: Age of Ultron

 
Avengers: Age of Ultron, is another superhero sequel that follows the studio philosophy of more more more. There's a bigger budget ($280 million), there's a lot more visual effects (over 3,000 shots), and a whole slew of extra characters (I ran out of fingers and toes while counting). Thankfully, there's more right about this film than wrong. Director Joss Whedon being able to wrangle up this huge cast while dealing with studio pressure, and still make an entertaining Summer movie, is a commendable effort in itself. However, when it's all said and done, that's all this movie is,  just a sequel. Here's my biggest problem with this film; It spends so much time connecting itself to other Marvel properties and future projects that, much of the film loses its grounding. Also, it's called "Age of Ultron" yet, the Ultron villain (fantastically voiced by James Spader) doesn't get time to grow (or evolve) and ends up just being that current baddie in the way. Marvel is making dozens of other films in the next couple of decades so, why not let Ultron have its moment in the sun and let everything else sort itself out over time? Same goes for Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson). They are in the entire film but, they don't really say, anything.
 
What this film lacks in composure and character depth, is balanced by its sense of humor and moments of fun. Whether it's an ongoing sarcastic remark about Captain America's (Chris Evans) wholesomeness, or some sight gags with Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) hammer, there are plenty of funny moments. I just wish there could have been a little more Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) sarcasm than there was. The action itself, is near constant throughout and fun in most parts but, that sense of awe that I got from the first Avengers is absent this time around. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) gets more screen time than he did three years ago but, somehow he feels like mostly background because of the character overload. Luckily, he gets a moment to shine in the best action scene of the film; The Hulkbuster fight. The Hulk versus Iron Man scene went on for what seemed like ten minutes of face punching, mega destruction, on a citywide scale, that's as funny as it is cool. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) gets some lead time and actual dialogue this time around and, the movie's better off for it. We get to see into Black Widow's (Scarlett Johansson) dark past and have fun with her as she woos Dr. Banner. Out of all of the characters in this film, the two most interesting ones, had a short time to establish themselves but, they make their mark. Andy Serkis (King Kong) as future Black Panther film villain, Ulysses Klaue, has pretty much a cameo but, he plays a dirty arms dealer with just the right amount of wit and deception that, I can't wait to see him again. Paul Bettany (Legion) shows promise with a level of controlled acting that dwarfs everyone else in this film as, The Vision. The rest of the cast is properly relegated to a one or two scene appearance and for the most part, they fit well. I just wonder how Marvel is going to handle even more characters down the road being on the screen at the same time together. It can definitely work on the pages of a comic book but, where do you have to draw the line cinematically?
 
 

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Avengers: Age of Ultron

 
The Good- The dinner party at Stark's tower; It had more form than the rest of the film. Everyone came off as open, honest, and overall comfortable.
 
The Bad- Even though the end battle had a beautiful sequence where all of the Avengers were shown in a fighting collage style, it still came off as a rip off of the final battle in part 1 but, with robots instead of the Chitauri aliens.
 
The Ugly- NO HULK SMASH!!! Come on guys. You gotta use what works and, that works every freaking time!
 
 

Final Thoughts on Avengers: Age of Ultron

 
Avengers: Age of Ultron has its problems for sure but, it entertains like a Summer blockbuster should. Definitely worth seeing in theaters. Stay half way through the end credits for something cool. I'm actually looking forward to Joss Whedon stepping down and handing the reins to the Russo brothers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) for the next Avengers film. Whedon did okay with this one but, it's pretty much Iron Man 2 with all of Tony's friends sleeping over for way too long. Time for some new perspective. Oh yeah, if you're looking for the Star Wars trailer to show with this film, good luck. I saw this film three times on a regular, a 3D XD, and a drive-in screen. Each screen had different trailers except for the out of place film, Dope, which was strangely on every showing. The Star Wars trailer only played on the 3D screen for me. Of course, you could just watch the trailer on YouTube for as many times as you like, instead of overly bitching about it like my podcast partner. Oops!
Rating- 6.5 out of 10
 
Running Time- 141 Minutes
Comic Book/Sci-Fi Fantasy/Action
 
 

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