US Release Date: 05-01-2015
Directed by: Joss Whedon
- Robert Downey Jr., as
- Tony Stark / Iron Man
- Chris Hemsworth, as
- Mark Ruffalo, as
- Bruce Banner / Hulk
- Chris Evans, as
- Steve Rogers / Captain America
- Scarlett Johansson, as
- Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
- Jeremy Renner, as
- Clint Barton / Hawkeye
- James Spader, as
- Ultron (voice)
- Samuel L. Jackson, as
- Nick Fury
- Don Cheadle, as
- James Rhodes / War Machine
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson, as
- Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver
- Elizabeth Olsen, as
- Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
- Paul Bettany, as
- Jarvis / Vision
- Cobie Smulders, as
- Maria Hill
- Anthony Mackie, as
- Sam Wilson / The Falcon
- Hayley Atwell, as
- Peggy Carter
- Idris Elba, as
- Stellan Skarsgard, as
- Erik Selvig
- Linda Cardellini, as
- Laura Barton
- Claudia Kim, as
- Dr. Helen Cho
- Thomas Kretschmann, as
- Andy Serkis, as
- Ulysses Klaue
- Julie Delpy, as
- Madame B
- Stan Lee, as
- Josh Brolin as
The team goes into action in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
If you enjoyed the 2012 Avengers movie you'll more than likely enjoy this one too. With the return of Joss Whedon as writer/director the franchise has ensured itself another critical and box office success. All the winning ingredients that made the first film such fun are back and this time around there's the added element of visiting old friends. All of the familiar faces have returned, although the team dynamics are changing as these characters get to know each other better and better. The action and humor are as seamlessly blended as in the first movie.
In fact, the only problem I had with Age of Ultron is that it's too much like the first Avengers movie (and they both run about 20 minutes too long). Actually that's a problem in many of today's movie franchises, but especially the superhero movies. In plot and structure they feel more like episodes of a television series. We know that in each episode the Avengers will band together to save the planet from a super villain while cracking wise.
There's a running gag about Steve Rogers's old-fashioned aversion to swearing that produces a few big laughs here. In another funny scene all of the other male members of the team attempt to lift Thor's Hammer. Like I said it's a winning formula but it is nonetheless predictable. If you're looking for originality look elsewhere.
This time around they must battle a super powerful artificial intelligence created by a combination of a computer program built by Tony Stark and the mystical power of the gem on Loki's scepter (one of the six legendary Infinity Stones). The resulting entity calls itself Ultron and it's bent on the extinction of humanity. The special effects during the big action sequences are as state of the art as you would expect, although I didn't pay extra to see it in 3D.
Another thing we know going in is that Stan Lee will pop up in a humorous cameo, although the young boy behind me in the theater had no idea who the guy playing the belligerent old soldier was. And, so far at least, we also know that Black Widow will have some sort of flirtation/romance with a teammate. In the first movie she flirted with Hawkeye and this time around she's fallen for the mild mannered Bruce Banner. Plus she seems to have developed the ability to calm him down when he's the Hulk. Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo make a nice couple but since he has a tendency to destroy cities when he gets pissed off their relationship has a rocky road ahead. Their storyline ends on a cliffhanger.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is exactly what you expect it to be; another entertaining episode in the ongoing adventures of a great superhero team. As long as they keep the core group of actors together, and Joss Whedon keeps directing -and writing such funny dialogue- then the Age of Avengers should last a long time.
Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Evans in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
With its Marvel division, Walt Disney has revived the old studio system. It has actors under long term contracts and it molds, not so much the actors themselves, but their characters with great care. Like an assembly line it keeps churning out hit after hit. This latest superhero movie to end all superhero movies is more of the same and then some. As Patrick said, its a winning formula that has so far been bulletproof, guaranteeing huge box office numbers regardless of what the critics say. Fortunately though, it would take a very cynical critic indeed to not be entertained by this big budget spectacle.
Like Patrick, my biggest problem with these movies are their epic length. The characters, all of whom have been perfectly cast, share a great chemistry together and Whedon knows how to write great and witty dialogue. It's the scenes of the characters bantering with each other that are the film's most entertaining. The action scenes however all feel very similar, especially since there have been so many superhero movies packed into theaters over the past few years. And perhaps they feel a little less special because, given that most of the action is CGI and many of the fight scenes were reportedly directed by second unit directors, in many of these scenes none of the main cast or Joss Whedon were even present for their filming. Although the action scenes caused the packed audience I saw this with to audibly cheer, I was happier in the quiet moments.
Along with the familiar faces, the story introduces new heroes. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen appear as Quicksilver and and the Scarlet Witch. Because Disney doesn't own the film rights to the X-Men, the twins' origin story has been changed from their comic book counterparts and they are no longer mutants. Their presence is a nice change of pace and Whedon was happy to include them because as he put it, the superpowers of the Avengers in the first film all involved punching. Quicksilver's super-speed and especially Scarlet Witch's mind powers change things up a bit.
Another change in the storyline is the romance between Natasha and Bruce Banner. In the first film it was hinted that she had a relationship with Hawkeye, but that seems to have been retconned out this time around. Despite this inconsistency, Natasha and Bruce's moments together are still quite nice. After two previous failed attempts to give the Hulk his own film with first Eric Bana and then Edward Norton, the studio has finally found the right actor and the right tone with Mark Ruffalo's portrayal. He brings some nice sensitivity to the human side while Whedon has fun using "the other guy" to good comedic effect.
With such a huge cast, Whedon deserves enormous credit for being able to juggle them all so well. Everyone gets their moment in the spotlight but always in connection with the main storyline. As is so often the case, Robert Downey Jr. is a scene stealer as Tony Stark, but he never overshadows the film. The villain, voiced brilliantly by James Spader, is a match for all of the Avengers and instantly iconic as well.
For now at least Joss Whedon is saying this was his last Avengers film. Given the vast amounts of money it has already made and is sure to make in the future it remains to be seen whether or not Disney will be able to lure him back into the director's chair. Or perhaps, like the studios of old they see their product being bigger than one man and figure that with the right guidance from the studio heads, anyone can yell "Action". Only time will tell.
Chris Evans as Captain America in Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a fan boy’s wet dream. Joss Whedon clearly read comic books at some point in his life. The slow motion action scene that is in Patrick’s review is a typical type of comic book cover, with all of the main characters in action. In fact, this film is so loaded with action that the long running time did not seem long to me at all. When not fighting we get the treat of watching the characters different personalities intermingle with one another.
As my brothers wrote, the humor and tension work well together. Whedon writes appropriate dialogue and each character gets some good ones. After being called “boss” Tony Stark refers to Captain America and says, “Actually he's the boss. I just pay for everything and design everything, make everyone look cooler.” When talking to Bruce Banner at the climactic battle, Natasha Romanoff kisses and tells him, “I adore you...but I need the Other Guy.” She then does something kind of rude. The most heroic line comes from Hawkeye when he is pinned down in a building with Wanda, “If you step out that door, you're an Avenger.” The single best line in the film is when Steve Rogers directs the Avengers, just prior to the battle, “You get hurt, hurt 'em back. You get killed... walk it off.” Even the recently manufactured Vision has some good lines. After Ultron calls him “naïve”, The Vision responds, “Well, I was born yesterday.”
For me, the least interesting character, and the one who seems the most out of place is Thor. He is a “God” with a one note joke about his status as such. In one scene he attempts to stall by announcing, “I am Thor, son of Odin…” After Wanda uses her powers to create illusions to confuse the Avengers, Thor arrogantly states, “That witch put a spell on me! Fortunately, I am mighty...” before falling into one of her illusions. It is meant as another joke about his pride but it is simply another example of his one dimensional personality.
With Stark we get a man with good intention that gets blinded by his own need to create and play god. Rogers is a man of honor and conviction but he has to often re-evaluate his conscience. Romanoff was raised to kill but we see she has a heart that wants to be loved. At the opposite power spectrum from Thor is Clint Barton. His only super power is his Olympic quality archery and an array of arrows. Whereas Thor sits on a throne in Asgard, we see here just how normal Barton is when not assembling with the Avengers. The action keeps the movie moving along but the personalities add a much needed level of interest.
Like Patrick, I too felt this was just another entertaining episode, or comic book issue. There is very little story arc. Are any of these characters any different at the end than what they were from the start? Some have made decisions and some may have a new understanding but as these are comic book characters, anything can change and anything can happen. (I just read another actor is being considered to play Spiderman.) It is a huge amount of fun spending time with The Avengers but my emotional investment is always kept in neutral.
Photos © Copyright Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2015)