This threat in particular is Ultron (James Spader), an artificial life form created by Tony "Iron Man" Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Bruce "The Hulk" Banner (Mark Ruffalo) from the artificial intelligence contained in Loki's staff to be such a powerful force of defense against world-spanning threats. Of course, this artificial life form turns out to determine the Avengers and humanity in general as the greatest threat to themselves, and with the help of the embittered Hydra-enhanced twins, Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), he sets off to take down the Avengers, who are themselves threatened by an internal rift in ideology.
This is a huge movie. The size of the principal cast alone dwarfs other movies, including the last Avengers film as several of the supporting characters from individual characters' films show up in Age of Ultron. Accordingly, the film's story gets very bogged down trying to service all of the characters and even at almost two an a half hours, it doesn't entirely succeed.
Tony Stark in particular seems to be ignoring the events of Iron Man 3, where he kind of gave up being Iron Man and gets back in the suit, seemingly still having failed to recover from the alien invasion of earth in Avengers. It really doesn't quite feel like enough of a reason for Stark to blindly create Ultron out of an alien intelligence, but I suppose villains are needed. Ultron itself is not an especially interesting villain either, and not only because he's predictable, but because his motivation is a touch lacking, but I give credit to Whedon and Spader for at least giving him more memorable a character than anticipated. What's more, his grand scheme was ultimately pretty lacking--it just wasn't very creative and it felt by-the-numbers.
Age of Ultron does at least give each character a few more moments than the first Avengers film, but it still seems little more than gloss or setup for the following films. But at least some of the smaller players, like Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), get some humanizing moments. It's a bit short of making the stakes in Age of Ultron feel meaningful, but at least the guys and gal without movies get to be more than just random agents.
I think the weakest part of Age of Ultron is shared with its predecessor: excessive and relatively boring action sequences. Writer-director Joss Whedon, perhaps at the behest of Marvel and Disney puts in several major battle sequences, which are all relatively long. Like the last one, there are lots of predictably placed, but kind of hard to believe feats of teamwork as the Avengers lay the beatdown on their hordes of foes, but until the final battle, there are never any felt stakes to the battles, which results in the actual action being kind of boring. Even most of the extras survive the city-leveling fights and they aren't shot in a particularly interesting way, just a flurry of images of baddies being disposed of. Yes, the earth's fate hangs in the balance, but since we know the Avengers are going to win and hardly lose anything in the process, it can be kind of like watching paint dry.
However, regardless of how on-rails the story and the action is, Whedon fortunately spices it up with his casual and irreverent sense of humor, ranging from the silliness of Monty Python-esque objections to casual home-owner banter in the middle of world-destroying combat. The levity added is welcome in the face of typical on-so-serious cataclysmic blockbuster plot that its presence actually helps keep the would-be boring sequences from falling into outright boredom.
In the end, Age of Ultron ends up kind of being exactly what you'd expect from an Avengers sequel and not a drop more. There's nothing surprising here and the film, like those major summer comics crossover events, acts more like a bridge to the individual movies. What Age of Ultron had to do is pretty much an impossible task to do excellently. It simply has way too many masters to serve, from roadmapping the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to giving attention to its enormous cast of characters, to trying to actually stuff all that into some semblance of an engaging story. I think Age of Ultron might have been able to pull it off if it were split into two films, but as it is, what Age was able to accomplish given what it was trying to do is still kind of impressive.
So, Age of Ultron is truly a sequel to the first Avengers film. And if you liked that previous film, you will most likely enjoy Age of Ultron. Despite all my misgivings, even I still managed to enjoy myself. 7/10
- Director: Joss Whedon
- Writer: Joss Whedon
- Principal Cast: Hayley Atwell, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Robert Downey, Jr., Idris Elba, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Stellan Skarsgård, Cobie Smulders, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
- Feature website
- At Daum, IMDb, Naver, Wikipedia (en)
- More Reviews: metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes
- Available at Amazon (US Region A Blu Ray) and iTunes