Avengers: Age of Ultron

Yeah, I couldn’t think of any fun title so I kept it simple. I went and saw Avengers: Age of Ultron opening weekend with a friend. (Yes, I’ve been trying to get this written up the way I wanted it for a while.) It’s always interesting to see other people’s view on movies like this, especially those who don’t have a background in comic books. As you would expect, even on Sunday night, the movie theatre was packed.

Was the movie good? I guess “good” is an accurate description. It was definitely not a bad movie, but it definitely could be better. A little levity in a movie can be nice. Depending on the action movie, it can be a nice break or it can break the pace of the movie. The Marvel movies have been shown to keep a good deal of humor in them. This movie excelled in that so much that half the time, I wasn’t sure if I was watching an action movie or a comedy. Multiple running gags got boring over time as well. I really would have loved to see a more serious take on the team. I think it would have been a lot more interesting to me. The action scenes were good and the plot did move along at a good enough pace though. Is it worth watching? Sure. I’m not saying don’t see it. For me, I’m just not sure it was really worth running right out for other than to write this up. I liked Joss Wheadon when he did Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think he should keep his hands off the Avengers though.

But, now on to some specifics. Let’s start with the characters themselves.

* * Minor Spoilers * *

Let’s begin with the previously introduced cast…

Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. plays the role of Tony Stark as well as ever. He’s probably about the best cast character of the group. In this movie though, he crosses back and forth between being humorous and being a totally untrustable asshole. (I won’t get into the details on that until further down in the major spoilers section.) I’m seeing this in the comics and cartoons as well though. Tony has always had an ego but it’s getting a bit much. He’s getting to be more and more of an unlikeable character to me.

Captain America Chris Evans is a good looking guy. I really think he was better suited for the Human Torch though. Captain America has never been a comedic character and the subtle humor is one thing that Evans excels at. Beyond that, the character comes off sort of flat and boring. He is probably the least memorable character out the whole movie.

Thor Thor is Thor. There’s not much more to him really. Chris Hemsworth looks good as Thor and does his expected shirtless shot as usual and then runs around beating stuff up. Other than that, he sort of blends in with the rest of the group.

Hulk Mark Ruffalo plays an even wimpier and naive Banner than ever in this movie. It’s sad the way he goes around asking if it is time for a “Code Green” (lame code word for needing the Hulk) and is so reticent to become the Hulk after seeming so in control in the last movie. Even the Hulk himself is questionable at times. Yes, Hulk smashes. But the fact that Black Widow has such control over him that she can easily pacify him back into Banner is pretty sad. Banner is also so oblivious to the way she acts towards him too that it’s annoying. He’s like a school kid at times.

Hawkeye I have to say that it is good to actually see some good Hawkeye time in the movie after he was just a mind controlled automaton for much of the first Avengers movie. One thing I noticed is that, despite where Jeremy Renner fits age-wise among the cast, Hawkeye looks so much older than the rest. I do have to say that I like the way that Hawkeye interacts among the other Avengers. It seems very true to character. Him having a hidden established family with a wife and kids seems a little weird though.

Black Widow It’s a bit annoying the control Black Widow has over both Banner and the Hulk. The way she flirts with Banner all the time is so out of character. The whole “I can’t have kids because they made me barren when I became a Russian spy” thing was so out of left field and unnecessary that it’s ridiculous. It seems like it’s done more for shock than to move the story along. Other than battle time, it seem like she’s mostly there to play around with Banner/Hulk. She was so much more interesting doing more spy type stuff in the first movie.

War Machine War Machine/Rhodes has a minor part in the movie but does pop up a couple times. I have to say I really don’t like Don Cheadle playing the part of James Rhodes. Rhodes is a strong person so it suits him to be someone like War Machine. The character in the movie comes off wimpy enough that even Peter Parker might have picked on him in high school. I’m glad that he wasn’t in the movie very long.

Falcon Falcon gets even less screen time than War Machine, only appearing quickly in a couple scenes. I’d really have loved to see more of him and less of War Machine, honestly.

And now on to the new characters.

Quicksilver I really like the casting for Quicksilver. Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays the character well. The attitude he has is just right and the accent suits the gypsy heritage the twins grew up with in the comic books. I love the homage to Quicksilver’s old costume with the lightning bolt across the chest with the bolts down the side of the shirt he wore later in the movie. I’d love to get a shirt like that though I’d never look as good in it. (Having the shirt extend down to also make fingerless gloves was a total design travesty though.) Honestly, looking at other pictures of Aaron, I don’t think I’d recognize him from the look in the movie.

Scarlet Witch Elizabeth Olsen does a good job as the Scarlet Witch as well. She’s got that strong but unsure/not so strong vibe that Wanda had early on when she more or less just followed along with Pietro. The downfall of the character is that she does not have her hex abilities. She is a telepath and telekinetic along with some other stuff. She mainly uses her abilities to mess with people’s minds and blast stuff around. That part, I was not impressed with.

Ultron The look of Ultron is decent but I really would have liked to have seen the internal plasma that everyone is used to seeing in Ultron’s eyes and mouth. The shape is generally close enough but given the metal forming of him, it seems severely out of place the way the character’s mouth moves, flexing the way human lips do. I think that was probably one of the biggest annoyance I had with any character. Even the way the character is built in the movie, it should not move like that. I’m not sure if they were doing that to make him more human or what but they made the character too human as it was, apologizing for stuff and acting all goofy at points. No!!! Ultron is a single minded logical AI determined to take over the world and destroy humanity. The only human type thing I can remember him doing in the comics was to make Jacosta. I really wasn’t happy with the character.

Vision I didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out but Vision is played by the guy who voiced Jarvis all the way back to the first Iron Man movie. I wonder if they had that in mind as a possibility when they cast him originally or what. On the good side, they had the character down pretty well in terms of look and powers. They tweaked the visuals a little for style instead of being totally flat but the general color scheme and pattern were all there. He had flight, a gem for firing blasts, and turned intangible. The fact that the solar gem is actually an infinity gem in the movie is a bit odd but I’m guessing they are just trying to tie that in with the storyline and some other gem might be harder to explain. The partly biological part of his creation was probably the part I least liked.

And now on to the real meat of the review.

* * * SPOILERS * * *

OK. I started writing about the movie and realized it was coming off as a lot of unnecessary fact and decided to just comment on a handful of things.

We start out mid-battle with the Avengers storming the castle of Baron Strucker. The battle is interesting watching how each Avenger does on his or her own as well as how they work as a team. We also see “the twins” mentioned in Captain America: Winter Soldier, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. When you don’t see them in the room all of a sudden, you know things are about to really happen. With the Avengers winning on the battle field, the twins go to help out. Quicksilver speeds around the field taking people down and uses the running gag line “Bet you didn’t see that coming.” for the first time. Once the battle is concluded, the Black Widow is able to go up to Hulk and get him to calm right down without much effort. I thought the solution here (which we see again in the movie) is much too easy.

While in the castle, Tony Stark gets out of his armor (Really? In the middle of battle, who does that?) and goes over through the computer files, downloading what ends up being the A.I. that turns into Ultron. Him keeping this from all of the Avengers except Banner is one thing that makes him an asshole and part of the whole problem. Of course, before we can see Ultron, we have to have a testosterone driven scene where all the male Avengers try to lift Thor’s hammer unsuccessfully. When we do see Ultron, he’s made up of such scrap parts that he looks like something out of the Walking Dead. I’m guessing this was done for some effect before he gets his regular body but it escapes me.

We see the Scarlet Witch mess with the Avengers minds giving them something I can only describe as a bad dream while awake. All the scenes they used for that didn’t really seem to add to the story at all. Just seeing them writhing on the floor would have been fine. The scenes were just confusing. After a bunch of feel good scenes, we get to the obligatory shot of Chris Hemsworth shirtless after a very confusing bit of what I’m taking as prophetic visions. (No, I’m not complaining about the shirtless scene at all other than that it could have been longer. Maybe we should have used the time from the bad dreams for that instead.) There’s still a lot of fighting to go both when the Avengers capture the Vision’s body (and gain the twins on the team) and then move on to the final battle. They are decent scenes but my favorite is when the Avengers are all back to back and fighting off Ultron’s army of robots. The was the ultimate action scene of the movie.

Just after the battle was one of the parts of the movie that really pissed me off — Quicksilver getting killed saving Hawkeye. I mean, it’s cool that they showed him as a hero, but Joss Wheadon’s “We need to kill someone off…” reputation is annoying as hell. (At least after killing Coleson off in the first movie, they came up with a way to bring him back in the TV show.) And then there was the return of the running “bet you didn’t see that coming” gag which sorta ruins the moment a bit and is a poke as Joss’ reputation as well. Now, they didn’t actually say he was dead, but you do see him laying there riddled with bullets and his eyes still wide open. Plus, Wanda senses his and ends up letting her powers blast out at full force around her. (Also, Aaron Taylor-Johnson isn’t showing as in the cast of anything coming up like Elizabeth Olsen is.) Now they did have a scene earlier where they showed the Avengers’ doctor heal up Hawkeye good as new and they show her at the new headquarters after the battle so you never know what they’ll do.

The ending of the movie is very reminiscent of the first major Avengers line-up change. In the comics, everyone but Captain America leaves and Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch join. In the movie, Captain America and Black Widow stick around and War Machine, Falcon, Vision, and the Scarlet Witch join. I’m not sure how this will work out for future movies, but I guess we’ll see. Maybe we’ll be lucky and they’ll recast James Rhodes again and things will be better because if I have to deal with that wimp in the Avengers….. GRRR!!!!

SO, does the good outweigh the bad? I’m not really sure. I still stand by my middle of the road original description. We have the good portrayal of the 3 new heroes and some decent action scenes vs. the death of Quicksilver, the excessive humor, and the poor portrayal of Ultron and original team. I really have to say I’m up in the air on this one. If I was doing one of the 5 star ratings, I’d probably give it a 3.

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