Friday, 1 May 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron



“Avengers: Age of Ultron”, the sequel to Marvel’s 2012 hit, had a monumental task in living up to its predecessor. It did not disappoint.
The sequel sees the titular team up against an artificial intelligence (the ominously named Ultron (James Spader)) attempting to save the human race by wiping it out, because who’s going to hurt people if there are no people left? Complicating matters is the fact that Ultron is a creation of the team’s own Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and the involvement of the mysterious Maximoff twins Pietro (Alan Taylor Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen).
The film is darker and more personal than the original while maintaining director Joss Whedon’s trademark wit, and is stuffed with fantastic action sequences. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) takes a far more central role this time around and is a stand out amongst the already tremendous cast, and Andy Serkis leaves quite an impression in his brief role as South African smuggler Ulysses Klaue. Marvel newcomer James Spader is incredible as the villainous android Ultron, being completely terrifying in some scenes and utterly hilarious in the next, and is more entertaining and, strangely, more human than most of the villains that Marvel has had to offer so far.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has his own intriguing subplot that clearly was for the most part abandoned on the cutting room floor, and Captain America (Chris Evans) is far more interesting as a character thanks to his characterization in his last solo outing. Paul Bettany is clearly loving his upgrade from voice (Iron Man’s AI JARVIS) to Vision, who has some of the best moments in the film despite not appearing until the last thirty minutes. Olsen and Johnson similarly revel in their vaguely European accents, and their powers are visually astonishing.
The only thing really holding the film back was a ham-fisted romance between Banner and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) which felt incredibly forced, and sacrificed the fantastic characterizations the fan-favourites from the first film had in order to slap them together in what can only be described as way too much way too soon. That’s not to say the duo didn’t act their hearts out, because they did do an amazing job, but it wasn’t quite enough to save the poor writing.
Overall, the film was entertaining and some truly amazing action sequences and effects, with a creative and exiting finale that leaves the first film’s alien invasion dead in the water, and worked well by itself as well as setting up the plots for movies for years to come. It’s fast moving and had so much stuffed into it that a repeat viewing or two is definitely necessary, but sits high on the list of Marvel’s triumphs regardless.
Highly recommended, 8.4/10
-Marcus

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