So let me clear, if this Avengers sequel was just everyone sitting around a kitchen table in a comically ‘normal’ setting lovingly and sarcastically throwing shade at one another. I’d totally be on board. And for the moments where that happened, I loved this latest Avengers adventure.
[SPOILER WARNING: For those who have not seen the movie and don’t want to be spoiled, this may not be the review for you. I’m going to try to not give away too much, but no promises. You’ve been warned]
Having Iron Man and Captain America bantering with each other, while Thor hilariously tries to give encouragement is priceless and real. Giving Hawkeye and Black Widow back stories made them approachable. Allowing the Hulk to work his magic in the lab and live the life of a man strengthened his humanity. Even the newcomer twins transcended their powers in little moments of affection.
What allows the Avengers to work is this fleshing out of these characters. That they become more than their hero personas, but actual people struggling with their own humanity. That they make mistakes, crack jokes, and give each other a hard time. Yes, they are an elite group of fighters saving the Earth from imminent destruction, but what allows us to connect with them is these small moments of dialogue, sometimes even in a relaxed(ish) atmosphere.
That’s what I enjoyed most about this second Avengers outing.
Over the course of however many movies (god, is this really the 9th one?) we’ve gotten to know these characters and had the opportunity to see them interact pretty seamlessly across multiple movies working in a larger cinematic universe. We’ve come to know them, care about them and enjoy seeing them kick ass. But, what the first Avengers and now this Avengers excels at is having these real moments of dialogue and interaction. Of course the action is exciting and the plot compelling, but what elevates this from just a regular action movie is these moments of realness. Which is found in the dialogue, in the quiet moments around the table.
This movie picks up immediately with the whole team together again fighting to retrieve Loki’s scepter, which of course caused so much damage in the first installment. It was a good transition reminding viewers of their past awesomeness and reveling in that (but actually, reveling is a thing. The Avengers hang out at a party together. One of those relaxed atmosphere moments I mentioned), before moving into this installment’s big predicament, Ultron, the evils of AI and the ethics of Big Brother.
Ultron: Creepy Spader and the Power Crusade
I like James Spader on the Blacklist (on NBC, anybody?), and his voice was definitely an asset to the movie. He seems to have the innate ability to be pretentious, creepy and authoritative, sometimes all at the same time. Basically, exactly what you need for your run of the mill psychopath super villain. He doesn’t disappoint and has big Earth-destroying goals that gives the Avengers a run for their money. Kinda. Sorta. He’s a robot created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, unintentionally, he was meant to be a peacemaker (not a homicidal maniac). He can’t differentiate between saving the Earth and destroying it, and so determines that all must die, particularly the Avengers.
The action is good, the plot is fast-paced, the new characters engaging, and pretty much all of our characters go through some kind of existential crisis that ties in their past history (movies and otherwise), trust me a good thing in the character development department. It makes those emotional cues all the more emotional. Our heroes are grounded, dialogue sound and a villain that seems to have it all figured out. The elements of a blockbuster action movie are all present.
And yet, it seemed to fall a bit flat to me. Maybe it’s because Ultron appeared out of nowhere, immediately became homicidal and immediately had a plan to destroy the world. With little effort to save it, which lost me because wasn’t that the premise of his whole creation? Whatever. I don’t know, he wasn’t a complicated villain (despite trying to be), and I wanted him to be more. To come up with a bigger idea than creating a robot’s robot and dropping a giant rock on the planet, that’s not too much to ask right?
Another fallback was the scope of this movie. It is of course the middle child, and as such is forced to grapple with both events proceeding and events to come. But, it also introduced a new cast of characters, giving a first look into the ever-expanding universe Marvel has in mind. A lot needed to happen and and with more movies, more story is woven together. and for the first time I worry about Marvel sagging under its own weight.
Hawkeye is the heart of the team, right?
I have grown attached to this original cast of characters and this movie did a wonderful job continuing to delve into their characters. Yes, this movie had its flaws in the big picture, but at the micro level it once again thrived. We continued to learn more about our heroes, which is saying something considering for some of them this is our 4th or 5th outing with them. We continue to be introduced to their lives and therefore their humanity.
Hawkeye was brought to the forefront this time, and it was wonderful. Being largely a plot device in the first Avengers movie he was the biggest mystery of the group. We learned a lot about him, he was given arguably the best line in the move at the end to Scarlet Witch, and most importantly he showed us his heart. That the movie chose to let a weaker villain reign in order to allow time for some minor character development matters.
We had another movie of our team of heroes fighting together, working together and talking to each other around the table. What more could I ask for?
Age of Ultron took a darker step forward, while continuing to maintain the lightness and ‘real’ dialogue that I loved so much about the first movie. The action scenes were awesome and seeing the team work together for each other and with each other made for a fun ride.
Bottomline: It’s one of those you should probably go see. It’s fun, exciting, real and just plain entertaining. But, we’re also entering a Marvel Universe where previous movies will need to be watched and storylines will jump from movie to movie (even more than they are now) and I don’t know if I’m about that life.
Also, where is Hawkeye’s movie and Black Widow’s for that matter? That’s something that needs to happen.
What were your thoughts on Age of Ultron? Loved It? Hated It? Somewhere inbetween?