There was a time that comic-book movies were few and far between, and rarer still was one which was actually good. Fanboys the world over could only dream about seeing the panelled exploits of their heroes translated onto the big screen. But then, beginning with Iron Man, Marvel started their onslaught to take over Hollywood. One by one audiences were treated to amazing stories of men in armoured suits, super soldiers, thunder gods and green giants with anger issues. They showed that not only could these movies be action packed but they could actually have decent storylines and make us care for the characters too.
So it is understandable that, with superhero movies now becoming the norm, Joss Whedon would have felt enormous pressure to make the Avengers sequel bigger, louder and more action packed in order to stand out from the other Marvel fare. In its opening act, Age of Ultron sees the Avengers assembled and kicking butt against the forces of Baron von Strucker, trying to capture Loki’s sceptre from the HYDRA leader. It is during this sequence we are also introduced to the new characters of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. There are explosions and special effects galore in this, the first of many action set-pieces in the movie.
The aftermath of the fight has Tony Stark questioning the fallibility of the Avengers and embarks on inventing Artificial Intelligence that eventually gives birth to Ultron, the Avengers’ main nemesis in the film. Unfortunately Stark keeps his pet project a secret from the rest of the team until it went haywire, and this creates a sense of distrust amongst the whole group. Also thrown in for good measure is the “complicated” relationship that is the burgeoning romance between Bruce Banner and Black Widow.
The movie itself is perfectly fine, with great action set pieces as mentioned before. The problem comes from the fact that it’s almost a case of same old, same old. We have seen this all before in countless other movies. Even the awe factor that was felt when the Avengers first assembled is gone from this film. That coupled with the fact that there are obvious plot-lines that have been added to the story in order to service future movies, along with a whole slew of new characters, kind of makes the whole experience a little disjointed without much real attachment to anything that’s going on.
That is not to say that the movie isn’t worth watching. James Spader was born to play Ultron. His sarcastic, almost condescending demeanour, mixed with a childlike naiveté suited the role to a tee. Another plus for the movie was the trademark Whedon humour. No matter how dark the material got, there was always a witty one-liner that got the audience laughing, with quite a few jokes coming from Ultron himself.
The CG effects were a bit of hit and miss, which was puzzling. The opening sequence featured some very sub-par special effects, but they improved as the film progressed. However I found myself pulled out of the story on a few occasions when I could easily recognise a stunt double or easily see when a green screen was used.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is not a bad movie. It’s just that I expected something more. Ultron is still worth watching at the movies, if just for the action sequences, but unlike last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, this won’t make you want to go back for more.
I give Avengers: Age of Ultron a 7 out of 10.