Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.
After three years - and a multitude of standalone films - the Avengers finally suit-up and reassemble, once again making their triumphant return
to the big screen under the direction of Joss Whedon. So why am I, after watching the film in itís entirety, sitting here writing this, - in front of a blank
screen - contemplating on what could've been and instead disappointed at what the reality Avengers: Age of Ultron actually offers.
Our film opens with the team back in full swing, taking out Hydra soldiers like only they know best - loud and in style.
This particular base is different than your usual Marvel Agentís of S.H.I.E.L.D. fare mind you, because itís the headquarters of the infamous
Baron Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann). A regular in the Marvel villain universe and last teased in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Itís here we also get our return glimpse of twin-siblings Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) -
referred to as Ďenhanced humansí - trying to put on their best russian accents, along with the eventual goal of this particular Avenger mission -
retrieving the staff of Loki.
Itís what we have come to expect with Marvel opening acts, strutting their CG stuff. More unusual though is we never receive an explanation of
how Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) traverses from the end of Iron Man 3 after destroying his suits, to now back where he started, albeit with an
even further improved upon Avengers tower. Itís here though that the team gather for an impromptu celebration to culminate the successful retrieval
of that last thorn in their side, whilst Tony Stark uncovers the staffís hidden secrets, in the hopes of creating artificial intelligence that can
police the globe - leaving them out of a job of course - nothing can go wrong there Iím sure! But itís in these small dialog moments between the
team members that the spirit of these movies shine, the comradery and one-liners ricochet around the room and are sure to keep a cheesy grin
plastered on your face throughout.
That celebration is cut short however, in the span of about two minutes and quicker than you can utter the words Skynet, the artificial intelligence
dubbed Ultron (James Spader) has been conceived via an Infinity Stone laden within the staff, has already landed on human extinction as the only
viable solution of the future and jumped to the task of fighting the Avengers. The problem is not only in the absurdity of how rushed Ultron as a
villain is, but of his comical nature itself, so much so, that not even Ultron can take himself seriously, trying to up the comic-relief by spouting
one-liners when possible.
The whole thing feels ill conceived and not at all the menacing A.I. villain we have come to expect or was promised within
trailers. Itís a shame too as James Spader who voices our robotic joke machine has quite the distinct and well placed voice for Ultron. But alas the
setup for the film has now been created, Ultron is loose and itís time for the Avengers to team up once again to stop this new threat (or lack thereof).
But itís from here the film continues its nosedive, feeling closer to an episode of Marvel Agentís Of S.H.I.E.L.D. than the ultimate comic-book
event film we have been accustomed to, the whole film lacks both weight & focus. And this is ultimately summed up with Ultronsí master plan, that
he has seemingly borrowed from Magneto in X-Men: The Last Stand (flying bridges anyone?) and that lack of threat Ultron provides, asks whether are all
the Avengers even necessary in this movie.
But that is not to say poor decisions werenít made prior to this, for the past three years in each Marvel
iteration small tidbits had been teased, cohesing together to form into this larger whole. Those setups feel wasted, as major reveal plotlines from prior
films, become nothing but footnotes to gloss over, hinting at a better film down the line. And I think that is the biggest problem with
Avengers: Age of Ultron, the entire film is a stop-gap to the real Avengers film involving Thanos in 2018.
That isnít to say the film doesnít do some things well. Finally we get to see more of Hawkeye aka Clint Barton played by Jeremy Renner,
a criminally underused staple in the previous Avengers film, now getís more screen time and fleshed out story than ever. And it works, it works great in
fact - the added weight of knowing what is on the line for him, makes us care for his character more than we ever have previously.
Other characterís donít fare quite as well however, the brief twenty second
backstory of the Maximoff twins feels more of a forced Ďwe better explain why weíre the bad guysí squabble than anything substantial adding to the plot.
And why Marvel, knowing Quicksilver was already showcased (and in much better fashion mind you) in the latest X-Men film, decided to go with these two
characters - not even utilizing their unique family history - when they have a whole universe of characters to pick from is a puzzling decision in itself.
We also get an introduction of a new well-known character to the Avengers
universe, that the keen-eyed observer will of noticed in the trailer. Similarly this characterís origin is also just glossed over which is a shame
because in a film where you feel the length beginning to drag, itís a tragedy they donít spend more time delving into important plot points and less on
The rest of the team are where we left them, and not much has changed aside from an on-again, off-again relationship between Bruce Banner aka
the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). In some scenes it feels like a budding romance whilst in others the end
of something that has been going on for a while, I have to think a lot was left on the cutting-room floor to better explain this forced pairing
seemingly out of nowhere.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth) meanwhile is busy setting up his own sequel Ragnarok, and is used sparingly outside of battle scenes,
Captain America (Chris Evans) meanwhile is in flux with no journey to speak of, once again awaiting his next instalment Civil War. Outside of a more
fleshed-out backstory from Hawkeye and the romantic arc between Hulk and Black Widow there is very little laid onto that already established
foundation from the first. It feels very much like the characters donít go anywhere, which may be on purpose, to better facilitate their own future films
without bringing along baggage.
The action though, is back in full force. Quick cuts and CGI are in abundance making some scenes hard to follow, but a particular battle between
Iron Man and the Hulk will keep you glued to the edge of your seat for a short period, but it will be practically the only action-scene that will stick out in your
mind. Basically because it involves characters we are invested in, the rest is mindless, with an abundance of robots thrown on the screen one after the other en masse,
hoping sheer numbers will make up for how empty it all feels.
Itís a shame when compared to all those culmative lifetimes of work that went into creating this CG spectacle, that a little more attention was just not also invested on the plot. With the introduction of three new characters, and cameoís from a range of sidekicks less is not necessarily more.
So here we are, once again. On the waiting list for another three long years for the next Avengers, the real Avengers, the one that they have
promised. Unfortunately Avengers: Age of Ultron is nothing more than a stepping stone to something better.
Which is a giant shame and a step back from recent Marvel outings Guardians Of The Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier which
showcased how to create that perfect blend of story and effects that result in an epic blockbuster. Avengers: Age of Ultron is definitely
not a must-watch by any means, but Marvel fans who are invested in the universe will want to watch just to see how loose ends tie up and the creation
of new oneís for the next wave of Marvel films - just temper your expectations.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently available to buy on Blu-ray & DVD or on-demand via Amazon Video.
24th April 2015
- 3 Out of 5 Stars
A step back
Hulk vs Iron Man
Chemistry & Humour