Movie Review with Jeff McCullough: Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

By Jeff McCullough on May 16, 2015 from Movie Review via

At one point in the new Avengers Ultron, the titular killer robot, quips “there are no strings on me.” Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the film he stars in, a superhero sequel so twisted in its own plot threads, they threaten to strangle the life out of it.
With a top billed cast of 17 actors, and a team roster of 11 different Avengers, Age of Ultron is packed, to say the least. Smartly, Age of Ultron uses its time to develop characters we haven’t seen so much. Iron Man has been in five movies prior to this film and has already received a strong amount of characterization. We are already familiar and comfortable with the character and know what to expect from him. The same goes for Captain America, Thor, and to a lesser extent Falcon and War Machine.
On the other hand, Hawkeye (despite being a founding Avenger) has consistently gotten the dull end of the arrow, only appearing in one film prior to Ultron, and being a mind-controlled zombie for half of that. Here though, while I won’t spoil the plot points, he finally gets some screen time showing him as a real value to the team, even throwing in a little self-referential humor about the absurdity of wielding a bow against robots with plasma cannons.
Unfortunately Hawkeye is the only returning character who gets meaningful advancement.  Bizarrely, Hulk and Black Widow get a love story of sorts, but one that reads more like fan fiction than an honest screenplay. There is some talk of how they are “monsters who found love,” but honestly, it comes out of nowhere, just another way of adding conflict to an overstuffed story. You’d think the army of evil robots flying around would be conflict enough, but there we lead to another problem.
As a villain, Ultron stinks.  What was supposed to be a terminator style robot, bent on killing all of humanity turns out to be the bad end of an unfunny joke. More of a slightly sassier Ironman than what’s supposed to be mankind’s destruction, Ultron just isn’t intimidating; cracking jokes is fine and dandy, but at the end of the day, a killer robot is supposed to be scary.
The two ways that the Avengers should have treated Ultron would have been to either make him an emotionless death machine, or a fully developed character, with complex motivations, characteristics and goals. Age tries for a mixture of both these ideas, but like the Hulk’s pants, their stretched to the edge of breaking.
Any film with such a large cast and a limited running time will have certain characters that get the short end of the stick, but considering the movie is called Age of Ultron, you’d think Ultron would get some more attention.
New characters getting little screen time seems to be a theme in Age of Ultron, with Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch played by Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, (who were married in last year’s Godzilla making their status as twins in this movie kind of ewww) getting the back end of things, too. Quicksilver gets all of three lines (probably a good thing given his silly Scandinavian accent), and while Scarlet Witch fares better, her grab-bag set of unexplained powers provide for more confusion than anything else.
But hey, none of these silly little things like quality acting or character development matter right? We’re just here to see the action, the Avengers whooping some robot butt ‘Merica style! Well, guess what? That’s a crap shoot as well.  
Other than a standout and exhilarating fight between Ironman’s “Hulk-Buster” armor and the green goliath himself, everything has a “been there done that” feel, probably because we all have been there and done that ten times before.
The final climatic battle with an army of Ultron clones feels exactly like the final climatic battle with the chitauri in the first Avengers, which feels like the battle with the Droid army in Ironman 2, which feels like the invasion of fire breathing mutant people in Ironman 3, and so on.
The crushing production rate Marvel movies are popped out at often requires big effects shots to be designed, and in some cases shot, before a script can even be written. As you can imagine, this hectic style doesn’t always lead to the best results, and in the case of the last several Marvel films, it leads to similar, overly bland, heavy endings.
So with the new characters duds, the so-so action (other than the Hulk-Buster fight; I can’t stress it enough, that scene is unreal), and the poorly plotted villain, is Age of Ultron worth seeing at all?
Well, ultimately that comes down to your own tastes, and how much cgi schmuck you can stomach, but there are parts of Ultron that for me, made it worth watching. Joss Whedon brings his trademark humor, even sharper than the first Avengers, and Hawkeye gets some real time to shine.
Personally, I’d much rather see a Hawkeye stand-alone film than one based on Ant-Man, but I digress.  But overall, Age of Ultron is a real dud, the first truly poor non-Thor in the Marvel Cinematic Universes canon, and a big disappointment. Marvel still has time to redeem itself, and with eleven more movies coming up before the end of the decade it’ll have plenty of chances. Here’s hoping they bring it up a notch.
2 out of 5

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