Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

More robots?

Since their big battle in New York City, the Avengers crew has been up to a lot; although, more often than not, they’re separated from one another, left to fend for themselves. Now, many years after their last team-up, the gang is back together and, for the most part, everybody seems to be the same. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is still a snarky deuche; Captain America (Chris Evans) is still trying to keep everybody in line; the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is trying his hardest to control his temper and not lose all sense of control; Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is still kicking as much ass he possibly can; Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is doing the same as Thor, except with her sheer beauty; and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is, well, still there. However, now with a new threat on their hands, inadvertently courtesy of Banner and Stark, the gang has to fight even harder than ever before, especially since they’re going up against new foes like Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen), and perhaps more dangerous than they ever expected, Ultron (James Spader), a piece of artificial intelligence that nobody seems to be ready for.

"Quit crying, bro. We've got baddies to fight."
“Quit crying, bro. We’ve got baddies to brawl.”

The first Avengers was pretty much everything anybody who had been waiting four incredibly long years could have ever wanted. It was fun, hilarious, action-packed, and featured all sorts of fan boy moments that made not just the die hards happy and not taking their disapproval straight to the message boards, but also showed that, while this may have been the pinnacle of the Marvel franchise so far, it wouldn’t at all be the last outing. In fact, if there was anything at all spectacular about what Joss Whedon did with the first movie, was that he showed that there was plenty more life to be found inside of these characters, their stories, and what could come their way next.

And now, it’s time for the eventual sequel to that near-masterpiece of everything that’s right with superhero movies and there’s a slight feeling of disappointment. It’s not because Whedon messes up here and gets everything wrong; in fact, everything that Whedon does here, for the majority of it, is that he allows for the action to be as fun, as loud, and as energetic as possible, while also still allowing for us to see everything that’s happening where, when, and to whom. However, he never loses sight of what makes them kick so hard and as well as they do, and that’s the characters.

Yes, these are the same characters that we’ve spent so much time with already, but as you’ll see here, Whedon breaths some new life into them and allows us to see them in a light that we haven’t quite seen them in before: A vulnerable one.

See, what Whedon gets right here, as Guardians of the Galaxy showed us all last summer, is that these characters probably work best when they’re just hanging around with one another, shootin’ the shit, getting on each other’s cases, and overall, learning more than they ever thought they could. Because, as they’re getting to learn more about each other, we’re doing the same; which in and of itself, is not only interesting, but fun. We think we know these characters for all that they appear to be and then we see a certain conversation they have go a way they didn’t expect it to, and all of a sudden, something new is learned. There are many moments of that here and, due to reasons that can’t be disclosed, they feel more emotional and compelling, rather than just fine bits and pieces of filler.

Problem is, that once the filler comes around, it feels like it’s just around to take-up space.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not mad at a Marvel movie for offering all sorts of action it can come up with. However, I do get a tad bit ticked-off when it takes away from moments that could be spent, dedicated to more and more character development, where we feel like something is actually being accomplished, rather than just tacked-on so people don’t get bored quickly. Whedon does a fine job at putting in certain action sequences that go everywhere and anywhere that they want, with absolute reckless abandon and they’re fun to watch, it’s just that it sometimes feel like the wheels are spinning, but there’s nobody driving.

Things can blow up as much as they want, but when there’s general basis for them, then there’s a bit of a problem. Which, like I’ve said before, wouldn’t have been bad, had it been serviced by something of a plot that worked, or better yet, made some bit of sense. From what I can tell you, Ultron is bad and is capable of planting his subconscious into any robot-body it wants. This, for the most part, made sense to me, but then, for reasons I can’t understand as anything but “corporate excess”, Whedon throws a plethora of characters onto our plate where we’re wondering what they serve to the plot, what they’re all about, and whether or not they’re even worth our time.

Not saying that I have a problem adding in new characters, but when it eventually seems like too much, then you have the same sort of problem that a fellow superhero flick like Spider-Man 3 had. While that movie was definitely off a lot worse than this one, there’s something here that makes me think that all of the added-on characters and subplots, like some of the action, were all just filler; they weren’t to serve much of a purpose, other than to just distract the audience from what is a very confusing and nonsensical plot, and the fact that it could care less about developing the already-known characters a bit more.

"Me mad? But why? WAAH!"
“Me mad? But why? WAAH!”

This isn’t to say that the characters here don’t get some attention and care that they deserve. Above everyone else, Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner gets the most development of the pack, where we see him not only tangle with his possible emotions for the likes of Black Widow, but his actual emotions as well. There’s been a lot said about the Hulk character in the past where he seems like too much of a supporting character that, when he’s given his own, single-picture, it doesn’t quite work as well as the others. If that is the case, then Whedon has done a true service to this character where we get enough of him to sense the danger, the sadness, and the actual thrill within this character that people always want to see.

Everybody else that isn’t the Hulk, though, sort of get the short-end of the stick.

One of the more genius aspects surrounding the newly-recruited Scarlet Witch’s character is that she’s able to dig into anybody’s deepest, darkest and most painful secrets imaginable, and with that power, comes plenty of glimpses into some of these character’s heads that are not only disturbing, but pretty sad. For example, Cap’s and Thor’s memories are all about how they miss the people they let-down and left behind, whereas with Black Widow’s, we see her horribly violent up-bringing that makes you wonder just how far she’s willing to go with these missions, where she runs the risk of losing herself. These small glances are what help make these characters all the more compelling to watch and root for, however, there comes a point where it seems to just be used as a way to make us think that the odds are fully stacked-up against the Avengers’ crew.

And while that may most certainly be true with the likes of the absolutely dangerous and intimidating Ultron, the fast, furious and cocky Quicksilver, and the previously mentioned Scarlet Witch, it seems unneeded. It’s almost as if Whedon wanted to jump inside these character’s heads, and jump out as soon as quickly before the going got too heavy. This definitely puts it a step-up above most of the summer blockbusters that are constantly thrown at us left and right, however, it also feels like a teaser for something that’s deeper than what any of us expect.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but why the small hints, Joss? Give us it all!

Consensus: As far as superhero blockbusters go, Avengers: Age of Ultron is as action-packed, exciting and as fun as you’d expect it to be, however, some of it is starting to feel repetitive now, especially since there’s more to be unraveled about these characters and what we do get, works so damn well.

8 / 10

Basically a film adaptation of the Blacklist, but with no fedoras. Bummer.
Basically a film adaptation of the Blacklist, but with no fedoras. Bummer.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz


  1. Good review! I was pretty disappointed by this one. Thought it was overstuffed and really didn’t bring much to the table. Ultron seemed to come across as more of an afterthought than anything else to me, and I wasn’t a fan of the Banner-Natasha romance at all. I was happy Hawkeye got something to do, but I really didn’t like how Stark was handled.

    Oh well. On to the next one. It’ll be interesting to see how the Russo brothers handle it.

  2. Really good review. Haven’t seen it yet, but heading out to see it today … sounds like my expectations have been about right.

  3. Nice review. I was not in love with it. I thought too little character development. Some times the special effects were so special, I couldn’t tell what was happening. I like what they did with Hawkeye. I did not think it built enough towards the civil war ( that is coming). I thought Bucky would have returned. It was a B for me, too. And mostly because of the few moments of character development.

  4. I love how that final photo of Ultron looks a little bit like he is making a ‘jerk-off’ sign to the Avengers. Never gets old lol.

    • haha! that might be the best description i’ve read of it yet. its’ seriously a great shot.

  5. Good review. I’m actually NOT seeing it this weekend, though. I made a solemn vow to my little brother, a gung-ho Marvel fan, that I was going to wait until I came home from college to see it with him.

  6. Great write up! The Twins were actually my favorite part of the film. I find them fascinating, and I absolutely hate what Whedon did with Quicksilver at the end. I kind of hated the Natasha/Bruce romance, it just didn’t paint Nat in the most positive light.

    I still had a great time watching this, it’s been awhile since I went to a midnight movie.

  7. It was fine. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe I’d say it tops The Incredible Hulk (2008) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) but that’s about it.

  8. great review, man!

    seems like a lot of people are coming away disappointed with this one, but I loved it just as much as the first. sure, there could have been more in the way of story and character development, but I’m perfectly fine with some well-crafted action. I just wish this didn’t feel like such a stop gap before we get something bigger

  9. I feel your review gets to the heart of the matter. This is both a tough film to conceive and a tough film to review. Whedon is excellent at keeping this entertaining and avoiding Man of Steel level mindlessness, but it still feels less ambitious than it should be after 11 movies.

  10. Great review. I think the film was good but still quite disappointing.
    Not sure if it is in comparisons to their reason great films but it felt like a foot note rather than a solid film of its own.
    2 hour trailer for phase 3 is a bit harsh but not wholly untrue.

  11. Wow, a surprisingly negative-ish review of this one, Dan? I wouldn’t have though that! Yeah, it’s a tad repetitive from the first Avengers film, but it’s done with so much more energy and fun I found it a total blast!

  12. You say that it feels like it’s missing more of the personal, development moments, have you heard that Joss’s original cut was over 3 hours! I’m hoping the blu-ray gets a bunch of the scenes, if not a straight up director’s cut. Glad to see you enjoyed it though!

  13. I was pretty disappointed by this lumbering mess of a movie too. Such a mess after the grace of the first film. The problem here was that it didn’t feel like a conclusion of anything but a simple stepping stone to a movie only out in 2019.

  14. Hey Dan cool review man, while I agree with some of your points about the action, character development and filler, I do have to disagree with you about Hulk being the only one that gets character development. Surprised you left out Hawkeye though, his character got a considerable amount of screen time, development and had some of the best lines and overall was just a huge improvement over the last Avengers film.

  15. I agree with you a lot here. It just didn’t quite live up to the expectation of the first movie because the action was a bit generic. Hulk vs Hulkbuster was great but we already saw Thor beating on Hulk. Ultron gave us more generic, faceless villains to kill (just like the first movie). The best bits were the moments that were purely character driven and just saw the Avengers “hanging out.”

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