Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron
The new Avengers movie has arrived, with a darker theme, more characters, a torn up team and a villain unlike any seen in a Marvel movie. The Age of Ultron was short-lived, but it was as disastrous for the team, as Winter Solider was for S.H.I.E.L.D. Avengers: Age of Ultron continues the story of the first movie, but with an already established and functioning Avengers team. With more colors, more battles, more drama and backstories and even new roads to explore, Avengers: Age of Ultron outpasses its predecessor and puts the Avengers on an even greater mission than before.
There are no strings on me
With S.H.I.E.L.D. gone in the last Captain America movie, it is now up to the Avengers to search and destroy the HYDRA bases hidden around the world. The last one though, leaves them with a remarkable discovery. Baron von Strucker has created enhanced humans and has been experimenting with Loki’s scepter. Discovering that the scepter contains some kind of artificial intelligence, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner decide to try to use it to create the perfect peacekeeping program, that will enable the Avengers to retire. And so, Ultron is born, but his solution to global peace includes humanity’s extermination and the destruction of the Avengers. Also, the enhanced, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff join Ultron’s crusade and the Avengers must now face a threat unlike any other they’ve faced before.
If you step out that door, you’re an Avenger
There is no point in talking about most of the actors, really. 90% of them we already know from the previous movies and they continue to do their job, even be better at it. Every character has changed though and goes through even more changes in this movie. Tony Stark/ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is still thinking about the events in the Avengers and sees the greater threat, not the drug lords and the mad scientists, not the russians or the terrorists, but what comes from beyond. And so, he is more and more bent on finding a way to keep Earth safe, if possible without the aid of the Avengers. Captain America (Chris Evans) has also changed, with no more S.H.I.E.L.D. to rely on, he is giving all he has to the team, his faith, his life and his leadership. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has made Earth his home since the events of Thor: The Dark World so he is more protective of this world and also, it is nice to see his dynamic without his brother, Loki, in the same movie. Even though he can control the Hulk better, Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is still afraid to let the monster out and relies on Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to keep him in balance and calm him when there is a “code green”, all the while fighting with his feelings for her. Natasha on the other hand, is really sincere in her feelings and is ready to dive into this relationship, especially after confronting her past and realizing, though not a spy, but an Avenger now, she is still the killer born and raised to be. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is the big surprise, regarding the old team, in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He gets more screen time, more background story and plays a more vital role in the dynamic of the team (getting some cool lines too).
Every time someone tries to win a war before it starts, innocent people die
Now, let’s talk about the newcomers in this movie. Of course, there is Ultron (James Spader). Disregarding Loki, who had three movies to develop, Ultron is the best MCU villain so far. His motivations are better explained, his actions make more sense and he is a menace none of the Avengers faced before. Thanks to Spader‘s great voice, Ultron is as human as he is villanous, even though he is an A.I. He has a god complex, he is still young an learning, but has all of humanity’s knowledge at the tip of his fingers and has a hatred for his creator, Stark; he is basically Marvel’s version of Frankenstein. Now, about Vision, portrayed beautifully by Paul Bettany. I won’t go into details, because he is mysterious and his arrival plays an important part in the plot, but he is perfectly integrated in the team and the movie.
Moving on to the Maximoff twins. They were hinted in the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but the beginning of Age of Ultron further explains their involvement with HYDRA and shortly after, we learn why they side with Ultron against Tony Stark and the Avengers. Their superhero names are not used (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch), only hinted at, but the use of their real identities makes them more relatable. So, Pietro, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, is the big brother, but he is not the “brains” of the team and is more bent on revenge than his sister. Wanda on the other hand, is not only powerful enough to break the Avengers, but also smart and can anticipate her enemies actions by playing on their emotions. Elizabeth Olsen gives one of , if not the, most powerful performance of her career in this role. She doesn’t have many lines, but she doesn’t need them. With only her eyes, her facial expressions and her hands (just look at how her fingers move and twitch when she uses her powers) she delivers not just a very emotion-based performance, but also a very sensual one. I dare say, she outruns Scarlett as the hottest and most sensual girl in the Avengers franchise (also she dethrones Daenerys Targaryen in my personal top).
It’s the end, the end of the path I started us on
The story is not without flaws and sometimes jumps too fast from one point to another, but you can understand the flow of the story. The best part of the script is that each character gets enough screen time, none being forced in the front. The CGI effects of this movie are top-notch and the design of the heroes, costumes, villains and weapons are breathtaking. Also, the addition of fusions, as they are called, is very well done. Fusions happen when the heroes use their powers together (like Thor banging his hammer on Captain’s shield, creating a blast wave and so on).
As I said in the beginning, Avengers: Age of Ultron has a much more darker theme than the previous movie. The influence of Winter Soldier on the production of Marvel movies can be seen here. This change in the tome can also be explained by the fact that the MCU will soon enter it’s third phase, culminating with Infinity War, where Thanos will bring the biggest threat ever known to this world, so they are trying to build up this threat (binding some concepts seen in the other movies and introducing the big threat to the team). Through Wanda Maximoff and her mind-influencing powers, this movie also brings an element of horror and plays with the psychology of the heroes, with their memories, their fears and their emotions. The music is also a lot darker than before. Bryan Tyler and Danny Elfman create a soundtrack that helps maintain the dark tone of the story. There are jokes, even some words you would not expect in this kind of movie, but they are better used, as part of the team dynamics or the confrontation with the villain, not just as moments for the audience to laugh. Also, this time, they had the courage to do something never done before in the MCU (I’ll let you figure that one for yourself). Another good point in it’s favor, is the fact that Age of Ultron brings together not only the Avengers, but also many other secondary characters from the solo movies and they integrate them with logic and fun. Trying to make a darker movie in a franchise that is usually funny and more comic in style, has it’s downsides. Altough Ultron is a very menacing villain, he is not always as villainous as he could be and the threat he represents has a very good start, but ends up being a classic “I’m gonna destroy/ conquer the world” story.
In the end, Avengers: Age of Ultron is one of the best superhero movie to date and I give it a 9. Go see this movie, now! Also, wait 1-2 minutes after the credits start rolling, there is a short scene any MCU fan will enjoy.