Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron Review
The saying goes that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and it’s a lesson well-learned by the Avengers in their latest cinematic outing, Age Of Ultron. Thanks to Tony Stark’s obsessive quest for “peace in our time” and Bruce Banners willingness to be similarly seduced, they create one of the most terrifying villains imaginable; a virtually indestructible AI consciousness bent on destroying the human race.
It’s a storyline we’ve seen before in film such as The Terminator and I, Robot. Humans cleverly create artificial intelligence and then put it in charge of everything with express instructions to protect mankind at all costs. Then everyone stares at each other in surprise when Skynet/the robots/Ultron realise the only way to stop us from killing each other and our planet is to take charge.
It was perhaps an obvious choice for director, Joss Whedon who relishes telling stories of humans rising above their mistakes, and it’s one that fits well with the good-intentioned but ultimately flawed Avengers. The ‘Buffy’ creator’s second Avengers outing since impressing with the first film sees him stick to Marvel’s success-making design for another guaranteed hit.
With so many main characters in one film it’s clear that focus has to be more on some than others and thankfully the sequel opts for the characters that don’t currently have their own ongoing films. While Captain America, Thor and especially Iron Man are all integral parts of Age Of Ultron, their personal storylines take a back seat to allow the rest of the team to step into the spotlight.
Hawkeye’s character development continues nicely, building on the foundations that were laid in the previous film. Through him we get a sneak peek at what it’s like to live as one of the more human superheroes in a way, which doesn’t feel forced or out of place. The blossoming romance between Black Widow and the Hulk might seem bizarre on paper but once Natasha explains it to Bruce, you’ll also realise they’re the perfect match for each other.
Scarlet Witch’s ‘magic’ allows for previously undiscovered insights into the Avengers past and current motivations, as Iron Man battles with his darkest fear and Black Widow relives her unconventional upbringing. Both have consequences which directly affect the story, making a nice change from films, which usually treat character’s backstory as little more than plot-fodder.
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson all return to their roles with an enthusiasm, which is impressive given how many outings they’ve all had, but it’s the newbies we’re really interested it.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen reunite after their Godzilla pairing to become the Maximoff twins (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) and pull off marginally questionable Russian accents to give compelling performances. They’re given enough screen time to both establish a back story and develop as characters so, audiences are able to form a connection with them despite the multitude of other distractions.
Marvel regulars Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, and more all join the party at different points (no Gwyneth Paltrow or Natalie Portman) but it’s James Spader who’s the real star of the show. Giving a creepily charismatic yet terrifying performance of villain, Ultron without ever appearing on screen, you might think a robot would make for a predictable and boring bad guy but you’re wrong.
Finally, Paul Bettany gets a chance to step in front of the camera, after playing Tony Stark’s long-suffering assistant Javis, to become the face of Vision. Fans may be split on the appearance of this character but we won’t spoil it for you. Suffice to say the London-born thespian proves his acting chops once again in this latest role.
While Age Of Ultron delivers on the action-packed sequences of the original (if not more) it’s also incredibly funny considering the dark material. Fans will find themselves revelling in both the deep moments where the Avengers are questioning themselves and each other, as well as the party times which involve a lot of jokes about Thor’s hammer.
There’s not much mention of the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D, which we witnessed in Captain America: The Winter Solider, but this could be from a lack of desire to step on the toes of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. However, the Avengers and their friends prove that they don’t need a government organisation to do what’s right, as they unite in true Whedon-style to face the threat to humanity together.
Age Of Ultron continues Marvel’s extremely successful run of films with a sequel that steps up its game in terms of mind-blowing action sequences, interesting character development and the morality of achieving peace through war. If you’re looking for something different from the first film, you need another franchise, but if you loved everything about The Avengers and want more of the same then Age Of Ultron will absolutely deliver on that promise.