ByJon Negroni, writer at
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Jon Negroni

Both criticizing and praising Marvel's latest ensemble film is a unique challenge.

It's like critiquing a story ripped from a comic book. How can you judge its relevance and quality without immediately comparing it to its overall anthology? For that reason, [The Avengers: Age Of Ultron](tag:293035) will have trouble finding a consensus amongst critics. No one agrees on what to make of it.

I'm a Marvel apologist, but even my opinion is a bit varied. While Age of Ultron builds a lot on the successful formula Marvel movies are currently also just builds on the successful formula Marvel movies are currently enjoying.

Thor and Cap encounter Ultron in the first act
Thor and Cap encounter Ultron in the first act

It doesn't redefine the genre as the The Avengers did. For many, this isn't a deal breaker. But for those of us who watch these movies on repeat, it's a bit tiresome.

Put simply, I'd be less distracted by the wham-bam of Age of Ultron if it were streamlined from both a time and narrative standpoint.

Part of what made the first Avengers such a satisfying film was that it paid off several movies of buildup. Age of Ultron doesn't enjoy the same advantage. The villain is born in the first act, unlike how Thor's Loki was gradually introduced during the first phase of movies.

True, Age of Ultron sort of continues the threads loosened by Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a way to make the main plot more interesting (and explain the Hydra-related origins of new "enhanced" characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch). Age of Ultron also borrows from the superb action choreography and set piece moments that Winter Soldier essentially mastered for comic-book films.

But, and this is a big but, Age of Ultron ultimately suffers from an overload of things we wanted. Its narrative and flow are virtually identical to the first Avengers; there's just more of it.

Too many climaxes, city-destroying battles, and Hulk rage-outs dilutes what could have been a more impactful film. That's not an issue with the acting, special effects, or direction. That's an editing problem.

That's where my criticisms more-or-less end, however. Even if you're not craving pizza, Age of Ultron has the best pizza ingredients. The budget was well-spent on great writing, beautiful sets, and top-notch special effects we're starting to take for granted. For a movie with too many good ideas, it has a lot of good ideas.

I didn't find it as dark as the trailer seemed to promise. The film doesn't have that sense of dread and tension I expected because, well, Marvel has already given us the release schedule over the next decade. We know this isn't a world-ending situation, truly, so the movie becomes one long wait for the Avengers to achieve their goals.

Don't get me wrong. That's not a bad thing because as I mentioned before: Age of Ultron is an anthology. It's the most "comic-book" movie I have ever seen, and the novelty for that alone is worth the watch. There were several scenes I started to reimagine as ink on pages, and that's no small feat.

The best thing about Age of Ultron is the fact that it feels like a crucial part of a bigger story. It's a must-watch summer movie for that reason alone, and the extra good stuff is just frosting. Even though it's not the world-changing movie I wanted it to be, it's still a great Marvel movie.

I'm going to give Avengers: Age of Ultron an A-

It's a well-made movie that could have used more consolidation and a less-familiar villain/plot. Ultimately, though, it's the sequel fans asked for.

Bullet Points

  • Yes, it's funny.
  • Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch do a fine job making sense within this movie and the larger Marvel universe, even if their character motivations are a bit eye-rolling. And it should be said that Marvel did a fine job topping the Quicksilver displayed by Fox last year.
  • I might be in the minority here, but the Hulk/Black widow romance scenes just didn't do it for me. In theory, it's a great idea to give these characters time together, but it felt clunky at best.
  • It was great to see more time given to Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye/Barton. Some of the best lines (both comedically and dramatically) in the movie came from him.
  • My favorite scene, by far, was the Hulkbuster vs. Hulk fight. Even better than what's portrayed in the trailer.
  • These movies always tend to monopolize Tony Stark, but even though he's the main thrust of this movie's plot, they did a great job keeping his onscreen time in check to save room for other characters.
  • Captain America is still my favorite Avenger, by far, and the most interesting in my opinion. As Tony Stark himself says, I don't trust anyone without a dark side.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is set to release in the US, May 1.


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