Avengers: Age of Ultron was an action packed, energetic mess with an underdeveloped plot and coincidental plot points that made the film feel rushed and underwhelming. Don't get me wrong, there is still some fun to be had, but I was left hoping for more.
The story revolves around Tony Stark and Bruce Banner creating artificial intelligence, aka Ultron, and then The Avengers trying stop their creation as he goes on his own mission to completely wipe out humanity. That is a simplistic plot synopsis, but it's all you need to know. And our first and main issue with the film comes in at the creation of Ultron, and his arc in general.
Ultron, as a villain, was menacing and intimidating. However, there was no character development with him and he was who he was. In fact, I hate to say this, but Ultron simply felt like a plot point to set up the rift between the team that will eventually set up Civil War, rather than a necessary ingredient to this film. When he is born, instead of him developing into the cynical being that simply wants to destroy the world because that's the only way to peace (generic, I know), he was born that way and there was nowhere left to take the character. It was disappointing, to say the least, and it looks like Marvel's failures when it comes to their villains continues in this film. Ultron could have been so much more, but in the end, he simply felt inconsequential.
The plot as a whole felt simple, yet was convoluted by aspects of the film that felt inconsequential and meaningless, making us wonder why this film was made in the first place. Whedon's job was to set up what is to come down the road in future films, and in that he succeeded, but that success cost him the ability to tell a concise, well rounded story in Age of Ultron. Shades of Iron Man 2 were present, where it felt like they were trying to set up the future without worrying too much about the film they were making, and Age of Ultron suffered for it. Of course this is a better film than Iron Man 2, but what isn't? In the end, this felt like too much attention was paid to setting up the future of the MCU, and not enough care was put in to crafting a good, well rounded story.
Now that we got all of that out of the way, let's talk about some of the positives. First and for most, this film is chalk full of fantastically choreographed and executed action sequences that will leave your mouth watering for more. There is no portion of this film that drags or has us checking our watch, and it is mainly because we get to witness some of the best action sequences of the year.
In terms of the additions of Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and The Vision, they were handled masterfully, and quite honestly, ended up being the best parts and story arcs of the film. Joss Whedon did an excellent job at giving us the essentials of the characters and what we needed to know without making it feel forced and like bullet points on a powerpoint. We got an understanding of the relationship between the twins (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch) , and we understood why Vision was siding with The Avengers rather than becoming like Ultron. There were certain elements of The Twins' story arcs that felt rushed, which was inevitable in a movie that itself felt rushed, but overall, Joss Whedon did a great job with their characters.
Another character that Whedon helped develop even further was Hawkeye, and his character arc was one of the most interesting and resonant aspects of the film. In the first Avengers, Hawkeye was basically a mindless robot at the hands of Loki, but in Age of Ultron he was given a great amount of depth and enough of a back story to make us, as the audience, feel and care about this character.
Also, the simple moments between the team and the banter they have with each other feels natural and authentic (for the most part), and those were some of the best aspects of the film. As a viewer, we almost wish Whedon slowed down, just for a second, to give us more of these quieter moments between the team. In fact, we do wish he slowed down. It might have made the film feel more authentic rather than a contrived set up for future installments.
With all of that being said, and even though Whedon did a great job with the new additions (and Hawkeye), he struggled a bit with what to do with other characters, specifically Black Widow and Hulk. Their characters, as individuals, were good and did what they were supposed to do to further the story, but the love story that was being set up did not work. And yes, as you may have been able to tell from the trailers, there is a romantic connection being teased and set up between Natasha and Bruce, and it was handled quite poorly, if I'm being honest with you.
The relationship felt like it belonged on a CW show rather than a big budget superhero movie. It was too lovey-dovey and felt forced and out of place. I found myself rolling my eyes and cringing every time they were on screen together trying to force this relationship down our throats. The relationship as a whole did have a purpose within the context of the film, but it was poorly executed and I simply did not care.
Overall, the film felt convoluted and messy, but was still interjected with fun and humor while delivering some breath taking action sequences. It was an underwhelming experience, but still fun nonetheless.
Now, there are certain coincidences and issues within the plot that I cannot go into without spoiling the film, so just know that the next part of this review will contain SPOILERS!
Now that you've been warned, let's get into some of the bigger issues with the plot and character development.
To start off, certain elements of the film simply felt extremely convenient to the point where it made me question the film as a whole. For instance, there is a scene right before the giant climactic battle, where Bruce shows up to get Black Widow out of some prison in Ultron's bunker, and he simply walked in with a random gun and broke her out. He didn't defeat any guards on his way in or anything, he simply walked in, shot the bars on her cell and broke her out. It seemed way too easy and convenient. Not only that, but Natasha and Bruce were doing their lovey-dovey thing the entire time to the point where I thought Natasha was either hallucinating or dreaming. Everything in that scene felt way too perfect and it felt like Whedon simply needed Natasha out of prison now so he simply sent Bruce in to get her. In fact, Natasha getting caught by Ultron seemed pointless and didn't add anything to the the story as a whole. It was simply something that happened.
Another convenient plot point was the perspective of the twins, and who they were fighting for. We get insight into their characters and learn that it was one of Stark's company's weapons that killed their parents which is why, to start off the film, they are against The Avengers. However, about mid way through they learn that Ultron's goal is to wipe out humanity, so they turn sides and join The Avengers. It was so sudden and abrupt, and it would have been better if we never learned about how their parents were killed because it did not come into play later. I understand that they needed to join The Avengers to stop Ultron, but even after Ultron is defeated we never get that confrontation between Stark and Scarlet Witch. She simply shows up as a new Avenger, when just last week she hated Stark for being responsible for killing her parents. Whedon again took the easy way out, and instead of having this conflict play out, he simply avoided it all together and made Scarlet Witch an Avenger.
Another issue I had with the film, and this is more of a personal issue and quite small, but I wish they did not kill Quicksilver. Of course this is the MCU, and I don't expect him to stay dead, but Whedon did a great job at setting up his character and I was looking forward to what they could do with him in future installments of the universe.
Again, this film had its moments and was entertaining, but also was full of issues and plot conveniences that did not work. Whedon, along with Marvel Studios, simply tried to do too much and were focusing on the future of the universe, and in doing so, they missed an opportunity to give us a great film. It had its moments, but in the end, it felt underwhelming and inconsequential.