Allow me to immediately address the one question that pretty much everyone has about Avengers: Age of Ultron. Is it better than The Avengers released in 2012? In my opinion, my answer is no. However, it's not dramatically inferior. It's only slightly so. The one part of this new Avengers movie that makes it as good as its predecessor is the climactic action scene. If you liked the final twenty or so minutes of The Avengers, you can look forward to an equally exciting twenty or so final minutes of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Other than that, the reason I can't rate this movie as highly as the first Avengers movie is the plot. It's there, but somewhat more simple than before.
Basically, The Avengers, including Iron Man, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow, and other characters, find themselves up against a powerful artificial intelligence. A sophisticated and self-aware computer program called Ultron becomes a growing threat when it builds itself from available parts and constructs an army of super robots. That's the premise of the story. It ends up being a fairly straightforward plot whereby Ultron goes from one robot planning mass destruction to a horde of robots ready to carry out that destruction. So there you have it: a simple plot accompanied by lots of intense action. For that, my rating for this movie is marginally positive.
So let me talk about why I'm not rating this movie any higher. For one thing, I was hoping for a more developed plot, with maybe a good twist or two along the way. Instead, the movie seemed to present segments of the plot just to have an excuse for the action scenes. Sure, some movies work just fine that way, but if movies based on comic books are increasingly gaining respect as films that have good stories, then I want a story that tries to go above and beyond average. As it stands, the plot of Avengers: Age of Ultron is just OK.
Aside from that, I felt that the movie attempted to do some interesting things, but couldn't settle on one thing to focus on. Plus, those scenes seemed to be a distraction from the plot rather than solidly connected to it. So let me clarify with a few examples. There's one scene that reveals a romantic attraction between Black Widow and one of the other characters, which could be interesting if it weren't presented so superficially. Another scene presents sharp disagreement among the Avengers during a critical moment, which seems somewhat surprising given that there wasn't as much strife earlier. Then there's a part where three characters are having visions, because of the mind-control ability of one villainous character. For me, I thought it detracted from the story instead of going with the story's flow, and much of it didn't seem necessary later on.
Overall, it's as if Avengers: Age of Ultron has the core formula of explosive action and a basic plot, then tried various ways to make it all more interesting without successfully doing so with any of those methods. On top of that, there are lots of characters to follow, perhaps a few too many. Is it a bad movie that one should skip? Not necessarily, because the action is still exciting. It's just simply a movie that has the potential to be above average, but ends up staying at the average level. The question now is how good the next Avengers movie will be compared to the two so far. We shall wait and see.
Anthony's Rating: 6/10
(Review originally published at http://www.anthonysfilmreview.com/Film/A/Avengers_Age_of_Ultron.htm)