I was one of the many that went to the Thursday screening of Avengers Age of Ultron. My theater was buzzing with excitement and anticipation as me and the audience all awaited to first image of this highly anticipated movie. Finally, when it actually started everyone cheered and immediately went silent. From that beginning of the movie to the end of the mid-credits scene, it was a high intensity roller coaster ride of action, comedy, and despair. That last part is what I believe helped differentiate this Avengers from the first which is crucial. As a studio, you don't want to make your sequels feel like the same movie, and they definitely succeeded. As for the action, it was more intense and much broader in scope. Everyone got their due and everyone was able to shine. The choreography for each character felt like it fit very well. Then, the comedy. Wow. Going in to this movie, I'd heard from many sources like AMC Movie Talk, Schmoes Know, Variety, and Rotten Tomatoes that this movie was significantly darker than the first, so I was a bit skeptical about the presence of comedy in this film. However, it was so well done and appropriate that it is actually my second favorite Marvel movie in terms of the comedy and level of fun (Guardians of the Galaxy is number 1). From Ultron, to Vision, to Hawkeye, to Nick Fury, everyone had their due. They all got to say something quirky and funny. These three aspects made it a phenomenal Marvel movie, worthy of the mantle of an Avengers movie. So, let's address some of the strongest points in the movie.
1. The Vision
He was so much more than I could have expected. He lived up to the Vision in the comics, but surpassed the potential I thought he had for the big screen. His birth was handled very well with the team fighting over whether or not they should finish the creation process. Once he was born, it was nice to see a character that surpassed Thor's strength, Tony's wit, and Cap's wisdom. Although, just born, he was already so much more than any one of them could hope to be. I'm excited to see a character that can challenge the big three on the things they hold dearest. His action was also so incredible and fluid. It didn't seem to campy or not as grounded as the other characters. He is basically a god, but is so human all at the same time. That is something extremely hard to achieve, so bravo to Joss Whedon and the writers.
He is finally given his due in this movie, and it is better than great. We find out he has a family that he keeps secret to protect them as well as be able to visit them without suspicion. His role is so important to keeping the team together. He is the backbone for the whole team and keeps them all in the game when it looks like they are all but defeated. Hawkeye shows so much humanity in this film, something that was unfortunately taken from him in the first one, and it really keeps the idea of ground level victims fresh in your mind. Often with these big superhero films, we can forget that their are people on the ground that need hands on saving, and Hawkeye keeps us very much involved emotionally with that battle and struggle to save every person.
3. The Twins
The twins were handled very well as well. I was a tad skeptical about seeing their types of powers being displayed against the powers we already see our team have. However, Scarlet Witch's telekinesis was very appropriately represented without being to hard to follow. And Quicksilver's speed was shown in slow-mo as well as in conjunction with regular speed action. It was a great dichotomy between representations of one power. It really highlighted how great his abilities are. They also blended very well with the team as well as against them. They were tragic, but still had a nice rise to becoming heroes.
4. Team Tension/Dynamic
It was awesome seeing how the team functions now that they've been working together for some time now. The members actually have background to pull from and past experiences together that allow for some great rapport. The trinity of Thor, Iron Man, and Cap have some great lines together and a lot of tension. They are the best of friends and the worst of friends throughout the movie. The creation of Ultron, the loss of Loki's staff, and the creation of Vision allow for all three to have differing opinions and literally fight each other over who is right. This sets up Civil War up very well as well as Infinity War.
Most will agree that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is lacking villains that we care about. The game has officially changed with Ultron. He was conniving, menacing, brilliant, and funny. He was tragic, idealistic, and fanatical. He has all of the qualities one would hope to see in just a dynamic character, let alone a villain. What really lent to the character was James Spader's genius voice work and Tony Stark's personality qualities. The marrying of these two aspects are what helped make it easier to create a villain that could challenge the team in a way we've never seen before. It brought something new to the table with all the flavor of a classic villain hellbent on world destruction. I hope that this isn't the actual last of Ultron we see.
What Didn't Work?
1. The Cut
When watching this movie, there are certain scenes where it is too obvious that the scene was cut shorter for the sake of time. Many movies do this, but unfortunately some of these scenes seem to stick out. For instance, Thor's re-entrance into his dream sequence was obviously cut down and reworked to fit the time of the movie. It was very interesting and I wish we were able to see more of this side storyline, but I understand why it was shaved off. I just wish it wasn't so obvious. Also, while the team is at Hawkeye's house it seems like there was more going on with the characters, but that too was cut down for the sake of overall time. For a moment in the movie that is supposed to be a rest from the action, it seemed to still move very fast.
2. The Accents
I know that they wanted their Quicksilver to stand out and be different from Fox's Quicksilver, but did they really need him and Wanda to be Eastern European? Both Fox and Marvel must take large liberties with the character because neither can use him or her to their full advantage, but it seems like an unnecessary addition to the movie to have two talented actors do horrible accents for characters that didn't need to be from that part of the world. Marvel just seemed to reach too far with their wanting to make the characters different, and in doing so, almost took me out of the movie every time one of these actors spoke. It's so unfortunate because both are extremely good actors and had some very good lines, but when spoken in that accent it just comes off as campy and amateur.
3. Joss vs. Marvel
This wasn't as apparent at first, but after seeing it several times now, it is clear that Joss Whedon had a very different vision in his mind that didn't make it to the big screen. Now, I know that the studio and producers should have a lot of say in what makes it into the final cut, however, Joss knows these characters so well and has proven himself worthy of guiding the team through universe changing events. It seems like Marvel perhaps should have listened to him a bit more. Also, Joss in recent interviews seems to be a bit bitter when talking about Marvel and the process of getting this film done. However, this is a minor complaint, that again, is not that apparent.
4. Ultron's Evolution
Even though the pace was extremely fast, it was still too jarring to see Ultron transform from a broken piece of scrap metal to a fully formed sentient robot. It was literally from one scene to the next. Then after the second battle he and the Avengers have, he already has his Vibranium body. It just seemed too fast, and like his struggle for evolution wasn't fleshed out as much as it could have been.
5. Where We Are Left
Once Ultron is destroyed the movie ends in like 5 minutes. It was not long enough for us to breathe and calm down like the team apparently had. Also, I'm fine with a new team of Avengers forming, but it didn't seem like a good spot to end to prepare us for Ant-Man, Civil-War, or any other upcoming Marvel film. Now, I know that they should focus on making a movie good by itself first, before they try to set up other films, but I feel like Marvel has set a standard of universe building and easter-egg hunting that they just didn't live up to in this film. It's not a big criticism, but it's one that has left me feeling a bit curious. After several viewings already, I can honestly say there are not very many easter-eggs to be found and roads left untraveled allowing us to wonder what is to come.
Should You See It?
OF COURSE! You'd be dumb not to go see it. To be honest, it was hard to find things in this movie that were negative. I really had to try and nit pick just to find the few that I did find, however this movie is overwhelmingly awesome and spectacular. It has everything we've come to expect out of an Avengers' movie and improved in the areas that felt a little less than great in the first movie. We got to see our team grow and intensify emotionally not only with each other but with themselves as well. This is a blockbuster in it's truest form. It keeps you engaged, enthralled, and excited throughout the entire movie. It's satisfying on almost every level and a job well done by Joss Whedon and Marvel.