In Praise of the Avengers Age of Ultron
Whedon delivers respectable follow-up to the first film
The special effects are state of the art and so is the superhero dramatics. Bruce Banner and Black Widow strike up an interesting demi-romance, and Hawkeye is explored in a way that reveals his secret life of rural living and this intrigues Tony Stark and sends him into ruminations about the completely absent Pepper Potts and what kind of future they might have if he takes off the Iron-man suit.
Whedon is not exactly cutting a new slice of cake here, as sudden retreats into the country are standard thriller-movie (especially spy movie) fodder and a way to drop the tension, pull the hero out of the technological threats of the modern world so that it can be upped again shortly thereafter (there's also a kind of built-in love for the rural that haunts the audience group that encompasses much of the ticket-buying public).
This works perfectly well for Whedon's tale as does all the other plot machinery which seems to always keep the Avengers no more than a scant five minutes way from the next fight.
The fighting is inevitable because Ultron, a Tony Stark creation by way of Jarvis and a mothballed A.I. technology project, becomes a self-analyzing Frankenstein monster that can replicate himself and use internet networks to stay one step ahead of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
James Spader's Ultron isn't mindlessly bent upon standard super villain quest for destruction, but rather to fix all of earth's problems with a master-solution: destroy the people and force what's left to evolve into something worthy of approval (whether that means Ultron's approval or Disney/Marvel's is the unknown question).
Quick-paced and chock-full of the trademark Marvel wise-cracking, Whedon pushes out a little bit of space to introduce Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch and lets the situation with Ultron provide more background to fill in their back story. The Vision is also thrown into the mix and plays a crucial role.
The tale is punctuated with sections of exhilarating superhero violence (the kind with gigantic powers but little actual bloodshed) and since the main villains are non-human robots, the heroes can beat them to pieces with the same abandon used on the alien invaders from Avengers I. It's not a video game catharsis of killing zombies, but it's not that far removed.
Whedon has made a solid superhero movie and an essential chapter in the Disney/Marvel exploding catalog of cinema of comic book films. Whedon's tale also references the sub-plots of the other Marvel movies already made and to still be made, which lets Avengers Age of Ultron act much like the first film did - a kind of plot backbone that the other films plug into.
Age of Ultron Reviews:
Your mission, Joss Whedon, if you choose to accept it, is to make a sequel to the biggest money-making superhero movie ever made.
Suffering from the over packed feel of too many major characters taking up screen time, the movie is also hurt by being an obvious vehicle to ease the transition from an Iron-Man dominated Avengers into a different group for the inevitable Avengers III.
The special effects are state of the art and so is the superhero dramatics.
Original Page October 3, 2015 | Updated August 2020