The Avengers Age of Ultron
Your mission, Joss Whedon, if you choose to accept it, is to make a sequel to the biggest money-making superhero movie (thus far) ever made.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is what it had to be
Rocky start but gels once the characters get to do something besides throw things
Ultron starts right off the mark with battle that has the look of a video game. The Avengers race around a CGI landscape and punch, kick and toss around the camouflaged soldiers of villain Baron Strucker like puppets. Then Whedon drops the frame-rate to a limp and we get to see the Avengers in slo-mo-glory as they charge, airborne, in forward motion to continue further punching, kicking and tossing. It's a moment of CGI playtime (and it looks very CGI, which may not be a good thing a few years from now) that doesn't really do anything except to put all the characters together into a single "splash panel." But it's not pointless, as Strucker is defeated and one of the "infinity stones" are introduced to the story, which will be the power source for much of the movies later mayhem.
That's quite a different start than the economical (and more interesting) start of Avengers I, in which Black Widow (a non-super powered human being, though with comic book size fighting skills) is introduced and some characterization (and humor) is brought forward, with the movie building off of that single human episode toward the super-powered climax.
But Whedon has more money for Avengers II and the pressures are different, apparently, so instead of a human launch to the 142 minutes of screen time, we get superhero menace full-bore, swamping the screen. It certainly is flashier but doesn't hold up for repeated viewing's, which is the problem with out of control CGI, it tends to lose itself as being of any importance to the actually story, that nagging bit of entertainment that justifies the whole program.
Whedon gets the story in gear once the CGI pill is swallowed, though, and the remaining movie integrates the fantastic powers of the super heroes into a tale that is interesting, part Twilight Zone episode and part Star Trek (with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, et al, flavoring the whole pie). Ultron is an Artificial Intelligence program started by a frightened Tony Stark (Iron Man) after contemplating the inability of Earth to legitimately defend it self successfully against future intergalactic threats.
Designed to keep the planet in a state of peace, the Ultron project is hatched from it's development stage into a working product rather haphazardly (Tony and crew depart for a party, leaving the A.I. program Jarvis in charge of babysitting Ultron) and after a series of funny interludes concerning Thor's hammer, Ultron appears, malformed and trying to reason it's way toward the fulfillment of it's program. A fight quickly follows but Ultron escapes over the internet, and it is then crossed with one of the crazy eight-ball infinity stones, increasing it's already impressive Ion Man-like abilities by several magnitudes of power.
Incidentally, the solution Ultron has by now computed to solve its raison d'etra of keeping the peace is to erase the human race.
Whether Marvel Comics/Disney simply has too much self-hatred on board Ultron or it is just a clever plot device is hard to fathom. But Whedon delivers what has to be done, which is to have Ultron exude some kind of personality that fascinates (it does, James Spader twists up his line readings with equal parts of self-wonder, sarcasm, irony and an attitude of discovery that mimics the Mary Shelly Frankenstein as originally conceived). And this is all wrapped up in a visual presence that is partially the usual robotic, Metropolis-derived cyber image, but at other times Ultron is presented like a broken toy (allusions to Pinocchio appear), lending a humanity that clouds the purely crazed-computer cliche' as just another in a long line of HAL knock offs.
Metropolis - Rotwang the inventor and his creation. Influential Fritz Lang sci-fi film from 1927, Germany.
The climax is an unfortunate redo of the first film, except this time in a floating city (in fictitious Sokovia) intended to be turned into a meteor to sock the earth and kill all the humans, ala' the death of the dinosaurs. Duplicate Ultron robots crawl around the place like wounded zombies, the battle becoming a street-to-street fight that exhausts our heroes much in the same way as the first film, though by comparison it simply isn't as interesting.
But the Avengers win and there is a denouement in which a new team roster is set up (with new characters The Vision, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) while some of the older members (Iron Man, Thor, Hulk) seem to have departed with other things on their minds.
In it's 22 week run, Avengers Age of Ultron made $1.402 billion, almost reaching the $1.5 billion dollar mark that made the 2012 The Avengers the biggest earning superhero film in history.
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 Oct 3, 2015