Avengers was overrated. Now, before you throw rocks at me and swear off my reviews forever, please hear me out. Is Avengers one of the best superhero movies ever? Yes. It’s one of my all time favorites. But when you go back and look at the actual plot, it doesn’t really stack up to other iconic hero films like The Dark Knight, Iron Man, or X-Men 2. One of the heroes’ arch enemies teams up with a random alien army to invade earth; it sounds like the plot of an animated, straight to DVD Marvel movie. But Avengers wasn’t great because of its story. It was a success, because it was fun. A little chemistry between actors, and some great action scenes go a long way. But to feel like a better movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron needed to feel a bit smarter.
Obviously seeing the films since the previous Avengers (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: Winter Soldier) are pivotal to understanding cameos, plot points, and certainly the opening sequence of the movie. But newcomers can get the gist pretty quickly. Cocky, but brainy Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) returns as Iron Man along with straight laced leader Captain America (Chris Evans), master assassin Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), snarky sniper Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the Shakespearean speaking muscle man, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and of course, the loveable rage monster. Hulk a.k.a. Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). The gang reunites to recover Loki’s mind controlling staff from HYDRA and a pair of super powered evil twins (Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen). After a seemingly successful mission, an uber paranoid Tony Stark decides to create an artificial intelligence to protect the world, ultimately resulting in the creation of the evil android antagonist for which the film is named.
The first thing you need to know is that everything that was good about 2012’s Avengers is back. The characters all have tremendous chemistry. Evans and Downey Jr. are a perfect rocky, but efficient tandem. Johansson and Ruffalo manage to create a beautiful, albeit random, romance. And Jeremy Renner manages to steal the show with some timely quips and genuine heart. Newcomers Aaron Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are welcomed additions if you can overcome their lousy European accents. Their characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, have the most visually appealing powers in the film. The only actor lost in all of this seems to be Hemsworth’s Thor, who never really has his moment to shine. James Spader makes it all come together well as Ultron, a charismatic villain who makes his dreams of human extinction justifiable through a very childishly hopeful, yet almost God-like perspective.
The problem is; it might be too much of the same. Director Joss Whedon seems to not have learned from the flaws of his last Marvel venture. He just seems to have traded aliens for robots. Even the climactic battle, as pleasing to the eyes as it may be, is almost an exact retread from the New York City skirmish in Avengers. Ultron even does his best to pull a Loki and make the team turn on each other.
There are also things that purists (anyone who has watched all of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) will undoubtedly notice. For instance; if the Avengers are all buddies who are ready to just jump back into action when needed, then why didn’t they appear in each other’s solo adventures? I’m pretty sure Thor could’ve used Captain America’s help when Dark Elves were destroying London in The Dark World. And where were Iron Man and War Machine (Don Cheadle) when S.H.I.E.L.D. fell apart in Winter Soldier? Come to think of it; didn’t Tony Stark destroy all of his Iron suits at the end of Iron Man 3? And yet, there he is in the opening sequence, in his armor and controlling a host of drones.
It might seem nitpicky, but Marvel’s cinematic universe prides itself on the connectivity. Why have a bunch of dots on the page that don’t connect in the final picture? This is not to deter you from seeing the movie, by any means. Avengers: Age of Ultron is fun and exciting and a must watch for any action/adventure fan. I left feeling excited about what’s to come as you probably will too. I just wish Marvel would put the same thought into their biggest money maker, as they do with the smaller ones.
FINAL GRADE: C+