Check out Josh and Violet’s spoiler-free male vs. female perspective reviews of Avengers: Age of Ultron, written and directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner… and the list goes on for this star-studded cast!
His Movie Review of
Avengers: Age of
The national Avengers Day holiday finally happened on May 1st, or actually April 30th for some of us who were able to see the film the day before it officially opened. It is a holiday that only happens every few years, and moves around like Easter, but it is an exciting event when it comes around. For people not too familiar with Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film is produced by Marvel (yes the comic book company) and has a whole slew of heroes: Chris Evans as Captain America, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, James Spader as the villain Ultron, Anthony Mackey as Falcon, Don Cheadle as War Machine, Elizabeth Olson as Scarlet Witch, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver. I am pretty sure there are a few people I am missing still too. The film is also directed by Joss Whedon, who directed the first and is probably best known for his TV series such as Buffy and Firefly, among a few others. Given how well received the first Avengers was, this one had a lot riding on it. Fans’ anticipation levels were through the roof, so trying to meet and exceed those expectations is a daunting task for Marvel.
So, in the sequel, as we have seen in the trailers, Ultron, a type of artificial intelligence has it out for the Avengers, and the rest of the world. Additionally, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are introduced, but what their capacity is in the movie is unclear in the beginning. That gets cleared up pretty early on in the movie though. Suffice it to say, without any spoilers, Ultron makes life Hell for the Avengers, which is good because it helps to create an interesting movie.
So how does the sequel stack up to the original? Let’s start off with the good. First, the returning characters are the same that we have grown to love from the previous movies: Tony Stark is still snarky, Captain America is still a Boy Scout, Thor is still his cocky godlike self, and the Hulk is, well…the Hulk. The chemistry between the characters is still working in Age of Ultron, which is one of best parts of the movie.
This probably doesn’t even need to be said, but the action is pretty insane throughout the movie. And there is a lot of it. The movie opens with action, the middle has action, and of course it all culminates into a grand finale of action. Seeing the team, along with new members working together was a fun thrill ride.
Hawkeye/Jeremy Renner was phenomenal this movie as well. In the first movie, he spent half of it under mind control. That certainly does not happen this time around, and Hawkeye makes sure of it. But he does become the heart of the team, and it works really well. I also like that he points out in the movie how ludicrous it is he is fighting alongside these Avengers with just a bow and arrow. I think Hawkeye probably had the most character development in the movie. Vision was another character that was really surprising. His pondering of life and humanity, especially with regards to Ultron, was probably the deepest part of the movie. I also thought Black Widow and Bruce Banner had some good character development as well.
Of course, since Joss Whedon is directing, the witty one-liners are everywhere in the movie. Most of them are quite hilarious too. I think my favorite funny “bit” involves Vision and Thor’s hammer. Keep an eye out for it if you haven’t seen it yet.
But let’s talk about some of the not so great now. The biggest issue I had with the film was how rushed the movie felt. A lot of things were paced really fast, or glossed over entirely. For example, in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark had blown up all of his robots and seemed to have an epiphany about his obsession with technology. But then in this movie, he is as deep in it as ever, with more robot sentries helping him out. What happened with that whole story arc? The development of Ultron was also done extremely quickly.
Something that I would think would take months/years to happen happened in the span of about three days. Additionally, there was so much action, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for character development for the most part. The times that there were the quiet, reflective moments seemed to be cut short for some reason or another, and they didn’t resonate as much as I would have hoped. I can understand some of these rushed moments– Joss Whedon and the writers have 2.5ish hours to tell a story, which is not a lot when there are dozens of characters to worry about.
Also, at times the pacing felt a little wonky. The beginning has this explosive opening, which then gets really slow all of a sudden but then picks back up again. That happened a few more times in the movie too, and it just made me lose a little focus.
The biggest issue with the movie is how similar it is to the first in story. A lot of the same notes were being hit. I want to give a big warning here:
SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN AGE OF ULTRON YET. MINOR SPOILERS ARE COMING! So the same notes being hit are, of course, a force unites the Avengers, which in both movies was some piece of technology that went awry. The Avengers assemble, and of course as the same in the first, the team is broken, and there is a maniac Hulk on the loose. Bruce is a bit emo for a while, but in the end shows up for the final big boss fight. Also, don’t forget the misguided person(s) who get into a situation over their head (Loki in the first, the twins in the second). Sure, Loki is more evil than the twins are, but Loki did seem to have a couple moments where he looked like things were going farther than he thought they would. And finally, the end moment puts a couple of Avengers at odds with another thing in the sky which may not only level a city, but kill said Avenger in the process. For me, all of these parallels felt a little too rehashed. SPOILERS OVER!
Ok, now that that is out of the way, the one final quibble I have with Age of Ultron was some of the special effects. The opening sequences most notably had some pretty poor looking CGI, I thought. It seemed way too obvious that this was digital work rather than our heroes, and it took me out of the movie a couple times. In the first film, CGI was noticeable, but it wasn’t to the point of distracting.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that Whedon topped his previous performance. In all honesty, the first time I saw the film, Thursday night, I came out of the movie with mixed feelings. The humor hit right the first time around, and the ending for the most part was pretty satisfying, but I felt a hole somewhere that was hard to place. I resolved to see it again though, and that time around, I felt satiated. The problems I pointed out above were still prevalent, but the second time around I was able to let them go by, and just enjoy the “blockbuster-ness” of my favorite heroes taking down the evil bad guy.
There are loads more to talk about with Age of Ultron but rather than bore you with the details, I recommend getting out and seeing it. Despite my complaints above, it is still a lot of fun, and certainly worth your $10 to see it. If you try not to nitpick the movie too much, the spectacle Joss Whedon creates with humor and action will draw you in for a good 2 and a half hour ride. Just don’t expect too much in terms of story, and you will be fine. I would give Age of Ultron a 7.75 out of 10. I don’t feel it quite deserves an 8, as much as I would like to give it one. If the first time I saw it, I felt as good as I did the second time around, I would probably give it the 8.
Her Movie Review of Avengers: Age of Ultron:
They’re back! That’s right, the Avengers are finally back together and back in action! Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner reprise their roles as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, respectively. Additionally, we are introduced to a few new characters: Quicksilver, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen, Vision, played by Paul Bettany, and Ultron, voiced by James Spader. We do see a few other familiar faces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”), but I’ll leave those as a surprise.
As if that wasn’t enough awesome for you, Joss Whedon (best known for cult classic TV series Firefly, and other TV series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel), who directed and co-wrote the first Avengers film, returned to write and direct Avengers: Age of Ultron. With all of that awesomeness in one film, and all the hype that has been surrounding it for so long, especially after the Marvel panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014, this was a highly anticipated film not only for myself, but for millions of nerds, and even non-nerds, around the world.
Avengers: Age of Ultron begins right in the middle of an action scene, with the Avengers trying to fight their way into a HYDRA facility in Sokovia, a town in Eastern Europe, at which Dr. Strucker has been experimenting on humans using Loki’s scepter. Strucker has had success with twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff – Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch – in that Pietro has developed super speed, and Wanda can manipulate minds and energy. Despite some interference by the Twins, the Avengers succeed in breaking into the HYDRA building, apprehending Strucker, and retrieving Loki’s scepter.
Back in New York, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner secretly work on using the artificial intelligence found within the scepter as part of Tony’s defense system, Ultron, with the goal of achieving peace. However, after multiple attempts, it seems that they have failed. The Avengers then have a party to celebrate their success in Sokovia, but unbeknownst to them, Ultron has become sentient, and crashes the party in the form of a broken down Iron Legion drone. As Ultron sees it, the way to bring peace to the world is to destroy all humans, especially the Avengers, and most especially, Tony Stark.
Ultron is able to return to Sokovia with the scepter, build himself a new and improved body, and recruits the Twins to help him with his mission to destroy the Avengers. So the Avengers find themselves up against not only a highly advanced AI bent on destroying them and the world, as well as a a super speedster, who can physically derail them, but also a mental manipulator who can tear them apart from the inside out.
As expected from the MCU, especially in a film on such a grand scale of this wherein the Avengers have been assembled, Avengers: Age of Ultron is fun and action packed. The Avengers team that we met in the first film seem to have settled into a comfortable groove of working together, and of course, witty banter ensues. These are the Avengers that we all know and love, and it was great seeing them back together again, especially since all of the actors really feel like they are the incarnation of their characters.
Whereas the first film was more focused on the task of bringing these individuals together, and getting them to actually cooperate with each other and learn to work together toward a common goal of saving the world, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, although certain team members have certain issues with other team members, they are already used to working together. So this time around, the film tries to give us more of an insight on the team members’ personal lives, and allows us to get to know them better, especially the team members who don’t and won’t have their own standalone movies — Hawkeye and Black Widow.
That means that between all the action, and the main storyline, and the small subplots, that’s a lot to pack into a run time of 141 minutes, which normally would be considered to be on the long side, but with everything that was going on, it really wasn’t long enough. There was so much trying to be crammed into a not-too-long run time that I felt like a lot of the mini-storylines going on within the film, and even some aspects of the main storyline, felt incomplete, or that they weren’t fully explained. I almost felt like the film would have been better off leaving out some of these side stories. Despite all the cramming, there were still parts of the film that suffered from slow pacing, or pacing that felt a little off. Overall, the film didn’t feel quite cohesive enough to me, and even after watching it a second time, there were still a few things that didn’t make sense to me. Perhaps a longer version of the film in the form of a director’s cut and/or some deleted scenes will be a way to fill in those gaps and allow these things to make more sense.
Regardless, I think Joss Whedon did a great job of tying together past events from the MCU, and setting things up for what’s to come. After all, Avengers: Age of Ultron is the second to last film in Phase 2 of the MCU (Ant-Man being the final Phase 2 film, due out in July), and we will start Phase 3 in about a year with Captain America: Civil War — and that’s only the beginning of several more films to follow.
Overall, I did have a fun time and enjoyed Avengers: Age of Ultron. The special effects were amazing and looked great. Everything looked so sleek, smooth, and realistic, especially Ultron in his various incarnations. I really liked Red Reddington’s — er, I mean, James Spader’s — performance as Ultron, as he not only voiced the character, but acted him through motion capture. The only time when the CGI bothered me was at the very beginning, during the opening action sequence. It looked like everything was in fast motion, and it all looked cartoony and fake. As a result, it took me a little while to get into the movie at first. But I didn’t have any problems with the way anything looked after that.
Although Avengers: Age of Ultron was fun and action packed and enjoyable, I didn’t feel that it quite lived up to the first Avengers film. I think part of it may have been that the newness of seeing the team fight together for the first time had worn off. I think maybe another reason was because I had such high expectations due to all of the hype and anticipation surrounding the film, that it was impossible to live up to. Whatever the reason, I didn’t feel quite as excited walking out of the theater as I thought I would upon walking into it. It was good, but not great.
My rating: 7.5/10