Posted by moviebuffmel90
When “The Avengers” came out, there was a tidal wave of excitement in 2012. Not only was it a crossover with our favorite characters but opened a new door for superhero movies in general. It proved you can have a good story with straight up fun action. Well, I didn’t think it could be topped but it was…by “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Call it personal taste, but what “Guardians” did was perfect the “raised bar” further with such a premise that sounded strange on idea but turned to be something more like “Futurama” where the focus is on the characters and how they relate. It felt like there wasn’t a way Marvel Studios could top itself again and sadly “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is proof.
Now, don’t mistake this as a negative review. “Ultron” is a good sequel and a great follow-up to one of the best superhero blockbusters. But part of me feels there’s only so many times you can surprise your viewers, let alone amaze them. I’m not saying Marvel is bad seeing they are keeping a good track record but at this point, one must be cautious before the next big “tent pole”. The hype for “Ultron” and marketing has been making it out to be this next big “Godfather II” sequel in my opinion and going in viewers must know that what they will get is not a masterpiece. But rather something that really kicks off the summer movie binge.
The Avengers return with everyone at the helm when a new threat comes into view and this time its man made. Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) crafts a new defense program called Ultron that is basically a living and breathing computer program set to save the world. And it just so happens that Loki’s staff provides some extra ingredient in bringing his creation to life. At first it starts off as an abstract form but later takes the body of a robot with the voice of James Spader who believes the only way to save the world is to destroy all of humanity. With the threat of extinction at hand, the gang tries to remain one step ahead of the technologically advanced villain while also try and work as a better team.
What made the first Avengers work in the first place was the concept itself. A group of superheros getting together, trying to work off each other and fight together. This was something really new at the time and I feel “Ultron” tries to place it in a fresh direction while it has some familiarity. The biggest risk is that secret service S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t there to help them out so now everyone has to work together despite having some problems with one another. Iron Man keeps butting heads with Captain America (Chris Evans) over the right way to handle government creations (seeing Cap was made to protect through a serum) while Thor is stuck between his way of handling things and the “human way.” Even Bruce Banner tries to keep his Hulk under control while dealing with a romance between him and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) that ends in a bittersweet moment that’s very heartbreaking.
Ultron himself is an interesting character pushing the boundaries for what is good for the human race even if it means killing it. Sure this is something that has been done before yet the characteristic and motivation is what keeps it fresh. Ultron plans to fabricate a being close to his own thought and when it does form, there’s more than just a unique good vs. evil ploy but even the question of how much technology can evolve to the point a living being can be human yet android. James Spader dons a personality that gives the metal menace a fun yet diabolical personality as he tends to channel the sarcastic quirk of Tony Stark as almost a clone of the playboy scientist.
With everything that works in the movie, are there things that go against it? For starters, its a sequel and at this point, viewers expect a retread or something fresh. Director Josh Whedon returns going in a direction that is a bit edgier than the first film but at the same time carries on elements that made the first film work. They don’t feel like a complete clone of the first but more take things in a different aspect. The group fights but this time its over the ethical “saving the world” choice. There are big action scenes as one city gets torn up after another but feel more slick and up the ante. A notable highlight is a fight between Iron Man and Bruce as the Hulk with an African city in risk being demolished. There are moments which make me wonder if the first is trumped seeing a few things are fixed like the character of Hawkeye getting more screen time and development. But there’s some bits of territory that almost feel familiar like the big climax where a city is in danger as the Avengers try to save every civilian they can. There are some additions that add on the risk factor while keeping it entertaining but there’s only so many times you rehash certain beats like stalling the villain or Iron Man trying to stop some form of ticking bomb.
The heart of “Age of Ultron” is really the story which feels like a superhero version of the Frankenstein mythos. Creator makes a near human replica out of old artifacts (in this case an old computer program and Loki’s staff), creator rejects creation, creation sees the world and seeks after another like him and revenge against creator and so forth. Even the second half feels a little “Bride of Frankenstein” in spots while again giving a modern yet fresh take. This is the glue that held the whole movie together in the midst of its explosions and reheated yet well-done cliches for me. It shows you can take old elements and give them new life to something entertaining while also smart when it needs to be. As a sequel and follow-up to the first film, “Ultron” works fine enough to give a high recommendation but as the next “bar raising” movie is something to be debated.
Tags: Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Widow, Bride of Frankenstein, Bruce Banner, Captain America, Chris Evans, Frankenstein, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, James Spader, Marvel Studios, Robert Downey Jr., Stan Lee, Summer Blockbuster, The Avengers, Thor, Ultron