The Ninjabot

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Review; More Action, Destruction & Mind Control

Posted on April 30, 2015 at 10:46 am by David "Snackbar" Edmundson

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The Marvel cinematic universe has forever changed the way film franchises are made today. Gone are the days of multi-year gaps between sequels, in are the interconnected universes, consecutive year sequels and franchises mapped out years in advance. But is this a good thing? To paraphrase the great Dr. Ian Malcolm film makers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.

The beauty of Avengers: Age of Ultron is that these characters have been so well established over the previous 10 Marvel films that returning director Joss Whedon is able to skip all introductions and get the movie going right from the beginning. The Avengers; Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) attack a HYDRA facility run by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), an adversary spotted in the mid-credits sequence for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The Baron is encouraged to unleash “The Twins,” enhanced warriors given powers by the mysterious gem located in Loki’s scepter. HYDRA used the alien stone’s magical abilities to experiment on willing human test subjects. Tony Stark, once he obtains the stone, has other, similarly dubious plans. That’s right folks, we are still dealing with HYDRA! I was done with these guys after the first Captain America film.

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The film continues the thread started in Iron Man 3, Tony Stark is still deeply scarred from the events of the attack on New York that occurred during the first Avengers film. It is his desire to protect the world that leads to the eventual creation of Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a super smart murder bot hell bent on destroying humanity to protect the world from them. Good job science.

One of the big things going for Age of Ultron is the scope of the film, it’s absolutely massive. There are numerous set pieces on several continents, and the world building is exquisite. Each location is uniquely different and serves a specific purpose in the storytelling. The film is also paced infinitely better than it’s predecessor. The first act of the original Avengers lagged at times, and felt uneven. This film takes off from word one and doesn’t let go until the credits.

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Sadly though, this film like all of the other Marvel films without Loki as the central villain leaves us wanting in the bad guy department. Spader is great as the voice of Ultron, but the character’s “daddy issues” with Iron Man are whiny at best. His evil intentions are not easily apparent, and even his minions seems to not always know what is going on. There are moments of delight in Ultron, but for the most part he is a so-so villain.

Not that the villain is important to the story, this is really just a prequel for Captain America: Civil War, and they set it up brilliantly. We’ve all seen the Hulk vs. Iron Man fight in the trailers and clips so it is safe to say that the Hulk basically destroying a town will be a big factor in Civil War where Superheroes and their powers take center stage. If Civil War is to pit Iron Man against Captain America as it did in the comics, then the film exposes the pair’s idealogical differences perfectly and lays the ground work for their falling out.

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My biggest beef with the film is it’s return to mind control as a device to break up the team. As you probably know, Scarlet Witch’s power is the ability to warp reality, which is a fancy way to say mind control. I know it does more, but for brevity it’s mind control. Remember the last Avengers? When they used mind control to tear the team apart. Same thing, new title. For me that is just lazy story telling. If you have an all knowing murder-bot in Ultron, why not use his superior intellect to drive a schism between the vastly different heroes? Let the characters set the stage, not magic red smoke in your brain. It’s a small complaint, but I think it’s the cause for Ultron’s inevitable weenie-ness. Let the big bad guy, play with the flash heroes.

But negatives aside, Age of Ultron is Whedon at his best. The script is fun and features a lot of great jokes. It also features a line that is the modern day equivalent of Han Solo’s iconic “I know” as a profession of love. I won’t spoil it, but you can’t miss it. The film also seems hell bent on apologizing to Hawkeye fans for his mistreatment in the first film. Hawkeyes is significantly more flushed out, and you actually care a little bit about him this time around… a little bit.

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Age of Ultron is a notch above the first Avengers, and really sets into motion what will be Marvel Phase 3. We were warned repeatedly that the Avengers team at the end of the film will be greatly different than the one in the beginning and they were right. I will not spoil who stays, who goes, and who is added, but I would love to hear your comments about the new team. I will go out on a limb and say I don’t like it, but who would have thought in 2006 that I would have loved Iron Man, Thor, or Black Widow. Or find a way to find the Hulk enjoyable on screen. Marvel clearly knows hat they are doing and I can’t wait to see what comes next… I mean after Ant-Man of course.

The_Avengers_Age_Ultron_14238501559890Snackbar’s Grade: B+

Pros – Insane action, great set pieces, very funny
Cons – I’m over destruction porn, Ultron is inconsistent, mind control seems like a story-telling crutch and it detracts from the overall story, HYDRA… again

One quick note, there is a mid credit scene, but nothing after the credits so don’t worry about holding in that mega large soda through the whole credit sequence.

Have you seen the film? Let us know what you thought of the movie in the comment section below.

Follow Snackbar on Twitter @snackie_cakes for all your Geek News

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