The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel to the enormously successful Avengers film that came out in 2012, opened in UK cinemas yesterday ahead of its global release next week. Judging by just how packed my local Cineworld was for one of the 21 showings on the opening day, the appetite to see Earth’s mightiest heroes in action has never been stronger.
Age of Ultron is an incredibly entertaining film. From the trailers, you might have got the impression that this is where the Marvel Cinematic Universe turns a little darker but that couldn’t be further from the truth – Age of Ultron may actually be funnier than Guardians of the Galaxy (is that even possible? The answer is yes!), packing loads of jokes into its two hour running time in between the action and the inevitable rise of Ultron himself.
Going back to the jokes though, the gags are shared out pretty evenly, with Hawkeye and Vision in particular generating huge laughs in my screening.
Speaking of, Vision steals the film for me. It’s no secret that Paul Bettany is a terrific actor, and he does a brilliant job bringing Vision to life and making him clearly distinctive from Jarvis. I can’t be the only person to leave the movie wistfully dreaming of a Vision/Thor buddy movie. They have brilliant chemistry together and when you go to your local theater to take in the grand spectacle that is Age of Ultron, you’ll see what I mean.
Not all of the new characters are quite so successful though. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are rather undeveloped, with the latter in particular suffering from very poorly defined powers (a problem at times in the comics too, to be fair). However, this can happen when there is an over-satuation — everyone wants to see their favorite character have the most screen time and sometimes the newcomers suffer in the light of new villains.
It’s hard not to compare the Age of Ultron version of Quicksilver with that of last year’s Days of Future Past movie. While he is very much a peripheral figure in Days of Future Past, he is also responsible for what I considered, hands down, to the best part of the film. He is much more involved here, but despite a couple of fun exchanges with Hawkeye, he does feel rather tacked on. The accents from both – and from anyone who is not playing an American really – are not the best.
With so many characters to fit into the movie, it could easily have become a mess, particularly in the fight scenes. One of the big criticisms of the Transformers movies has been that it is difficult to tell what’s going on in the action scenes, with so many moving parts. There are even more moving parts in Age of Ultron, yet the fight scenes are so brilliantly choreographed and shot that it’s never unclear exactly what’s going on and who is doing what.
In some ways, Age of Ultron is a victim of its predecessors’ success. The Avengers was the perfect conclusion to the first phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. It rounded off the stories begun in the first two Iron Man movies, Thor and Captain America, but also stood alone as a fantastic film and story in its own right.
Times have changed somewhat. We now know what Marvel has planned for the next few years, and Age of Ultron at times feels like it is used as a stepping stone to those future movies. It feels somewhat episodic as a result, like we are seeing a middle chapter in a bigger story rather than a standalone story in and of itself. That’s not necessarily a problem for people like me who love spotting the callbacks to earlier films and signposts for what is coming next, but it does rely on the viewer having a far more working knowledge of Marvel’s movie output to date than their past films.
Age of Ultron is certainly not perfect. At times the plot feels more than a little repetitive, and it suffers from being used as a set up for the next batch of films. However it is just so much fun, with so many smart lines and entertaining performances that it is hard to be too critical. Would I recommend the film? Absolutely. Marvel fans everywhere are going to love this film, but it will be hard to see past some of the story and character flaws. Past that, it is an enjoyable film that will likely hit #1 at box offices worldwide, but I’m not sure it will have the resounding success of its predecessor.
Have you seen Age of Ultron? Let us know what you thought about it in the comments below!
+ Great humor
+ Beautifully choreographed fight scenes
- Under-developed characters
- Feels like there could have been more