I’m not a comic book fan. I have ample respect for the art form. It’s just a facet of fandom that never really grabbed me and yelled, “PAY ATTENTION AND SPEND MONEY!” This is kind of nice when it comes to movies based on comic books, because I can enjoy the movies, or not, based on their merits, rather than what was or wasn’t in the comics.
Marvel’s recent films have brought me many hours of viewing enjoyment. That said…Avengers: Age of Ultron is not the best of their recent endeavors. It’s a darn good movie, thoroughly entertaining, excellent by any standard of comic movies other than Marvel’s. But because Marvel has done better in the past, I kind of expected the trend would continue. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, it did not.
Let me address the things done right in the movie, first. All the “support” elements (costume design, soundtrack, sets, special effects) were consistently fantastic. Development of existing characters was great, especially for Black Widow and the Hulk. For all the flak there’s been over the dearth of Black Widow merchandise, I was very pleased with how much development and screen time she got—and, yes, with the moments when the character was allowed to have flaws and regrets, instead of just being nonstop kickass.
The difficult balance of tension and camaraderie between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark was given enough time to drive home upcoming conflicts, without beating us over the head with them. I liked the glimpse into Hawkeye’s surprisingly normal home life.
I thoroughly enjoyed how Avengers: Age of Ultron handled two very disparate and very powerful AIs. I thought it was an intriguing exploration of how entities literally “born yesterday,” with an entire world of information immediately accessible to them, with no preconceptions or societal constraints, might respond. Whedon even managed to surprise me once. (“You didn’t see that coming?” No, I didn’t—that one got me.)
There were many things Avengers: Age of Ultron did very, very well. But there were also a number of problems.
The movie reminded me a lot of the fable of the miller, his son, and the donkey. There were so many characters who had to be featured, so many plot points that needed to be introduced, so many loose ends that had to be tied up, so many different interests with a finger in the metaphorical pie, that the movie wound up feeling quite disjointed.
All the elements were good. Individually, they were well done. But there were so darn many of them that they just did not fit together into a cohesive whole. And a few really important points (most notably the Maximoff twins’ rampaging hatred of Stark) got glossed over in the interest of time.
Sure, one can argue that the twins did what they had to do in moments of crisis—and, if that point comes back to bite the team in the backside in a future movie, I’ll withdraw the complaint. But in Avengers: Age of Ultron, they went from wanting to kill him and anyone associated with him to working alongside him too quickly for it to be credible.
On the whole, Avengers: Age of Ultron really is a good movie. I’m sure I’ll watch it again, and I’ll enjoy it. It’s just not Marvel’s best.
Release Date: May 1, 2015 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (social drinking and intoxication)
Language: 2 (several uses of “s word”, abundant minor profanities and name of deity)
Sexuality: 1 (innuendo)
Violence: 3 (much death and maiming, some more graphic than others)