Avengers: Age of Ultron ReviewJoe Shaffer
Once again Marvel's finest have assembled, and the theater beckons us to behold this spectacle. Only this time you might feel fatigue setting in...
Though Avengers: Age of Ultron's predecessor wasn't brilliant, it was exuberant enough to send constant chills down my spine. It was everything a summer blockbuster should be: loud, expensive, filled with explosions, and tightly written enough to show a bit of wit without overstimulating or condescending its audience. The heroes were always in peril, either because of the dastardly acts of the antagonist or because of their internal conflict. Even though you knew what the outcome would be, it was awesome watching them surmount each roadblock presented to them. Yes, Avengers succeeded because it was a culmination of many events. It was the quaking rupture after a five-movie build up, and it was terrific.
Age of Ultron, on the other hand, felt like a rest stop on the way to another bursting point. The movie was brimming with references and setups for future works, from Black Panther villain Ulysses Klaue's suggested origin story to clues to the potential storyline for the upcoming Thor: Ragnorok. More than anything, Age of Ultron felt like a teaser for Marvel Phase III, and that's the last thing an Avengers movie should be. When I hear the name "Avengers" in reference to movies, I think "major film event," not, "Here's a bunch of foreshadowing. Reserve tickets!"
Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying it's a bad superhero movie by any stretch. After all, it's every bit as loud and sarcastic as the previous Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies have been. The flick shows off some wonderful fight sequences, usually between the titular antagonist and one of the Avengers. The only problem is that these battles aren't very memorable. I recall Iron Man taking to the skies and giving Ultron a midair beat down, and there are hints in my memory of Captain America putting the screws to the supervilain on a bus, but I can't tell you much more than that.
In fact, almost everything about this movie is overshadowed by one awesome fight scene between Iron Man, donning the Hulkbuster armor, and Hulk. It was an expertly handled brawl, involving plenty of urban destruction and moments when you wondered how Stark was going to minimize pedestrian casualties. Hell, I'll even say that Hulk was a better opponent than Ultron, given that he actually gave Tony Stark a run for his money.
That's my number one problem with Age of Ultron: Marvel Studios made Ultron out to be too much of a pushover. It's almost as though the writers figured that we knew what the result would be in a battle between Ultron and the Avengers and just didn't bother to make him an opposing enough threat. He would initiate one standard villain plan, get his butt kicked, move on to another, get schooled again, and then finally the movie ends.
Ultimately, I would still place Age of Ultron far above such train wrecks as X-Men: The Last Stand and Spider-Man 3, though it's not the awesome joyride it should have been. Not only does a villain like Ultron deserve to be more of an imposing force, but I felt like the movie would have been more thrilling if the heroes seemed like they were in a greater sense of danger, as in their crossover.
This might seem like an odd comparison, but I can't help but think about the Dragonball Z movies and how they strangely handle their villains better than this movie does--and that's saying a lot because the DBZ movie villains are as simple as they come. We all know Goku is going to either Kamehameha or Spirit Bomb the main antagonist into next century, regardless of the fact that his new foe just crushed all of his friends and broke every bone in Goku's body. Yet, it's much more fulfilling seeing the Saiyan destroy his opponent from his lowly, busted position than it is to see him dominate and conquer. I think I'd like to see more of that from a future Avengers entry.
Thankfully (hopefully?), the Infinity Wars duology seems to promise that it will deliver on that end...
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