The newest Avengers film was released in Australia on Thursday last week, 23rd April, a whole 7 days before the North American release date (they call us “Lucky Country” for a reason!). Seeing as though Australia always lags behind on movie release dates (I’m looking at you “The Hobbit”…), I took this opportunity to go and view it in 3D as soon as possible, before the inevitable spoilers got around to me.
After the first film, I had high expectations. Three years ago, The Avengers blew me away with its tying together of characters I loved and incredible action scenes. Following on from this success, Marvel has continued to impress me, most recently with Guardians of the Galaxy; possibly my favourite film of 2014. To say I was excited to see Age of Ultron was an understatement, however I think this may have been my shortcoming.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a “good” movie, but that’s the problem, it’s only “good”. If you haven’t seen any of the previous Marvel Studios’ films, then I’m sure you will find this movie exceptional! However, if you have, it’s more of the same. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, it doesn’t add a sense of freshness to the franchise in a similar way to its predecessors.
Without giving too much away (i.e. slight spoiler warning), ‘Age of Ultron’ focuses on the team dynamic following the events of the first Avengers movie. Already, the power struggle between the righteous leader, Captain America, and mad scientist, Tony Stark is apparent, only mounting in tension as the movie progresses. This is clearly in preparation for the next Captain America film (Civil War), yet fits perfectly fine here.
Unlike in the comics where Hank Pym (Ant Man) created Ultron, in Age of Ultron, Tony Stark along with Bruce Banner (the Hulk), manufacture the sentient robot after discovering an artificial intelligence contained within Loki’s scepter.
Stark’s motive? “Peace in our time”.
However, his greater ambition was to remove the need for a super hero team such as the Avengers. This stemmed from his PTSD and the thought of being responsible for the death of his team members.
However, just like many great science fiction stories of the past, the program goes rogue and turns against its creator, and inevitably, the whole of humanity.
I really wanted to become more engaged by the film, but there was one thing that kept niggling in the back of my mind:
/Start nerd rant
Whilst not conforming to the comics is generally not my major gripe against Marvel films, there was one aspect here which did annoy me. The way the back stories of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were handled was frustrating, having Tony Stark be responsible for their parents’ death.
For those not in the know, Witch and Silver are both mutants from the X-Men comics as well as children to Magneto. So why not show that in the movie? Well, due to licensing issues with 20th Century Fox, Marvel Studios aren’t allowed to use “mutants” in their films, so they have to be explained by other means. In this case, “mutants” have been replaced with “experiments”, and I’m fine with that. What bothers me is the fact that Marvel has essentially killed off the chance of including Magneto (a big player on the X-Men scene) in the chance that Fox and Marvel do ever strike up a partnership.
/End Nerd Rant
What this film does deliver extremely well on, is action and outstanding CGI. If there isn’t a dynamic and frantic fight taking place, the scene is usually building towards the next one. Additionally, the film has implemented a lot more comedy, especially in comparison to the seriousness of the first film and the standard of other super hero films in general (the Dark Knight, Superman, etc). Both of these aspects can become a little repetitive, but don’t dramatically detract from the overall enjoyment of the movie.
On the whole, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a fun movie and definitely not a blemish on the franchise. Action, story and humour are abundant, but tend to be a little excessive and detract from the tone. I thought pulling away from the possibility of mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a mistake, but that’s a nerd problem, so if you don’t read comics, there really is still a lot to enjoy. There’s room to improve, but we’ll just have to wait until 2018 when Avengers: Infinity War comes out, to see if Marvel can create a record breaking block buster again!