Superhero films seemingly come out every month, but over the past seven years none have built an empire as big as that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' is now the eleventh film in this series. It's starting to seem like with age, the films get better, or, at the very least, keep the same level of quality that Marvel has enjoyed over this ride. Even the weaker films in the series, such as 'Iron Man 2' and 'Thor: The Dark World' are well worth at least one go around. Then you have films like 'Iron Man' and 'Captain America: The Winter Solider' which are a under shadowed because they'll be compared to the two Avengers films we now have. Finally, we get to those Avengers films I just mentioned. 'The Avengers' was a blast and I saw it a few times in theaters opening weekend in 2012. With the universe expanding ever since, 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' was looking to be another capable sequel. It's a good follow-up to last years Captain America sequel and the smash hit that 'Guardians of the Galaxy' turned into. It's also a good way to (basically) close out Phase Two of Marvel's superhero film plan. 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' isn't going to be received as well as the first film, but it does show that Marvel is starting to at least get a little more serious with it's films, and that's a good thing.
'Avengers: Age of Ultron' takes place after the events of 'The Avengers,' 'Iron Man 3,' 'Thor: The Dark World' and 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier.' The Avengers -- Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton (Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Rinner) -- raid a Hydra outpost under the control of Wolfgang von Strucker, where they have Loki's scepter and also twins, Pierto and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) aka Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch. Pierto has superhuman speed, while Wanda can manipulate minds and control energy blasts. The team captures Strucker, while Stark gets the scepter. Stark and Banner discover that the stone in Loki's scepter has artificial intelligence and the two use it to make Stark's "Ultron" defense program. Out of nowhere, Ultron (James Spader) becomes sentient, believes it must destroy the world, to cleanse it, and kills J.A.R.V.I.S. Ultron proceeds to attack The Avengers during a party at Avengers Tower, while they celebrating the successful mission. The team begins to then search for Ultron, while Ultron is building an army of robot drones. This leads to one of many confrontations between The Avengers and earth's latest threat, Ultron. The group must band together, despite the hopeless looking scenario and personal inner turmoil, in order to save earth from destruction once again.
This film was two hours and twenty minutes and to me, it flew by. Nonetheless, this is a daunting film for those not "into" the superhero genre or question the quality of the films being put out as of late. I really did enjoy the film and want to give it another watch, because I know I probably missed things. I'm going to try to avoid comparing it to the first film as much as possible, because it really is quite a different feel to it after all the events of Phase Two that have happened. I liked the story overall and it really felt more real, though in the same vein as all of Marvel's previous films. The structure is largely the same, but the content is vastly improving. The humor is there, bur a lot more limited and when used works well. The emotion, especially a few moments during the final act, are unexpected and done well too. Ultron felt like a much bigger threat than the Mandrin, the Winter Soldier or Malekith and that adds a lot to the film. While a lot of the time it seems like Ultron is figuring the whole "villain" thing out, there's no doubt his powers are formidable and his overall plan is maniacal. We also have the first bit of adversity that The Avengers, as a whole, experience. Getting to see them work though some adversity, in what would otherwise be a "normal day going to fight Ultron," is another reason why the overall story and writing has improved.
We get more good performances out of the main cast. Spader was tremendous as the voice of Ultron and it really lent to the overall feel that he was a legitimate bad guy. I liked Hemsworth's Thor in a film like this, because a feature film of Thor is hard to pull off without the aid of Hiddleston as Loki. In The Avengers, Thor doesn't have to have the burden of being the main guy and can become better suited for his "time to shine" moments. Renner as Hawkeye was another good role to me. He was really a sixth man to the team in the first film, whereas now he's an unsung hero, with a frankly, surprising element to his life that added depth to his one-note character. Evans is fitting into his role as Captain America better and better each film, Johansson as Black Widow is still pretty good, Ruffalo's Hulk film (he'd better get one) can't come fast enough and Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is still a blast. The two newcomers, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as the Maximoff Twins are really good as well. Johnson, while not having the eye-popping Quicksliver scene Evan Peters had in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past,' had a much better role in the film as a whole. On the flip side, Olsen as Scarlet Witch was awesome and I really loved the way they took her powers and translated them to the screen. The Vision is also introduced, I liked him, but I don't want to talk much about him, cause I went in not even knowing he was going to be in the film. Cameos of Don Cheadle as War Machine, Anthony Mackie as Falcon, Cobie Smudlers as Maria Hill and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury were awesome and they all even had major moments in the film. There's a litany of other cameos, characters and references to previous films, but I really don't want to spoil all the surprises in this.
The action is a huge part of any superhero film and 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' has some of the best bits of it to date. Now don't get me wrong, the hand to hand combat of the 'Captain America' films and the technology wars in the 'Iron Man' films are awesome, but The Avengers films always take it all to the next level. This is because in battles we get to see The Avengers combining their powers in unique ways to tear through the hordes of bad guys and robots..or each other. Whether it's Thor smashing his hammer against Captain America's shield or the wicked awesome fight between Stark's "Hulkbuster" suit and a rampaging Hulk, the fights just seem bigger. The CGI to go along with the majority of these fights is spot on. If there's green-screen being used, and let's be honest, there is, at this point I'm barely noticing it. Iron Man flies effortlessly across the screen, Hulk's skin looks about as rough as the side of a mountain and Scarlet Witch's energy blasts are amazing. I also like the fact that the fights in cities mean something, it's not just the destruction of a city, a bunch of people's deaths are implied and we move on. Iron Man and Hulk's fight levels part of a city and we're shown hurt people and people effected by what was going on. In the final act, the team needs to evacuate a whole city, in the process we are shown people in fear, escaping and genuinely concerned for their well being. I like that everyone is affected by what's happening, not just the people fighting to stop more bad from happening. (Looking at you 'Man of Steel.')
'Avengers: Age of Ultron' is the "start" of the summer film season and once again Marvel has put out a really good and fun film. While it might not have all the charm and impact 'The Avengers' had, 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' improves in a quite a few ways. The characters have grown, the action is bigger, the story is nice, the villain is good and like all Marvel films, it keeps setting up for more action down the line. We even get our annual Stan Lee cameo. We he ever have a bad Marvel cameo? If you're a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you're gonna go see this film. If you're new to the genre, I'd suggest seeing at least 'The Avengers,' 'Iron Man 3' and 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' before this one. Because at this point, with the MCU, you'll need to start seeing most of whole picture, not just bits and pieces of it. Nevertheless, 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' is quite worth the watch and is probably the best big budget film of the year so far.