The Avengers: Age of Ultron, written and directed by Joss Whedon. Copyright 2015: seen May 4, 2015.
Attention: thar’ be spoilers in this review. Do not read if you don’t want parts of the plot revealed.
My main question when the end credits rolled on The Avengers: Age of Ultron was … did Whedon not *see* any of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that happened between the first Avengers and this one? Overall, the movie wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. It *feels* like a sequel, and just seems to be the MCU’s version of struggling through the mud to get to the next stop.
Age of Ultron starts off mid-story, with the Avengers team in an eastern European country, storming a Hydra base. They run into the twins Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) & the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and steal a piece of technology that Tony Stark is eager to try out. But, as is the case with such technology, it ends up causing more harm than good, and the plot goes from there.
As I saw NPR comment, AOU feels out of sync with the other Marvel movies that have come out since the first movie. Most of the characterization that has been happening in those other movies seems to have disappeared. (I was *really* hoping for at least a passing note between Black Widow and/or Captain America and Hawkeye that explained away why he wasn’t in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.) As others have noted, the character of Black Widow (aka Natasha Romanoff) is vastly different from what we saw of her not only in the prior Avengers movie, but especially in Winter Soldier. I also agree with many of the reviews I read that the relationship between Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) seems to come out of nowhere, especially with the chemistry she has with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) or even Captain America (although I *really* enjoyed that those two interacted without a romance subplot in Winter Soldier). And don’t get me on the soapbox about the ‘sterilizing yourself so as to not have children = monster’ moral: as a childfree by choice person, it would’ve been nice to have Natasha’s response to Banner’s note about being sterile more along the lines of, “What makes you think I *want* kids?”
The movie has way too many characters for its length, and introduces several new ones rather than bring back current significant others. (And really: if Whedon needed a ‘beauty and the beast’ metaphor for the Hulk, couldn’t he have brought in, I don’t know, Betty Ross since he was so keen to bring in new characters?) Whedon’s humor, which is normally a selling point, is actually a detraction, as he recycles many of the jokes he’s already used in Firefly and the first Avengers. The movie is action-packed, true – but to the detriment of the plot: there doesn’t seem to be much of a storyline, and it’s the standard ‘AI becomes sentient and decides that the only way to give humanity peace is to kill us all’ plot. Most of the action scenes seem to be action for action’s sake rather than advancing the movie.
While not the worst of the MCU movies, Age of Ultron isn’t exactly up to par with the first Avengers. It’s all fluff with no meat, which I guess is okay for a summer blockbuster, but for Whedon, who I am a fan of, I expected far greater.