A month later, my sister called to tell me my friend had died. The last time he ever saw me, I was dressed head to foot as Spider-Man, and one of the last things he ever said to me was that he was really looking forward to seeing the Avengers sequel.
So I’m writing this review to let him know what I thought of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The movie starts strong. For a recent Marvel movie, it’s a change of pace to see the title characters in costume and diving straight into action from the first scene. Immediately you’re given a sense that the Avengers have had time to build a rapport with each other, and also a taste of the action and humour that the rest of the movie delivers.
It’s solid. Just about everything that was positive about the original remains here. But its disadvantage lies in the fact that it follows very similar story beats to the original as well. The plot feels like it carries lower stakes than the original, and I think this is largely because of Ultron. While Ultron is an entertaining villain, both capable of being imposing and funny, I feel like we’ve already had a sassy, charismatic foe for the Avengers in Loki.
Ultron isn’t bad as a villain, but I feel like the movie could have stood out more if they’d taken him in a different direction and played him more straight. In most of The Avengers’ confrontations with him, Ultron seems easily pushed back – it made sense for Loki to be easily beaten one on one in the original because he was all brains and no brawn, but I feel like Ultron should have been a double threat in that regard. He needed more muscle and less sass to make his presence more unique.
His motivation is quite generic and never really seems all that believable, although aesthetically his design is pretty cool. The movie missed an opportunity to include character development in Tony, since one plot thread is the fact that Ultron was created by Stark, but this isn’t really explored too heavily. It seems like his reasoning for creating a machine to fight for him could have been tied into the trauma he felt, depicted in Iron Man 3, following his role in the first Avengers film. But as is, the movie doesn’t work particularly hard to give him a convincing justification for his choices.
The movie’s also too long. Not so long that it becomes boring, but just enough so that it loses some punch by the end. It probably would have helped to trim some of the subplots, although it’s tough to know which ones, because the ones that are there are all good. And yes, the fight between The fight between Hulk and Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armour is as cool as the trailer makes it seem and more.
With all that said, you loved the first one, so you’d probably love this one too. It’s not quite as good as the original, but it has quite a large shadow to stand in. The worst thing about the movie was that you weren’t there to watch it with me.