Avengers: Age of Ultron

"A new age begins"

Hello everyone, welcome to the Tagline once again! Today, I will finally make good, and review that massive action blockbuster, that you already no doubt have seen, but I'm going to review it anyway, just try and stop me. Picking up chronologically after Thor 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron opens with the Avengers assaulting a Hydra base, one of many they've attacked while searching for the scepter that Loki used in the first Avengers movie. If you remember from the end of Winter Soldier (or if you had missed out here's a little recap) the scepter had fallen into the hands of a Hydra-ish bad guy with a menacing accent and I think a monocle? I feel like there was definitely a monocle involved. Anyway, that guy is studying the scepter and playing babysitter to the Maximoff twins (that's Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) when the Avengers come knocking, with like Thor's hammer and stuff. After recovering the staff (because of course they would) Tony Stark and Bruce Banner discover an AI that they try to use to resurrect the Ultron program, a peacekeeping robot program that was supposed to act as a security system for the whole planet. This goes immediately south of the border, as Ultron needs all of 10 minutes alone with the internet to determine that the entire human race needs to be eradicated.

Whosoever pulleth this hammer from the coffee table
shall be king of all Asgard.
So with the stage set for a super confused robot to destroy the world for ambiguous reasons that even he doesn't seem sure of. Of course he has the help of some disgruntled superbeings in the Maximoff twins, particularly Scarlet Witch messing with everyone's minds in order to get the Avengers fighting each other. Admittedly it doesn't take much for that plan to really gain some traction, particularly because the entire crisis was caused by existing communication issues. This brings me to problem number one that exists within this movie: It sort of hits the reset button on most of the characters development, or at least that's kind of how it feels. Admittedly, the group was sort of slapped together in the first Avengers, but they go to pieces and are at each other's throats with the drop of a hat and some subtle encouragement. Cap and Iron Man are back to fighting about who loves freedom the most or... whatever, Hulk is scared of being too much of a Hulk, Thor acts like he's better than everyone, and Black Widow is sad that she murdered a lot of people. The major difference comes from Hawkeye, who in place of being brain fried in the last film is instead the only stable member of the group. That was actually really nice, considering that he was forced to essentially sit out roughly 2/3rds of the first Avengers movie.

Oh I forgot the Vision. Guys there was this
vision and he used the hammer.
So okay, the above oversimplifies the characters, but I felt like some of their behavior occurred largely for the convenience of the plot. I thought that the romance subplot between Bruce Banner and Black Widow sort of came out of nowhere. There was admittedly never any real on-screen time together except some brief interactions in the first movie (when he was recruited for instance), but that's sort of the problem. Age of Ultron starts and its like "Hey! Look at that these really obvious romantic overtones between these two characters!" I think the sub-plot worked for the movie, but it could've been more subtle. There are also other elements of the plot that felt like a rehash, a little bit like the movie was just playing by the book it penned with Avengers. Open with a scene of action, involving a glowy blue artifact, have someone get their head messed with, introduce bickering while nefarious bad guy unfurls his master plan, leading up to a big battle... the resemblance was more than passing.

All of these things aside, I don't want you to think that I didn't like Age of Ultron, or that I thought it was a bad movie. I did like it, and I was still pretty impressed with it, all flaws aside. Making a movie with this many leading characters work is tough, and for all its production value and flash, you can really feel the craft and effort that Joss Whedon and the many, many others put into its creation. It advances the overarching Marvel plot, sets up future movies, and does so with heart and of course a sense of humor. The fact of the matter is that even if this movie had been AS original and inventive as Avengers, it would not have been as impressive, because we've already been there. I'm still sort of impressed that the Marvel movie universe has managed to go this long without punting one of these movies, and I'm interested to see if they can pull off Civil War, a storyline that went over kind of rough even in comic form.

I'd be remiss too if I didn't mention how badly you can tell Joss Whedon wanted to kill Hawkeye. He wanted to kill Hawkeye, have his family find out, and then kill all of them too. He wanted to have Hawkeye's ghost watch. If this were 2006, they would have all died in explosive, creative ways. At the very least, he managed to stay true to himself by tormenting characters on screen romantically, which I suppose will have to do this time. I was sort of sad that Falcon and War Machine didn't get more on screen time and respect, but I imagine one or both of them probably will in Civil War, and I'm looking forward to that.

That's it for now folks! Join me next week for possibly furious roads!

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