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AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is a fun mess of a superhero film…

Posted on May 1st, 2015
Posted on May 1st, 2015

by Coop Cooper

The Avengers, now a full-fledged cooperative team, assaults the base of the evil Hydra scientist Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) and discovers he has been experimenting with alien technology. Worried that another alien invasion could catch the world off guard, Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce “Hulk” Banner (Mark Ruffalo), create Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a super-intelligent computer program designed to strategize and out think any adversary. Apparently neither scientist has seen a “Terminator” movie because Ultron immediately revolts and builds a robot army with the intent on wiping out humanity. Ultron is aided by the super-powered twins, Wanda “The Scarlet Witch” (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro “Quicksilver” Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who have a personal grudge against Tony Stark.

Along the way we learn Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) has been keeping a happy secret from the rest of the team, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Banner are at the beginnings of a romantic relationship, Captain America (Chris Evans) still grieves for Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and his fallen comrades and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) suspects the secret behind Ultron’s power source may be an indication of larger, cosmic threat.

This film is a bit of a mess, but in true Marvel fashion, it’s a fun one. With so many characters and a convoluted plot, it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on and who is doing what for what reason. This film uses the kitchen sink approach to entertainment and is much busier than the last “Avengers” film, which is saying a lot. Regardless, character development is one of the film’s strong points with all main characters getting their due except for Captain America and Thor who most recently had their own standalone films. Ultron gets a hasty introduction and turns bad without questioning much but James Spader’s voice gives him a menacing, yet compelling personality that is far more interesting than an emotionless Terminator. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) gets to spout his usual grandstanding motivational speeches but little else. Quicksilver isn’t given much of a personality, nor do I feel he was used to best of his potential. The choices made for his character were odd, especially considering the same character was introduced in the last “X-Men” movie played by a different actor and was much better utilized. It’s a shame when a TV show like “The Flash” or a competing franchise like “X-Men” has figured out better ways to show a superhero running super-fast than the pinnacle film franchise of the genre.

This film also marks the introduction of Vision (Paul Bettany), the heroic android who is a product of Ultron’s intelligence and the personality of Tony Stark’s computer assistant ‘Jarvis’ who has been voiced by Bettany since the first “Iron Man” movie. Vision has always been one of the strangest Avengers and the film reflects that but he comes in so late to the story that he gets almost no chance at development. Hopefully in the next film he will display a bit more of Jarvis’s dry wit and form a strong bond with Scarlet Witch who is destined to become his wife as in the comics.

What’s to love: 1. Black Widow’s lion-taming routine with the Hulk to get him to calk down after a fight. 2. James “War Machine” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) being the comic relief for once and having some of the best funny lines in the film. 3. Scarlet Witch’s creepy and powerful abilities, especially the way she moves when she uses them. 4. Hawkeye’s refusal to once again be mind-controlled and his secret ‘safe house’. 5. The Iron Man vs. Hulk scene was easily the most fun sequence in the entire movie. 6. How Iron Man has his “Hulk-Buster” armor delivered (from orbit!). 7. The payoff of how “only the worthy” can pick up Thor’s hammer. 8. The Hulk’s alarmingly clear decision making in the end.

What needs more work: 1. The overblown, impractically large plots. 2. This is the third film in which the cosmic arch-villain ‘Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) has been teased, but not used as an active character. 3. The absence of Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) leaves a void in the heart of the story. 4. Black Panther’s arch-villain Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) is introduced in a fun scene but it felt like an inadequate tie-in for the upcoming “Black Panther” movie. 5. Failing to use Sam “Falcon” Wilson (Anthony Mackie) in a meaningful way after nearly stealing the show in “Captain America 2” felt like a big slight.

The bottom line: It’s an “Avengers” movie and as usual, it’s a gas. Hopefully future sequels can handle the constant additions of characters and simplify the plots. Next up for Marvel is “Ant-Man” in July, who won’t be joining the Avengers anytime soon due to a case of ‘too-many-characters’. “Captain America: Civil War” in May 2016 will introduce a darker chapter to the Avengers storyline and “Doctor Strange” starring Benedict Cumberbatch will arrive in November that same year. As a team, the Avengers as a won’t return until 2018 with “Avengers: Infinity War Part 1” this time fighting against Thanos (finally).

4 out of 5 stars

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