Film Reviews

Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
Avengers: Age of Ultron

Title: Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote: "William Faulkner could write an exhaust pipe gag that would really make you think."

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three-and-a-half Emma Peels out of five


Brief Plot Synopsis: Earth's mightiest heroes fight Steff from Pretty in Pink.

Tagline: "A new age begins."

Better Tagline: "Avengers, dissemble."

Is There a Post-Credits Sequence? Does a bear ... sorry. There's a mid-credits sequence, and I assume one after the full credits, but we didn't see it in the press screening.

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: After the events of The Avengers and the intervening movies (Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark Redundancy), Earth's various mightiest heroes are working together more or less as a team to eliminate the remnants of Hydra. But when Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) uses Loki's scepter to help kickstart his planned global defense system, well, you've seen the trailers. The result is Ultron (James Spader), who decides Stark's "path to peace" can only be completed by exterminating humanity.

"Critical" Analysis: Avengers: Age of Ultron delivers just about everything you'd expect from a sequel to the most successful superhero movie of all time. i.e. more punch/shoot/smash, only louder. The threat, in a general sense, is the same as the first movie (kill/enslave all humans), but somehow Age of Ultron feels bigger, more epic. And give credit to writer/director Joss Whedon, there is some great dialogue, one or two running gags ("Language.") that pan out nicely, and even better characterization than the first movie. No small feat, considering the number of principals (plus the new ones).

These new kids — Wanda "Scarlet Witch" (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro "Quicksilver" Maximoff (Aaron-Taylor Johnson) — have decent chemistry and are believable as twins who've come to rely on each other through life and death. Wanda, with her mind control and telekinetic powers, probably demonstrates her acumen a little more effectively, incapacitating almost the entire team during an early mission set in the fictional African country of Wakanda.

Which reminds me, for better or worse (it's worse), there's a notable effort to tie in to Marvel's future films that we didn't see as much in the original Avengers. Wakanda (and characters therein, no spoilers) will reappear in Black Panther, while tensions between Stark and Steve "Captain America" Rogers (Chris Evans) set the table for for CA: Civil War (which I'm still disappointed won't be about Cap going back in time and single-handedly winning the Battle of Gettysburg). Where Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) ends up at the end of A:AoU will also doubtless lead into his next solo movie. Finally, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) experiences some mystical visions while under Wanda's power. And thus, Thor: Ragnarok. Maybe then he'll get interesting.

There's the problem with the God of Thunder: of all the Avengers, Hemsworth is the one who *looks* most like a superhero, but JESUS is his character boring.

And after five movies, I'm about done with RDJ. Certainly his antagonism helps offset Cap's sunny disposition and Thor's lunkheadedness, but here more than in any other movie he moves past "personal differences" into borderline villainy: it's his decision to hold on to Loki's scepter and muck around with the Infinity Stone within that creates Ultron, and his continued harassing of Banner makes both of them look bad (Banner, because he goes along with everything Stark proposes). Signing Robert Downey, Jr to the role may have been the most perfect casting decision in comic movie history, but enough is enough.

I found the robo-psychotic Ultron hilarious (his reaction to accidentally amputating someone's arm is outstanding), not that there should have been any doubts about which way the character was going when Spader was cast. And the much ballyhooed Hulk/Iron Man bout is almost worth the ticket price alone. About the only unexpected angle concerns Clint "Hawkeye" Barton (Jeremy Renner). And all I'll say about that is Whedon knows exactly what you think of him, and I suspect the anticipation of screwing around with those expectations is what sustains him through production meetings and press tours.

There's a definite sense of moving on at the end of the movie. New characters, Avengers reassembling, and the final chapters of most of the original cast members already here (Iron Man 3) or coming soon. Avengers: Age of Ultron is a hell of a lot of fun, and you should enjoy it, because I have a feeling the winning streak is coming to an end.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar