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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Movie Review - Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, and James Spader
Directed by Joss Whedon

Back in 2012, everyone fell head over heels for The Avengers -- everyone except for me, that is.  I didn't dislike the film as my C+ review attests, but I found it overblown and a bit underwhelming with the action sequences working, but many of the dialog and character-driven moments disappointing.  Oddly enough, Avengers: Age of Ultron has just the opposite problem with its character-based scenes working surprisingly well and its action aspects sorely lacking.  Considering both films were written and directed by Joss Whedon, the contrasting differences are a bit startling and, as the rating below will attest, end up being about equal in terms of how I felt overall about the flick.

Once again, our Avenger crew bands together to fight something gigantically evil.  Rather than aliens, though, this time it's a form of advanced artificial intelligence that Iron Man Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) created in secret in order to try and assist should the world face another huge attack as occurred during the first film.  After a bit of a tête-á-tête about the necessity of AI to help, Tony, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) head out to find Ultron (James Spader), the AI that has created a robot body for himself and set out to destroy humanity with the help of two Russian twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) who want to bring down the Avengers due to an incident from their childhood caused by one of our fearless fighting crew that changed their lives forever.

Story-wise, I think the film is actually more successful than its predecessor.  I enjoyed the camaraderie between the heroic crew which I felt was sorely lacking in the first film as well as the deviousness of Ultron and the twins.  Knowing nothing about the comics upon which the films are based, Ultron was deliciously snide and humorously villainous.  Perhaps that isn't his demeanor in the comics, but on film, Spader voiced the character with such over-the-top charisma that I couldn't help but long for the character to appear again to liven things up.  Plus, I think it helped things that Ultron's villainous intentions stemmed from the chaos inflicted in the first film.

Unfortunately, the film's action set pieces just didn't work for me.  During the opening scene which includes slow motion AND seemingly sped up moments, I found myself vehemently annoyed, feeling as if I were watching a poorly conceived video game as opposed to a movie.  Fortunately, things got a little better after that, but I still went through the whole movie thinking that the action sequences felt less integral to the plot than nearly any other Marvel flick and were put into place simply because "we need an action scene now."  Whereas Whedon seemingly had control of these moments in the first Avengers, he disappointed here.

Overall, though, Avengers: Age of Ultron works.  The flick is briskly paced and despite disliking the more "intense" moments, I never found them overblown or overlong.  The interplay between the core group of Avengers is growing more natural and I'm oddly looking forward to what the Marvel Universe has in store for these characters.

The RyMickey Rating:  C+

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