Grosse Point Geek casts his geeky eye on the latest Marvel Release, Age Of Ultron.
Director: Joss Whedon
Actors: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johanssen, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, James Spader
After the Avengers successfully retrieve Loki’s missing sceptre from the evil clutches of H.Y.D.R.A. Tony Stark (Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner (Ruffalo) secretly use its powers to create the Ultron program – an advanced AI defence system that, once operational, will protect Earth from another Chitauri style hostile attack. Naturally the plan all goes pear shaped when the supposedly benign Ultron (Spader) wakes up, gets himself a host robot body and decides that the only true path to peace is the wholesale destruction of humanity and our heroes along with it.
When the Avengers was released in 2012 no one (including me) could quite believe how utterly brilliant it turned out to be. Well written, superbly directed , action packed, very funny in all the right places – so to say the least it did just about everything right.
So one would expect that any sequel featuring the original cast (plus a few additions) and a returning Joss Whedon to the directors chair would pretty much guarantee more of the same. Well – sort of.
Lets start with the positives. All of the cast are universally excellent (in particular Hemsworth’s Thor and Bettany’s Vision) all making good use of a sharp script and obligatory snappy one liners. The action scenes are also very well handled – specifically a cracking opening sequence that sees the entire team lay waste to a heavily guarded H.Y.D.R.A fortress and an awesome mid section dust up between Iron Man and a rampaging out of control Hulk. Finally Whedon’s direction is pretty much faultless and once again proves that he is one of the most exciting film makers working today.
However despite these good points and the fact that its head and shoulders above most films of its type – there were a number of issues that i had that cannot be ignored.
To begin with it simply isn’t as good or as fresh as the 2012 original – which is a surprise considering the pedigree behind the camera and the fact that 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians Of The Galaxy were so damned awesome. Not only that but even though Spader does very well as Ultron – he’s no Tom Hiddleston and as a result we have a gaping Loki sized hole in proceedings that is sorely missed throughout. The story is also achingly unoriginal (another kill all humans/destroy our heroes plot) that does little to further the universe that Marvel has flawlessly created thus far. There are also too many supporting characters and a couple of shoehorned in nods to future films in the MCU – most notably the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok -seemed very tacked on and somewhat unnecessary.
My biggest complaint however was with the final climactic battle that sees the team going tooth and nail with Ultron and his robot army.
Now i love to see a good old fashioned scrap but disappointingly what we got here was way too similar to the original’s Battle of New York – only very overblown, not as exciting and disappointingly showed that once again Marvel and Kevin Feige cant seem to end any of their recent films without a huge fight over a big city with thousands of innocents in peril – (check out the finales of The Winter Soldier, Thor: Dark World and Guardians Of The Galaxy for further proof).
Now upon reading the above review you could get the impression that i didn’t care much for this film – which isn’t true -as despite numerous faults i did enjoy a great deal of it and will definitely be purchasing the Blu Ray. Without doubt Marvel still firmly rules the roost and with an upcoming slate that features Black Panther, Dr Strange and a two part 3rd Avengers film, the future is still looking very bright indeed. I just hope that they go back to focusing more on originality and better story telling than just merrily throwing in the kitchen sink and blowing things up – time will tell.
Author: Will Strong