"Age of Ultron" falls short

May 8, 2015, 4:55 p.m. | By Neida Mbuia Joao | 7 years, 6 months ago

"Age of Ultron" is plenty of fun, but doesn't stand up to it the first "Avengers" film

"Avengers: Age of Utron" may be full of the same explosions, special effects and snappy one-liners that turned it's 2012 predecessor into a hit, but it's no follow up to the Avengers film that had audiences hooked. Though "Ultron" benefits from the engaging action sequences with the sprinkling of humor that enchanted us in the first film, its villain never seems to present itself as a formidable enough threat. But despite the iffy character and plot development, "Age of Ultron" is an entertaining addition to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that leaves the viewer waiting to see what else Marvel has to offer these beloved characters.

"Avengers: Age of Ultron" brings together Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in their second film adventure together. They face Ultron (voiced by James Spader), an artificial intelligence program created by Tony Stark to restore peace. He almost immediately goes rogue, becoming a rage-filled psychopathic intelligence bent on restoring peace by annihilating all humans. While trying to eliminate Ultron, the Avengers encounter orphaned Eastern European twins Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) Maximoff, also known as Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver respectively, who both have mysterious mutant powers.

The film is a satisfying reunion of characters the audience knows and love. Director and writer Joss Whedon's screenplay allows the team to come together and have even more fun than they did in their previous outing as the characters are more familiar and comfortable with each other. The actors, who seem to be well acquainted with each other and the characters they've been playing for the past five years, also shine. Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man was especially outstanding as Tony Stark is essentially thrust to the forefront of the plot. Downey, Jr. does a great job of giving the audience the Iron Man they know and love: a cocky, genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist.

The characters are familiar and so is the basic formula the film follows: Avengers goof around at the beginning, villain threatening the future of the planet presents itself, Avengers assemble, Avengers kick butt. It's a formula that's worked before and it works again. The basic structure of the plot is solid and makes for a really entertaining, if predictable, watch. The action sequences in the film are also fun to watch and though the CGI used to create them is quite gratuitous, they are believable enough.

The problem with this movie is that it strangely feels like nothing more than an interlude. There are fundamental issues with the narrative that make the film feel like it's just a bridge to get its characters to other more substantial stories within the MCU. There's a lot of set up in this film, a lot of hint dropping and loose ends left untied that are ostensibly meant to be tied up in other Marvel movies, causing "Ultron"'s narrative structure to suffer

Another problem is the screenplay. The quips and humor are fun enough, but the pacing and characterization are all off. A few of the main characters, namely Hawkeye, Bruce Banner (Hulk) and Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), act in ways that their 50-plus year old characters never would. There's never any justification for this shift in characterization and as a result it just feels unnatural.

Photo: Ultron does not measure up to previous Marvel villains  Photo courtesy of Never Daunted.

Ultron's characterization is also strange. Ultron, is creepy and menacing, but his motivations and intentions are never fully clarified. He almost seems like nothing more than a nuisance, a flea that the Avengers must flick off their shoulder on their way to bigger and better things. He's never very threatening and because of that it's hard to get invested in the action of the film.

These problems aren't enough to render the film wholly unwatchable though. For fans of the first "Avengers" and of comic book movies in general, "Ultron" is a fun and enjoyable watch. It sets up a lot of plot points that will probably be featured in future MCU movies, and for that reason "Age of Ultron" could be considered required viewing.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Tags: marvel Robert Downey, Jr. The Avengers Mark Ruffalo Scarlett Johansson Aaron Taylor-Johnson Chris Evans Chris Hemsworth Elizabeth Olsen James Spader Joss Whedon

Neida Mbuia Joao. Welcome to SCO! I'm Neida (pronounced Neigh-duh) and I'm the online opinion editor for the site. My favorite pass-times include snacking, reading super dense novels and watching lots of television. Clearly I'm on track to become a vegetable. If so I'd like to be a … More »

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