When the first reviews came out, some people were worried it may not be as successful as the first movie.
While Avengers: Age of Ultron may be a small notch below Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s still a very good follow-up to the first movie.
In case you missed it, one of our other writers, Libya el-Amin, wrote a spoiler-free review of the movie after she saw it at the press conference a couple of weeks ago. This review has a few more details, but keeps the big details out. Fans should still head to theaters to see the whole story.
***** SPOILERS BELOW *****
The movie starts with a mission against HYDRA in Sekovia. Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) is there, along with Dr. List (Henry Goodman), our old friend from Agents of SHIELD. At the base are Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olson) and her twin brother Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who were used for experiments with the help of Loki’s scepter from the first Avengers movie. During the battle, the twins escape, and also tangle with the heroes. Wanda even does a little mind control on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), making him see a future that is a tragedy..and also his fault.
It seems Tony has a plan. He discovers the gem inside the scepter has a blueprint for an artificial intelligence that he and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) can use to create Ultron, a system that they believe can protect the world better than the Avengers.
During a party that kind of dragged down the movie too early (Thor in Hugo Boss, then daring anyone to lift his hammer? No thanks), Stark finds out he did succeed when Ulton emerges from old Iron Man parts. He immediately decides he doesn’t like the Avengers, and uses Tony’s Iron Bots against him.
Ultron basically steals the picture because it is about him, and his argument that he wants a better world without the Avengers…and anyone who is flesh and blood, eventually. He’s not so much evil as he has an opposing view, and that’s due to how James Spader plays the character. He makes a good case for his world, even though it doesn’t include people. It’s also interesting that he acts a lot like his creator, too. He soon gets the twins as allies, mainly because they have a grudge against Stark.
He’s also looking for Vibranium, Cap’s shield is made of it, but he has other ideas. He heads to Africa to meet with Klaue, a very unpleasant businessman. If you thought Andy Serkis was great in the Planet of the Apes movies, he’s also very good in this conventional role.
Wanda uses her mind control powers to give the heroes interesting dreams: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) recalling her training and graduation from the Red Room program, Captain America (Chris Evans) finally getting that dance he promised to someone, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finding himself in a strange place, that will also lead a to revelation.
Tony’s the only one who got a nightmare from Wanda, and it’s not a coincidence. His goal of making a world-changing invention that tops anything his dad did is the reason Ultron is born. It also doesn’t stop him from trying again. As he tells Banner, they’re mad scientists and they might as well own it.
However, the twins soon realize they don’t like what Ultron has in mind, although that comes a bit too quickly. Wanda’s character didn’t really develop until the final 30 minutes, but Pietro was more interesting. He was more comfortable with his super speed and how to use it.
Fans were surprised to see Banner and Black Widow start to have a relationship, but their story is really touching. Maybe we should have known this was a possibility when they first met in the first movie. They even talk about whether they have a future at all, considering his anger issues.
For those who thought she’d be with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), there’s a reason why that won’t happen. Her name is Laura (Linda Cardellini), and the crew hides out at her place to consider their next move. He also has more of a chance to shine in this movie, especially when he gives Wanda the choice of whether she wants to hide or fight.
Meanwhile, Ultron decides to go to the next step of evolution by creating his next self. He even uses Loki Mind Control on Dr. Cho (Claudia Kim) to make it happen. It eventually leads to the creation of The Vision, but how that job is completed is surprising. It’ll also connect with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Paul Bettany plays Vision as more than an upgraded Jarvis. He is someone with a point of view about existence. It’s a view that is the opposite of Ultron’s. He also does something in front of Thor that is a classic scene that makes the movie worth every cent. Joss Whedon had a tough job topping his first movie, as he has said in interviews over the past few days, but he succeeded here. He made sure the movie was more than some major battles. The fight between a scrambled Hulk and Stark’s Hulkbuster is the best, especially when Tony accuses Hulk of fighting dirty. There’s also the quiet moments between the heroes, showing that they are still human. It was Joss’ toughest job, and he did it well.
We also see familiar faces, including one that apparently will stick around for a while, and hints about Phase Three including Civil War next year (aka Avengers 2.5). That’s also evident in the final end credit scene, which is pretty short, but still says a lot. The audience at the IMAX theater where I saw the movie was sad that, as Joss said, there was no scene after the credits ended.
Of course, there is the Stan Lee cameo that lasted a bit longer, with the word, “Excelsior”.
Age of Ultron gets 3 1/3 stars out of four. Again, that party scene was a bit strange, and one rescue was a bit too convenient. Otherwise, it should more than double its 200 million dollar take from overseas easily, and make a billion dollars overall.
It should be interesting what scenes were left out of the final cut, and what the alternate ending was. We’re likely to find out when the blu-ray is released sometime in the fall.
By the way, the theater had an interesting clip trailer for Tomorrowland, where Britt Robertson’s character pulls an Arya Stark move to get into George Clooney’s house, followed by soldiers also trying to get inside. The crowd, though, was most excited when they saw the Star Wars trailer.