The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) [Review]

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Fan Made Poster Print – Available At Society 6 by Marclafon

When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.

For a while now I have been slowly trundling my way through the Marvel films, but I am not an avid fan of them. I enjoy them, a lot, they are great movies, but I don’t go moist when they release a new trailer and nor I have I read any of the comics. I have a difficulty in watching films involving any element of fantasy, it is why I have not started Game of Thrones, why I have not finished Lord of the Rings, and it evolves to the extent that I got in a rather stupidly heated discussion about which Avenger is the least plausible if based in reality. The answer should be all of them, I was insistent on Thor, and most I have spoken to agree with Hulk. Similarly, these films end up in a Transformers style chaos in the final third, smashing everything in sight, in an incoherent mess. Regardless of how fun they are I usually have some kind of beef with them. Here was my less than enthusiastic predictions for the film without reading anything about it;

While my prediction on the whole was quite accurate, I was pleasantly surprised with the film overall. For me, I would argue it was the best thing they have done since Iron Man, and far better than the first Avengers film. This tone is set right from the beginning, as we see our hero clan tearing up the place in gorgeous, well choreographed slow motion through a forest, each given their time to shine as they remind us why we like them so much.

Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) smashes, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) quips and flies about, Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) double team with their shield and hammer in a Tag-Team-type maneuver wiping out everyone in their path. Hawk-eye (Jeremy Renner) just fires off arrows to any thing that moves, and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) proves you don’t need a giant metal suit to be dangerous.

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Injected into this scene is their typical ongoing back-and-forth with a smugness only The Avengers can pull off. With their little earpieces which should really be used for co-coordinating the attack, they instead ridicule each other (Mainly Capt. America) in a state of seeming obliviousness to what is happening around them. It’s excellent to watch, it adds a charm to the proceedings and is an attribute I have come to expect from the Avengers films. It’s great this has not been lost.

With so many characters, Writer/Director Joss Whedon is spoiled for choice as to who he gives the spotlight too. I was happy that some of the lesser known characters were given more time, and that he tried to do something different with the love story tangent underpinning two of our Avengers. Combine these personal elements, with the overall aim of beating the bad guy (Ultron), it can be a difficult task to juggle and can become over-complicated. While it happened on occasion, you never felt lost, and it was never enough to detract from the overall fun of the film, partly assisted by their ongoing comedic exchanges during their ‘down-time’ and the traumatising flashbacks created by Scarlett Witch. These slight reprieves gave a welcomed break to the eye-watering action, reduced the intensity of the overall movie, and like a horror movie dupes its audience in a sense of security before attacking unannounced, it allowed the dark forces at work to cause mayhem when the Avengers and the audience were completely unprepared.

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The new additions to this film are great; the evil Terminator styled ‘Ultron’ voiced by James Spader who is hellbent on saving or destroying the world as he flip-flops between which definition he chooses to use. Just as sarcastic as Iron Man, this artificial intelligence is Tony Stark turned up to 11 in an unbearable, unlikable cocky way. Helping him out are ‘The Twins’ consisting of ‘weird’ Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) sporting a dubious Eastern European accent as she controls things with her red eyes, and ‘Fast’ Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) who just runs fast to the point of being blurred. All of them have a score to settle, but we aren’t made to sit through a 30 minute flashback sob story. Keeping in tune with the majority of the film, we jump right into it and put them to work. There’s an additional character introduced, but the surprise is worth it.

The conflicts between all of our characters spills out into a ‘how will we get along, we’re all so different?‘ type of story-line, with the enemy gaining strength and in a team full of egos as big as theirs it was obvious and predictable that this would happen. But this provides some of the best moments, when we see Iron Man bring out the Hulk Buster, and their brief scuffles based off their alternative views on how best to destroy Ultron; we wonder if they will ever come together, if the evil guys will ever get their comeuppance, and if anyone will ever be able to pick up Thor’s hammer.

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Entering the final third, so much as happened I feel like I have slipped out of my skeptical trance of wanting everything to be just a little bit plausible. I prepared myself for the absolute mayhem that was about to ensue, but as things began to escalate, I felt reassured by Hawkeye, in a single line that sums up the entire franchise perfectly;

“The city’s flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, I have a bow and arrow… none of it makes sense…”

Nonsensical fun is exactly how I would describe it, and once you let yourself go to it all, regardless of whether you like superheroes or not, it’s hard not to be entertained. The action so far had been excellent and sporadic, well-coordinated and effective. This was the case moving into the final third and although what was happening was absolutely insane, with so many moving parts, this intense sequence of events was somehow digestible. Whether it was because of the small pieces of slow-motion thrown into the mix, or that we actually spent some time with each character as they bashed stuff up rather than a million hard cuts to keep us on our toes, we were given time to enjoy it. This apocalyptic face off that crowns almost every Marvel film was a joy to watch – and that’s not just because I was sat in the best seats of the IMAX observing in 3D (A feature I’m still not entirely sold on), it’s because it was fun and easy to follow.

The Avengers still requires some tweaks; I can see why the action could be heavy for some, the personal story-lines could do with more time to develop, they could tone down the shit-eating smugness a notch, and have more of the downtime exchanges. These characters are at their best when they are allowed to be a little bit human, but with this many characters and so much to tell, it is a mammoth task that is not easy to achieve. Even at a running time of 140 minutes and 40 minutes of cut scenes due to come out on the blu-ray, in context, what was presented on-screen is a huge accomplishment.

A hell of a lot of fun, and highly recommended – 9/10

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