“Can it be done?” That was pretty much the question on everyones mind back in 2012. Josh Whedon's “The Avengers” hit theaters and against all odds he delivered a little miracle. Of course as they say, the rest is history. The question now is “Can he do it again?” Is this sequel, “Age of Ultron” just as fresh and surprising as its predecessor? Is this second Avengers movie another little miracle or is the formula losing a bit of its power? Let's put on our suits and masks and fly right into the review.
Hydra is exposed! The remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers crackdown on the last of their strongholds. After successfully ending the mission, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) aka Iron Man finds a power source that could possibly fuel his Ultron (James Spader) project. Not realizing what he is meddling with, Stark unknowingly creates an artificial intelligence bent on the extinction of mankind. Now, as Ultron grows more powerful, The Avengers have to travel the globe and find a way to stop him before he can implement his “final solution”.
It's incredible to see how the Marvel cinematic universe has grown and matured. Where does “Age of Ultron” fit into all of this? Well, if this were a TV show, one might say it was a so called filler episode, or better yet a bridge because it's clear from little pieces of dialog, situations and events that they are setting things up for very big things to come. Without this film there would be no natural way to go into the stories of “Civil War” and “The infinity War”.
While this film is bigger in scope than its predecessor, It feels smaller, more intimate. We get to spend more time with the Avengers during their downtime. Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye is fleshed out considerably and he's definitely the heart of this movie. The rest of the cast is humanized as well. Just as the big action scenes are amazing, it is just as thrilling to see the cast in pain, struggling with their inner demons and the first hints of division between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Stark will be evident. Surprisingly enough it is James Spader and his portrayal of Ultron gives the film some levity. Not that he's a jokester but Spader performs his role with so much menace and sleaze that whenever he's on screen you can't help but smile. At first I had my hesitations about Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Quicksilver) but they got into their roles as the movie progressed. Paul Bettany (Vision) is a thing of beauty though and I can't wait to see how his character will be fleshed out.
Yes, this movie has some great characterization but this is The Avengers and not Downton Abby. The action set-pieces and visual effects are jaw dropping beautiful! It is almost unnecessary to discuss this but this one thing has to be said; If you think they hit their visual ceiling in the last Avengers movie, think again. There are some action scenes in Age of Ultron that will blow your mind! Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman's music score is great. Expanding on Alan Silvestri's main theme they create a fresh and epic sounding piece of work. If you listen carefully you can hear some familiar themes from earlier Marvel movies. Great cinematography too. It feels more grounded in reality this time around. This is so far the best looking and sounding Marvel movie to date.
On paper these Avengers movies shouldn't even work! Yet somehow Whedon and Co. always find the perfect balance between over the top action and character development. Does “Age of Ultron” offer anything new? No, not really. It misses that element of surprise that the first one gave us. That doesn't matter though. It gives us the time to get into the action and meat of the story without having to introduce us to these characters. “Age of Ultron” is a fine film! In some ways much better than it's predecessor. It doesn't only expand The Avengers but the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. See this one on a very big screen! Go see it now! Oh, and stay for the mid credits sequence.