Robert Downey Jr.
Samuel L. Jackson
In 2012 “The Dark Knight Rises” was released and while it was good, it didn’t live up to its predecessor, “The Dark Knight.” “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is in a similar position.
In the sequel to the 2012 superhero team-up flick, the audience finds the Avengers group traveling the world, defeating the evil organization Hydra and searching for a powerful weapon the villain of the first film used. Upon retrieving said artifact, though, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., has a terrible vision caused by a new foe.
To prevent this prescience from becoming a reality, Stark decides to change the future and create an artificial intelligence system, called Ultron, to protect the Earth. His invention backfires, though, as Ultron deems humanity a threat and decides to take action, leaving it up to the Avengers to stop the mechanical menace.
The story of “Age of Ultron” is hampered by a rushed first act. There’s no doubt things get moving quickly with an action scene in the opening minutes. However, while this action segment is exciting, what follows could have definitely been better developed. Namely, the creation of Ultron. It’s soon discovered that Tony Stark and Dr. Bruce Banner, the alter ego of the Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo, have been developing Ultron for sometime.
The problem with this is it creates a bit of a disconnect. It’s as if we, as an audience, are dropped into something that has already been going on. This very important piece to the film’s overall plot should have been fleshed out more.
The film’s second act was a little rocky, too, with the character Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, going off on a sub-plot that seemed to serve only the purpose of setting up the next movie.
With that said, there were some really good moments of interaction in the first two acts of the film. For example, there are great dialogue scenes between Captain America, played by Chris Evans and Stark, as well as a moment where the team gets a visit from Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, that was on point.
As expected, the film also benefits from an exciting third act, too, with the action being well worth the price of admission.
The best part of the movie, of course, are the characters and seeing them all come together. The acting is strong all around for the lead cast, too, and the dialogue written for them show a group that has great interaction. Everyone feels very “at home” in this picture, which results in believable characters.
The best part of the movie is what it does with something new and fresh, and this, too, comes from the characters. Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner, for example, has a ton of development compared to the previous installment and has a very interesting background.
The same can be said about the relationship between Banner and Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson. While being a rather new aspect to the Marvel cinematic universe, it was a welcome romantic development.
Newcomers to the series, including James Spader as Ultron, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch did well in their roles, however, these characters could have used more development. Story issues aside, the performances were still strong. Spader gave a lot of personality to Ultron when it could have been dull and robotic and Johnson and Olsen had good chemistry when they were on screen.
One of the reasons to see a Marvel movie is for the action and this movie does indeed deliver. There are some very well-shot sequences that do pack a punch.
However, sadly, the novelty has worn off somewhat. Yes, the action is fast paced and exciting, but there was a lack of a “wow” factor that the original film had.
While being a good summer blockbuster, “Age of Ultron” doesn’t live up to the previous film from 2012. Compared to the 2014 Marvel releases, “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy,” this 2015 flick is actually weaker. It legitimately pains me to give it this score, but I can’t justify a 4 out of 5 rating. High 3 out of 5.
This review was first published in the 5/1/2015 edition of the Wahpeton Daily News