— Guest post by Wolff —
For the second Marvel-themed post this week I will be covering the first summer blockbuster of 2015; Avengers: Age of Ultron. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, it is the sequel to The Avengers and features most of the main characters from the previous Marvel movies with two additions: twins Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). This post will contain minor spoilers for the movie in the first two paragraphs.
The beginning of the film finds our heroes attacking a HYDRA stronghold in the Eastern European country of Sokovia in an attempt to regain control of the scepter used by Loki in The Avengers. Some time has passed since the previous film, and it is clear that the Avengers have become accustomed to working as a unit. The ploy for the scepter works, and the team flies off to celebrate finally being able to take a break. But there is trouble in paradise. While under control of the Scarlet Witch, Tony Stark (Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr.) had a vision of his worst fear realized: the total destruction of the Earth and everyone on it with a dying Captain Steve Rogers (Captain America, played by Chris Evans) telling him that he could have prevented it. This leads him to convince Dr. Bruce Banner (Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo) to use the scepter’s power to realize Ultron, Tony’s plan for a global defence system.
After days of trying, the two leave the system to work itself out to attend a celebration for the end of their mission to retrieve the scepter. Unfortunately while they are gone the algorithm finally works and creates a sentient A.I.: Ultron. Despite J.A.R.V.I.S.’s attempts to introduce Ultron to the world it decides, based on a quick skimming of the entire internet, that the only way to protect the Earth is to wipe out humanity. After dismantling J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany), Ultron goes after the Avengers, who are relaxing post-party. They defeat it, but it flies away with the promise of building a robotic army to take out the entire human race. The Avengers must now track down Ultron in order to prevent it from destroying the world, and after a disastrous first attempt, they must do it with no outside help.
Overall I feel this movie is not as strong as the first Avengers, it lets the action scenes take over a little too much to the point where the film starts to drag for me. Fortunately, in between the action sequences there is the same witty banter from the previous movie that we know and love which does a lot to ease the monotony of the fighting. Other than that, the film is decent; there’s some good character development and those that don’t develope aren’t changed exponentially. There have been complaints about what was done with Natasha Romanov (Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson), however I did not take major offence to her storyline. True it could have been handled better, but here is not the place for nit-picking.
Be warned, Whedon killed his trademark character in this movie, same as in The Avengers. There is also some interesting swapping of gender roles that is typical of Whedon as well, however I can’t discuss too much here without giving things away.
Even though I was not terribly impressed by the film as a whole, there was at least one standout scene for me, Steve’s vision when he was under the spell of the Scarlet Witch. The Scarlet Witch’s power allows her to enter the mind of whomever she chooses and cause them to have visions of their worst fear. All of the visions are handled well in my opinion, however what was done for Captain America really stood out. On the surface it appears that Captain Rogers is in a 1940’s dance hall with flashbulbs and rowdy inhabitants. However with the addition of subtle background rumbling to accompany the flashbulbs, and the positioning of some of the guests, the atmosphere is changed to one of a battlefield.
My final take is that it’s an enjoyable summer movie to go see with friends, a pretty typical blockbuster, and something that will keep Marvel fans satisfied until the next film comes out.
“You get hurt, hurt ’em back. You get killed…walk it off.”
— Guest post by Wolff —