“Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015)
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments
Runtime: 2 hours, 21 minutes
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
My spoiler-free review:
This is the “Empire Strikes Back” (1980) of superhero movies… a blockbuster action sequel that holds its own with the original, our heroes are in peril, they are being tested like never before, facing a grave threat, the team and individuals are being tested while the team is being pulled apart.
I give it 9.5 out of 10 … putting it in a tie with the first team up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU): “The Avengers” (2012).
Warning for parents: there is a lot of action and some offensive language… which Captain America tries to discourage.
Super Team … the movie wastes no time getting into the action, picking up a story line that started in the Agents of SHIELD television show this week. The opening scene showcases all 6 of the main Avengers roster doing what they do best: flying, smashing, shocking, shooting, jumping, throwing, etc. They are the Avengers but the only time they’ve really acted like a team was during the Chitauri alien invasion on New York during the 2012 film…. now with an even more formidable foe, can they truly team up to protect Earth from destruction? There is an undercurrent of disagreement between all of these alphas – they are heroes used to working alone and have a problem when someone else tries to lead or has a different opinion… but this friction is a battle for a future film.
The roster of main characters is huge: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Hawkeye, War Machine, Falcon, Nick Fury, and Maria Hill plus Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, The Vision, and some cameos from characters that appeared in previous MCU movies.
Not just action… In addition to the team up… the movie combines the action and humor we’ve come to enjoy from the Marvel cinematic universe, I think that Director/Writer Joss Whedon actually takes it up a notch with the humor and definitely has a lot more action. Whedon also added a romantic entanglement, lots of questionable decision-making, concerns of legacy for some heroes, the ominous interstellar threats. He was also able to showcase the plethora of characters in such a crowded film… and it works so well. There’s plenty of Stark, Rogers, Banner, and Thor… more of Barton and Romanoff… other heroes that got less screentime in other movies get more facetime too. And Stan Lee gets another cameo.
The villain… I was worried about a CGI villain…. if the character struggles, the movie crumbles, but James Spader’s performance as Ultron is on par with a live-action villain like Loki. Loki had some good still in him, but Spader’s Ultron is a maniacal robot bent on destruction – he’s menacing enough to warrant assembling of these great heroes. The one flaw is that it was difficult to separate his very recognizable voice from the character – a little distracting for my age group who know Spader from his multitude of roles in TV and movies.
Lots of references: for the die hard Marvel fans there are references throughout to things that have happened and are going to happen, and there’s also ties to Disney’s Pinocchio (clever), the original Ultron from comics, Jane Foster, Pepper Potts, Asgard, Wakanda (Black Panther), and four of the six Infinity stones.
Stick around for the mid-credits scene that pushes ahead to future movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe… so be sure to stick around for it… it is a quick extra teasing the increasingly imminent threat of another alien attack. (There was not an end credits scene in our screening, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a Shwarma-like scene at the end of this theaterical release.
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