Avengers: Age of Ultron Review #SpoilerFree

Dr Roshan Radhakrishnan
You would have to have been living under a rock not to know that the most anticipated sequel in the Marvel movie universe was releasing. So without further adieu, let us dive into the movie, shall we?

When Tony Stark decides to use a newly acquired energy source to try and create his own version of a peacekeeping force of Iron Men robots, all hell breaks loose when the system attains artificial intelligence and determines that the key to the survival of the Earth is the extinction of its biggest parasite: mankind.

What worked for me: 

  • The pace of the movie: We literally kick off in the middle of an action sequence and from that moment, there is no slowing down. Each sequence invariably sets up the next in rapid succession. 
  • Juggling multiple character arcs: Very few are capable of handling an ensemble cast of this size. But then, In Joss (Whedon) we trust. And he had said all along that he was not looking to go bigger than the first Avengers movie, but deeper. He does that well as we get to see more about the past and fears of each of the Avengers.
  • Action: Quite a few excellent set pieces in here. Besides the Iron Man-Hulk showdown, what you will truly appreciate is how well they work as a team here, feeding off of each others moves. Ultron's end game 'plan' is quite unique, when I think of it now.
  • Characters: Part of the reason why there is no time for fleshing out certain moments which deserved it is because you have to introduce quite a few new pieces from the Marvel Universe as well into this intricate maze that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is building. The Maximoff twins (one gifted with super speed and the other with the ability to mess with your minds and use kinetic blasts) have their own reasons to side with Ultron as the movie gets going. Not to mention a certain 'voice we have grown to love' since the first Iron Man movie, finally getting a body and role. Ultron is no Loki but he is still a very menacing and calculating villain because of the insane logic running within his head. 
  • Actors: Ultron is voiced by James Spader which is really quite brilliant casting. That ability to be funny and yet downright evil sits easily with Spader. You can visualize him clearly in the movements of Ultron at times. Lengthier story arcs for Bruce Banner, Black Widow and Hawkeye (the three without individual movies) are also portrayed well by the super talented trio of Ruffalo, Johansson and Renner. Robert Downey Jr and the two Chris' have played these roles for so long that it is almost second nature to them, I assume.
  • Comic book geeks: There is a lot for them (okay, us!). Seeds of the 'Civil War' to come in the next Captain America movie (between Iron Man and Captain America)  are planted here as there is a visible clash of ideologies. The sequence featuring Andy Serkis takes you to another very familiar fictional land in Africa. 

What did not work for me:
  • A little too much world building for me. I love the Marvel Universe as much as any fan but certain character arcs are deliberately left unresolved because of what is (I assume) to come in future movies. I can't help but feel a bit let down by that. For example: Thor realizes that someone is playing them like puppets and those of us who have seen the earlier movies know it too but someone who watches this movie without seeing the previous ones may feel lost. There are ties to literally every movie of the past in here. 
  • A darker vibe as compared to the brighter first Avengers movie. Lesser OMG moments too. 
  • Just as in Man of Steel, some may have an issue with the level of destruction inflicted by the superheroes and lack of eventual culpability/aftermath. I guess that kind of takes away something from the emotional aspect of events which occur during the film. 
  • Everyone gets their moment... but that still means sharing moments between a dozen key characters in a single movie. So perhaps a few scenes that could have been longer ended up on the editing room floor. 
Stand out moments:
  • Remember that non-stop sequence in the first Avengers movie where we have the camera panning across all the Avengers as they battle Loki and the Chitauri? The ones in this movie are even better. Trust me.
  • 'Iron Man in Hulkbuster' vs a really angry Hulk. 
  • Also, do you remember that running gag in the trailers where Thor challenges everyone to lift his hammer and nobody can? It has an excellent payoff moment in the latter third that had everyone clapping in the audience. 

My verdict:
Avengers: Age of Ultron is the equivalent of reading a 12 issue comicbook series at a single stretch. You are expected to know your characters before you open the first page of the book, there are no panels free to spare as each moment rapidly builds up to the next sequence but it is still totally worth it.

I am going with 4 out of 5 Appletinis. 

It is not the best movie in Phase 2 of the MCU (that honour is shared by the epic "Guardians of the Galaxy" and the espionage thriller/ SHIELD game changer "Captain America: the Winter Soldier") but it is a worthy addition to the franchise.

What it truly is is an evolution of the characters we have known for nearly a decade now who have gone from being individual warriors who were put together during a crisis (in the first Avengers movie) to what they are now: a family that may squabble at times but still know how to get the job done as a team when push comes to shove.

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