Marvel’s superhero sequel “Avengers: Age of Ultron” kicks-off the Summer 2015 Movie Season. And while it’s sure to break box office records, this follow-up to 2012’s original is more grim and less entertaining on practically every level.
“Age of Ultron” begins promisingly with a solid action scene. Returning director Joss Whedon stages the mighty heroes coming together in slow-motion, with dramatic music behind them, to enhance the excitement. And we quickly learn that Ultron – Tony Stark’s secret defense system created assure world peace – will be the centerpiece of this story.
Ultron gets into enemy hands – and comes “alive” – in the form of a metal maniac. James Spader provides excellent voice work as the genuinely evil villain. His goal? First to destroy The Avengers, and then the entire human race. That’s the best Whedon and the writers could come-up with for this evil villain – to destroy the world? Also, Ultron isn’t given nearly enough to do in the story and his reasoning for all of the madness that ensues is never properly exposed.
“Age of Ultron” is a difficult film to actually enjoy. Whedon clearly set-out to make a different, darker film than the last – and maybe that’s also in reaction to last year’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”, which was just so much fun. Here, we get a lot of “mind games” and psychological mumbo-jumbo. I get enough of this stuff in dramas and documentaries. I want my Marvel Movies filled with gags and wisecracks and laughs and action scenes I’ve never seen before. You get none of that here.
There is a romance between Bruce Banner aka The Hulk aka Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow, so at least that’s something new. It’s Marvel’s version of “Beauty and the Beast”, a perfect marriage, now that they’re part of Disney.
Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye actually gets the most screen time of any of the Avengers, and some new recruits join the team, including two who part of a very weak plot development. The overall story lacks compelling elements and includes practically no surprises. I kept waiting for that cool twist – and I’m still waiting.
This is the fifth film Robert Downey, Jr. has starred in as Iron Man, and you can tell, just as his Tony Stark is getting weary of having to save the world, Downey, Jr. is starting to get tired of playing this role. His signature, sarcastic one-liners are beginning to wear thin. And considering how “Age of Ultron” ends, don’t be surprised if his screen time decreases for future “Avengers” installments, including next one, teased with a brief clip during the closing credits.
Thankfully, the visual effects are stellar – probably the best of any Marvel movie ever. Several of the action scenes, including a Hulk-sized Iron Man fighting the green guy himself, are worthy of the franchise, but the grand finale is unspectacular and a major letdown.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” gets a C+.
Running Time: 141 min.