There will be minor spoilers throughout this review.
It is rushed. There is no doubt about it. Rumors pegged the original cut at over 3 hours, and I believe it. Even then, I suspect that it felt rushed. With an ensemble cast of this size, it was inevitable that there would be a deluge of subplots in an attempt to give everyone screen time.
But there is simply too much going on. Rather than dealing with Tony’s concerns over the safety of everyone, rather than build a relationship between Romanoff and Banner, rather than see any fallout with Cap over the Hydra mess, rather than learn anything about Fury, rather than dive into the awkward father-son relationship between Stark and Ultron, we are given quick off-handed comments, and the scene moves on.
Hawkeye turns out to be the most developed character in the film, bumping him to just below Natasha as the best overall character in the movies. The explanation of where he was during Winter Soldier works better than I had imagined.
The whole movie suffers from this pacing. The movie starts with references to things that you haven’t seen. Scene after scene lets you know that things have happened since Winter Soldier which are simultaneously important to how everyone got to this moment and insignificant enough to show.
The movie starts in media res, but we never get the back story.
When Captain America 2 came out, we made sure we had seen all the Agents of SHIELD before hand, because we didn’t want to miss anything in the movie. This time? This time, I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron so I didn’t miss anything in Agents of SHIELD. If you aren’t watching it, you should be.
From last week’s episode, I knew there would be a tie in to the movie. SHIELD had just hit another base, where they got the location of the staff, Coulson passes that to Maria Hill.
What I was surprised to see was that Ultron starts right there. No set up, no “while you were away…” No, it starts right after the AoS episode ends. While they explain later what is going on, it really felt like the beginning of the movie was the end of this past episode of AoS.
That said, this has another problem. From the movie perspective, Fury goes into hiding, and then, boom, shows back up with new toys. And while we have some ideas what he has been doing, thanks to AoS, even then it is just hints.
In a way, all of this diminishes the grand set up of Winter Soldier. Yes, SHIELD was always going to come back into the light, but… I dunno, this felt rushed. AoS has shown a lot of the ‘behind the scenes’ for the movies, particularly in the Winter Soldier fallout, but things in this movie were behind the scenes even for AoS (I’m looking at you, Theta Protocol).
Further it takes the wind out of the sails of some of the thing that have been going on AoS. I’m still looking forward to the show, but am bummed at what this does to Coulson’s character arc.
Also, Phil Coulson remains my favorite Avenger.
The big bad of this movie has several problems. First, like Michael Bay, our Marvel team has decided that a robot needs a human-like mouth to speak with.
Which leads to Ultron’s overall problem: he is too human. As an AI, Ultron shouldn’t act like a human made of robot parts. Robots are effective as enemies because they are not human.
But his methods, style of speech, his actions, all human. Why does he go to bribe the guy to get the vibranium? Why not just take it? Why is he working with the twins at all? There is no decent into madness, there is just madness. He is a very dangerous bad guy simply because we are told he is.
And for someone supposedly as smart as he is (because we are told he is), his plans aren’t that good. For someone who supposedly controls the internet, his actions are too local. In the end, Ultron’s potential is never realized.
That said, Spader knocks this one out of the park, something we all expected him to do.
With an ever growing cast size, I think we all knew there wouldn’t be too much time to develop these two. Still, even the little development we got didn’t do much for who they were.
For example: why are they working with Ultron? I mean, how did they even team up? One minute he’s at Avengers’ Tower, then next, walking around with the Twins. Again, bad guys because we are told they are.
And what happened between caged up at the end of Winter Soldier and totally on Hydra’s side at the start of this movie?
And the transition from Avenger annoyance to Avenger happened with very little consequence.
There are a few fights in the movie, all very well done. That said, the one in the middle presents a problem.
I don’t see the point.
In this scene, an enraged Hulk proceeds to tear through some undisclosed African city (I suspect Johannesburg), under the control of the Scarlet Witch. Iron Man flies in with the hulk buster armor and they fight.
As a scene itself, there is nothing wrong with it–but there are no consequences. Not really. I get the intention, it is to lead up to the end (get to that in a moment), but it wasn’t needed. They comment Ultron is trying to drive them apart, and yet this one moment which would have been a great fulcrum is not used at all. They make comments that Banner may be arrested (good luck), but again, just comments, just telling. No consequences are shown.
The scene simply felt like a part of the checklist: Hulk v Ironman (check)
In the end of the movie, we have this great moment where the Hulk, literally, flies off into the sunset. I get it, this is supposed to be the consequence of the earlier scene BUT this is ALWAYS the fear of the Hulk. This is Banner’s nightmare, being uncontrolled. Fear of hurting his friends is a part of who Banner is.
Also, the final scene of the movie falls under the “take out the flying thing before it gets too far” scenerio that has been a part of the last four? movies? Time for a new climax set up.
I had read recently that Whedon didn’t like The Empire Strikes Back because he saw the movie as incomplete. Yes, it was a part of a story arc, but it didn’t stand alone.
Which is what makes this movie so odd. Rather than feel like a culmination of the movies before it, as Avengers did, this one feels like a set up for all the movies to follow. And while this movie is complete, in the sense that the story has a beginning, middle and end, it is rushed, condensed, and feels like a cliff notes version of all of the things that happen.
I started to wonder if Guardians of the Galaxy is the problem. We didn’t get anything between Winter Soldier and Avengers on the movie side. GotG is a stand alone film that will tie into all of this, but not until Avengers 3.
Without some transitional movie, there was only AoS to pass the time, and the powers that be have limited what can occur on the TV show. Quite a few somethings have happened since the last movie, but we aren’t told what.
Flawed, but fun, Avengers 2 is a good watch. It is not a bad movie, by any means. It is simply not as good as Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. And, in the end, will be judged more on the movies that follow than itself.