Let’s say you were in a really great relationship awhile back. It was fantastic and was everything a relationship should be, but alas, it ended. So, you’ve found yourself single again and there’s a special someone on the horizon you really think could be a potential thing, but in the meantime, you end up playing the field until figuring things out. Welcome to Avengers: Age of Ultron. It’s your transitional or rebound movie before you decide to get serious.
Don’t get me wrong. For your hard-earned scratch, AoU is worth a trip to the theater to catch up with Iron Man, Cap and company. There are some nice breaks in the action with even a peek into the arrow slinging Hawkeye’s private life. This paired with several continuing jokes about Captain America’s problem with cursing or the ability to wield Thor’s hammer give the film goers plenty to digest throughout the over two-hour and twenty-one minute run time. Unfortunately, that’s not all viewers get.
The movie’s antagonist this time around is a self-aware robot named Ultron (voiced by James Spader) desiring only to of course, destroy humanity. Compared to the first film’s scheming madman Loki, Ultron is more like a smart assed household appliance. He’s tough and annoying as a vending machine that won’t give you your buck back and then sticks your order of Chuckles between the glass and that little rotating screw thing, depriving you of your treat. Only the vending machine then proceeds to verbally troll you over the next couple hours. Awkwardly spewing lines like “Oh, for God’s sake”, Ultron never really steps into super villain territory, instead just going through the motions of being a target for the heroes.
Speaking of our heroes, the nice thing about AoU is the relationships between the cast is much smoother as the franchise is past the point of drawn out introductions. For the most part, it all looks good onscreen, other than the fact that fans of the Hulk may get a tad annoyed as the big green machine has been downgraded to a neutered house pet up until the semi-epic battle in town with Iron Man.
There are also plenty of familiar faces other than the main cast such as Don Cheadle’s return as War Machine along with some new characters beyond what’s seen in the trailers. Regarding that, fans of the Avengers franchise should know that this is probably the last time the team as we know it will be together. Similar to the comic books, some Avengers will be leaving and others will step in to take their place. After two major films and several individual movies centered on the current cast, this looks to be a good thing with things visually getting a tad stale. It’s time some new folks picked up the title of Earth’s mightiest heroes, giving us all some new blood to root for.
What really seemed to be missing from the film was Joss Whedon’s usual attention to detail and hearty script. The story essentially falls a bit flat with getting no more complicated than “bad guy wants to destroy people and good guys try to stop him”. After plenty of hot button issues such as privacy/security in Captain America: Winter Soldier, AoU just kind of hopes viewers like robots and explosions. In fact, most of this film seems to exist to set things upright from the events of the last Cap movie, answering some popular questions about the future of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, a much-needed lesson on just what those pesky infinity stones we’ve been seeing in previous films can do. Like I said, it’s a transitional film. It’s two hours plus of fill ins and where we’re goings. There’s also some cool robot beat downs along the way.
A few years from now, this second offering of Avengers will be viewed as a successful financial win for Marvel and for fans, will be a sandwich chapter in the ever-growing tome that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s not the main course, just part of it.
Let’s face it, every good book needs a middle, although many times the middle is where the heart lies. And this time around, the heart, much like Ultron’s, is functional, but lacking in any sort of warmth.