Avengers: Age of Ultron

by | May 13, 2015 | 0 comments

Marvel Restrains its Director From Taking On A Auteristic Tone.

It’s always hard to make sequels, especially sequels of highly successful films. The Avengers was a worldwide phenomenon back in 2012, it became the third highest grossing film of all time, and it established Marvel as the powerhouse of blockbusters. What was so successful in the first installment of The Avengers was its ability to bring so many stars together for one film. Director/writer Joss Whedon had managed to gather the likes of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). For the second go round, Whedon had a more challenging task of appealling to comic fan-boys, cinematic critics, and the stars themselves (with the every growing cast, screen time is becoming more difficult to administer), all while topping the first film. However, Whedon has magically managed to pull off a film that achieves a kind of balance in all of these aspects with the second installment of The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Age of Ultron finds our Avengers saving the world yet again from the decaying terrorist organization Hydra (last seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier). Iron Man (aka Tony Stark) talks with the Hulk (aka Bruce Janner) about the possibility of creating an AI army that would be able to protect the world from any more alien threats; as Tony Stark puts it, it would be “like a giant suit of armor around the world.” However, we all know what happens when you deal with AI: it always ends up turning on its creator. Tony Stark’s first experiment, Ultron (voiced by a perfect James Spader) breaks from the confines of Stark’s computer named Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany), and decides that the main threat to the earth is the humans themselves. Ultron is also able to recruit other super humans: the mind reading Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and the super fast Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). The only ones that can stop Ultron are the Avengers (duh). So voila, great plot and high stakes!

Whedon hasn’t signed on for the next two Avengers films in the saga, and the thing is: I can’t blame him. Marvel wants a clear-cut blockbuster, but with Ultron you can see brief sparks of Whedon’s wit and art; something, which you could also notice was being restrained by Marvels magnates. The problem with caging up a director that wants to take risks is that the film itself risks falling into dullness. Fortunately Whedon was able to slip a couple of his brushstrokes; we especially see this in possibly one of the best scenes in the film when all the Avengers attempt to pick up Thor’s hammer. It was one of those awkward almost Tarantino-ish moments. These brief flashes of Whedon help make the film slip into being an enjoyable and quality blockbuster. But the big challenge for this film was balancing the huge cast, while keeping the story moving forward. No matter how skilled of a director you are, to achieve that task with perfect marks is impossible.

I think that Whedon’s big victory here was giving the new cast and lesser-known characters more screen time. Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Spader, and even Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johnasson, and Mark Ruffalo trumped the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans who we usually end up sick with by the end of the movie. This screen time shift allowed the audience to delve into small characters, but it also allowed for the narrative to not become redundant with the previous film. Whedon’s handling of the cast was magnificent. You could tell he kept all of his actors happy by giving them a chance to actually act. He manages to get a romance conflict between the Avengers, and other emotional stakes are set with family, children, and especially each other. This adds to the humanity and to the audience’s care for the characters, so that you can tell that if one of them perishes, you will be devastated. The best part of this emotional upping, however, was that Whedon pulled it off without sounding cheesy!

In terms of the acting, what I most appreciated was how serious the cast took their characters. It didn’t feel like a Fast and Furious film where you refer to the people on the screen by the actor’s name. In this blockbuster there were actual characters, who were deeply crafted and very multilayered. This character development also helps this film differentiate from the first film, and it keeps the audience’s intrigue.

However, one must not go into these films expecting to see a film as legendary and exceptional as The Dark Knight. Marvel’s objective with its films is to simply make you marvel at their visual effects (see what I did there), and to keep you coming for more. With Age of Ultron, we see Marvel apply this logic. An unfortunately it ends up making the fight scenes elongated and even repetitive. But hey! What are you expecting from this type of film?

In the end Whedon manages to pull off a satisfying sequel that moves the Marvel universe closer to its final clash of the Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers franchises. The blockbuster in requirement in Age of Ultron ends up sucking up too much of Whedon’s freedom so that there is much less story in the film than there should be (for a two and a half hour film). Even so, the film is entertaining so you are never left bored for more than a couple of minutes, and while the jokes are starting become tacky like in the Die Hard and Fast and Furious films, most of them were able to hit home. 



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