We have seen it….and it is good!
Arguably one of the best story tellers in business at the moment, Joss Whedon has managed to balance a hefty cast, interesting story and impossible CGI – but when all is said and done was there just a little too much going on at once?
As many of you already know, the story revolves around The Avengers as they battle Ultron, an artificial intelligence created by Tony Stark in the wake of all the wanton destruction of the first instalment.
Almost 3 years ago today the Avengers made their way to the big screen in an explosive debut, uniting all the stars of the Marvel stand-alone universe into one extraordinarily fun movie. Fans have waited with baited breath to see the next outing of the super hero squad and this latest offering without a doubt recognises both super fans and newcomers alike as we are treated to exciting action sequences, interesting story arcs and inspiring set pieces.
As you can imagine, managing such a project would break even the most coordinated director, but proving to be the best man for the job once again, Whedon has managed to pull off the seemingly impossible. Giving each character their own bubble within the story, each hero is given equal screen time, especially within the action sequences and as a result the film is well structured and well paced. As well as being perfectly balanced, Whedon goes even further and manages to spin a good level of humour into the script without compromising on the intensity of each scene (Transformers, im talking to you in particular here….your not being fun or clever with a farting robot…). This clever peppering of jokes as well as serious story arcs only adds to the experience and allows you to leave the cinema knowing you had a good time.
With a team of so many greats heroes and a cast only growing in star power, it comes as no surprise that every role is played perfectly – even if Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch didn’t share as much screen time as the final Winter Soldier scene would have had you believe. With Thor having arguably the best one liners, and Hawkeye actually getting a reason to live, its nice to see comedic pitches and action home runs being expertly delivered rather than woefully batted around. Although Ultron may not steal as much of the show as Loki did, James Spader has done an amazing job bringing the AI to life and really must be commended for his performance upon his Marvel debut!
So as I have appeared to lavish praise on this impressive sequel, there is only one more question to ask…is this better than the first?
As I sit and write this review now its become increasingly apparent that this is something I have been thinking about since the credits rolled and its only now I can finally give an answer – its not. Thats right, I can honestly say that my favourite will be and probably always be the first and I have some good ideas why.
I have been fortunate enough to have caught the film on a couple of occasions now and what makes me so sure that its not the best is for 2 pretty substantial reason and its these recurring issues that keep burrowing away in my mind once the lights go up.
My first issue could be seen as fairly controversial but regardless of your position it was definitely something I couldn’t quite shake off – the sheer amount of heroes. I know, I know, I can hear you all asking ‘why is he now bringing this up as just a few minutes ago he was praising the director on his balancing act?’, well the answer is quite simple…too many cooks spoil the broth. If you have too many people in one film then there is no way you are going to have enough time to give each both a worthy and in turn, interesting story arc. Yes, its awesome that you have Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, but they dont get enough time on screen for us to really care about them. The same can equally be said for the Vision who only really gets some screen time about 2 hours in and by that time your not really concentrating on getting to know they guy that came late to the party! Its this brief kiss of character development that leaves you wanting more, but at the same time isnt substantial enough to want to see them again either and that is a definite shame.
My second issue comes with the territory of a sequel…it just didnt have the same build up and explosive final moments as the first. The teams first outing was built on the same amount (if not more) intensity that unleashed itself as soon as we heard old Cap’ announce ‘…and Hulk, smash!’. Introducing us to some of the most exciting visuals, the action in the first one told as much of the story as Morgan Freeman did in Shawshank Redemption – so its quite disappointing that we dont get something similar with this one. Frustratingly we get some epic moments with some set pieces that really show the team as a force to be reckoned with (especially between Thor and Captain America) but it just falls apart as Ultron frantically tries to explain more of the story to us within the brief 2 minute windows he every so often gets rewarded with. Every time the final battle begins to turn up a gear I always move to the front of my seat expecting to see a battle spectacular to surpass all other action scenes previous to it, but alas, it never comes and im left feeling a little lonely in its absense rather than exhausted from the sheer excitement!
Overall, The Avengers: Age of Ultron is a great night at the cinema and regardless of its pitfalls, its still a great film. The cinema fan loved it, it had good action, an interesting story and some funny moments all wrapped up nicely. It was just a shame then that the fan boy in me was left pining for a little more. Age of Ultron, 4.5 out of 5 stars!