Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Sexist snark aside, and despite the mixed reviews I've read and other articles about how we are once again in the decline of the Hollywood Blockbuster, I liked the latest entry in Marvel's Cinematic Universe. The action and special effects are still top of the line, I love the interaction between the characters (I particularly like the ever-increasing tension that's bubbling between Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man and Chris Evans' Captain America), and at 141 minutes in length, the film never bored me. There isn't a whole lot you haven't seen elsewhere, but for now, Marvel's formula is still working.
Everyone's back: Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). After raiding a Hydra outpost and recovering Loki's scepter from Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) - who has used it to power up the Maximoff twins, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) - the Avengers regroup at headquarters, where Tony Stark convinces Banner to use the power of scepter, without the rest of the team's knowledge, to complete Stark's Ultron global defense program. The experiment works, but the newly sentient artificial intelligence (voiced by James Spader), turns out to be like SkyNet and decides the planet must be saved by eliminating humanity.
If you got lost reading that plot summary, I'm afraid you're too far behind for me to help you at this point.
Once again written and directed by Joss Whedon, Age of Ulton has its share oof humor. During a drunken celebration, the other Avengers take turns trying and failing to lift Thor's Hammer, and during a reprieve at Hawkeye's family farm, Laura Barton (Linda Cardellini) puts these super-powered heroes to work chopping wood. There's also a nice callback to Hawkeye's brainwashing by Loki in the first Avengers when he stops Scarlet Witch from messing with his mind while Thor, who insists he can't be so deceived, steps right into his own hallucination. There's a lot of moments like that, including a running gag after Captain America chides Iron Man's language and then regularly gets called out for his own swearing by the others.
What I found most interesting is the continued jockeying for authority between Stark and Rogers. Their mismatched personalities play off well against each other, and since Captain America 3 will be subtitled Civil War, and knowing what that entails in the comics, I'm anticipating this rivalry reaching a boiling point. And without giving too much away, I'm glad to see Paul Bettany finally gets a chance to show up in the flesh, so to speak.