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Friday, April 24, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron Movie Review




Avengers: Age of Ultron is the modern comic book in movie form. Whereas Marvel's The Avengers was the Golden Age, all colorful and fun, Age of Ultron is more grounded and has more drama than it's predecessor, and basically the next logical step that the series can make.
 

The Avengers now flex the super part of their superhero monicker, tearing down Hydra bases left and right in the search of Loki's scepter (last seen in Captain America: The Winter Soldier's post-end credits). With peace now within their reach, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is looking for a way to protect the world without the Avengers having to stick their necks out all the time, starting with the Ultron Program. But when Stark's research unwittingly unleashes the evil AI Ultron (played by James Spader) that threatens to wipe out humanity, it's once again up to the Avengers to save the world, whether they like to (and each other) or not. 


Like the modern comic book, there's strict adherence to continuity in Age of Ultron, with plot points from films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe converging in one place. Loki's scepter, the Infinity Stones, HYDRA, they all serve to drive the story along, and if you've watched all of Marvel's films up to this point, it makes for some very satisfying pay offs. There's also more emphasis on drama, especially with the non-superpowered members like Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), that serve to better flesh them out more. Hawkeye in particular isn't just the guy with insane archery skills, he's also given a backstory that makes him more human, which only serves to underline just how badass he actually is. Finally, the Badass Normals get the attention they deserve.



The MCU has had many supervillains, most of them forgettable *cough* Malekith *cough*, and it's only fitting that the Avengers themselves get one of the most memorable and menacing villains we've had so far. James Spader's portrayal of Ultron was pitch perfect! Spader turned Ultron into more than just a walking tank with human murder on his mind...he's snarky, he's funny, he believes that what he's doing is right, and he can go toe-to-toe with the Avengers without breaking a proverbial sweat.

But of course, this being a comic book movie and me being a comic book fan, I was literally shaking in my seat with what they've done to bridge the gap between the comics and films. Director Joss Whedon has pretty much perfected the art of translating the comic book page into awesome cinematic sequences, and this time around there are more face-melting moments that perfectly capture what superhero comic books are all about.

I particularly loved what they've done with Vision (played with subdued dignity by Paul Bettany, no longer trapped in a recording studio), and if you're an old-school comic book fan, you'll love what they've done with him in Age of Ultron. Now, I know some of you are still seething that Stark created Ultron and not Hank Pym like in the comics, but if there's one thing Age of Ultron excelled at, it was making daring choices. There are choices made by Whedon in this movie that may not be popular to purists, but in the context of the MCU, it works. They didn't set out to completely ape your daddy's comic books. This is a whole new thing, a totally different animal, and that's what makes it so special.

Is it safe to say that Age of Ultron is better than Marvel's The Avengers? One could argue it's not. The first movie was such a game changer that to compare it to the new one would be unfair for both. But to Age of Ultron's credit, it focused on what works, on what it does best, which is melt-your-face-off moments ripped straight out of your comic book dreams. Age of Ultron won't be elevating superhero cinema anytime soon, but when it comes to comic book movies, they don't get any bigger than this. Highly recommended!

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