Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Jim’s Review

I enjoyed Age of Ultron. I came out of the theatre having had a good time, but let’s get something out of the way and say it wasn’t as good as The Avengers. Some of that is just going to be chalked up to the law of diminishing returns. Simply put, we’ve seen these fireworks before, but there’s more to it than that.

Age of Ultron makes some weird choices. Some of them are out of necessity, but others are creative decisions that I don’t particularly agree with. Maybe the most glaring of those is the budding romance between Hulk and Black Widow. If you read that and you’re shocked, my point is already proven. It seems absurd, and no interaction between the two characters has ever suggested there was any romantic spark between them. It feels forced, and things feeling forced is sort of the mantra behind most of what’s wrong with the movie.

Major plot points, like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver switching sides, happen too easily. The effort to give every character a side plot felt tacked-on, and seemed to mostly be about setting up future story-lines.

Essentially, the problem with Age of Ultron is a simple one: there are too many characters, and with a 2 1/2 hour runtime, they really couldn’t add enough movie to accommodate them all. Even the titular villain, Ultron sometimes gets lost in the mix.

Personally, I think this has been the inevitable fate of these movies. They keep forcing the follow-up to be bigger, it’s succumbing to the fallacy that more is better, and they have begun to crack under their own weight. With that said, the movie does its job. It held my attention, and it set up what’s to come next.

If I were to highlight everything that I found wrong with this movie, it would sound like I disliked it. Maybe I’m already there, but that’s not really how I feel. I wasn’t even disappointed by Age of Ultron, I just wasn’t as impressed as I hoped to be.

Kyle’s Take

That’s an in depth analysis of Age of Ultron, Jim, that I can’t refute. I’ll start by saying that Age of Ultron may not be the movie I expected, but it’s still the comic book movie and blockbuster for the summer. Still, it’s not without some issues. I’ll boil the movie’s shortcomings to two main problems (both of which you mentioned, Jim) that may have critics and fans less than impressed: too many characters and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s prior success.

Age of Ultron has a runtime of two hours and twenty minutes – that includes fifteen minutes of credits – so it’s actually the shortest movie Marvel has made in quite some time and they have twelve (or more) characters fighting for screen time. Each character is left with an average of ten minutes apiece, so weird choices like the Hulk and Black Widow romance and easy fixes like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver flip-flopping were out of necessity. We don’t have time for Black Widow this movie, so let’s hook her up with eeny, meeny, miny, Hulk. Yeah, the Hulk works. It didn’t. Several of these choices felt rushed and took me out of Marvel’s world, but I can’t help but think that previous Marvel movies colored my reaction to this film.

Of the five Marvel movies leading up to Age of Ultron, three are on my short list for the best comic book movies of all time. The first Avengers film, Captain America: Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy developed their characters – Avengers had help from other movies – and gave us engaging stories, steeped in Marvel’s rich history. I entered the movie theater hoping for another comic book movie great (maybe not as great as those three) and found that Age of Ultron deviated from the Marvel Universe more than those other films and didn’t have enough time to ground us in its characters. Such is the fate of most comic book movie franchises. You start off with one villain and then one villain isn’t enough, so you keep adding more and more until you reach critical mass. The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t to that point yet, but I don’t see how they can possibly crossover every character and make it work.

But let’s face it. If you’ve watched the Marvel movies up to this point, you’re going to watch Age of Ultron and you’ll have a good time.

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