Avengers: Age of Ultron was released in American theaters this Friday, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on this movie. 🙂
I should mention that instead of picking up where the first movie left off, Ultron is set almost immediately after the events of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is magic that way … all the films are intertwined, which means to fully understand what’s going on in each movie, you have to see all the movies and Marvel makes tons of money from all the sales! (*cough* not that there’s anything wrong with that *cough*) Honestly, though, if the Thor and Iron Man films conflict with your values, you’ll understand the plot just fine without them.
The Avengers, running independently of the now-defunct SHIELD, recover Loki’s infamous “glow-stick of destiny” from a band of Eastern-European terrorists. Tony Stark/Iron Man discovers that the Asgardian scepter does more than hypnotize people; it contains a highly-sophisticated artificial intelligence that just might be the right software for his side project, an automated Earth-defense system called Ultron. (Oh, what a coincidence – that’s also the title of the movie!) This artificial intelligence, once activated, overpowers Stark’s JARVIS AI, integrates as much information as he can from the Avengers’ database, and comes to an incredibly naive and dangerous conclusion: the easiest way to achieve world peace is to eliminate the primary cause for global unrest, namely the humans. And he’s going to start with the Avengers, because last we heard, they’re all human.
I really enjoyed Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I think it handled the presentation ensemble cast particularly well. This is a movie where there’s a lot going on, but it is all being shown in a non-overwhelming fashion. If my head was spinning during the screening, it was out of sheer excitement, not confusion. 😀
Right from the start, the Avengers team is a unified front (a refreshing change from the first movie, where they spent the first hour and a half bickering like children), but each team member is given equal focus as individual characters. My fears that this was going to be Iron Man 4 in disguise, since RDJ was billed at the top of the cast list, dissolved by the time the first act was over. Backstories, personal conflicts, and subplots fit nicely into the storyline. Also, I feel like Marvel is also trying to make up for the fact that Hulk doesn’t have his own Marvel Cinematic Universe movie and Hawkeye was practically useless in the first Avengers. Their roles, in particular, were a lot more well-rounded in this movie.
We’re also introduced to new characters, like Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch,
mutant inhuman twins with a personal vendetta against StarkTech. My understanding is that Paramount (the company that makes the MCU movies) was allowed to share these characters with Fox (the company that makes the X-Men movies), but with strings attached. They agreed to not reference certain elements from the X-Men franchise, such as mutation, or the twins’ relation to the X-Men character Magneto. Paramount seems to have followed this agreement to a tee and worked around all the awkwardness so gracefully, you’d think they had no strings on them. (See what I did there? *Speaks in low, gravelly voice* STRING.)
What annoyed me was the “shipping” that went on in this movie. I’m not a big fan of romance in general, especially when it seems shoehorned into an otherwise stellar story. While it didn’t overly detract from my viewing experience (save for one awkward moment during a fight scene, they kept it quite PG-rated), I feel it didn’t make sense and didn’t need to be there. But you know what? Maybe the writers threw together a “ship” that nobody would expect just to evoke that “huh?” reaction from the audience. 😀
This movie is much darker than its predecessors (at least the ones that I’ve seen). If I were sharing this movie with viewers younger than fifteen, I would probably wait until it’s released on DVD so I could skip certain scenes.
Age of Ultron is rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments.” This rating is pretty accurate, in my book.
When it comes to action, this movie does not disappoint, although the action-violence sequences aren’t quite as intense as they were in Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. This movie is more about getting at you on more of an emotional level.
For me, the worst offender, content-wise, was one character’s flashback sequence. [MILD SPOILER ALERT: This character was part of a sick training program to become a mindless assassin, and they are depicted as a young child shooting a gun first at targets, and then progressing to using a squirming, blindfolded victim as a target. Then, as part of their “graduation ceremony” they are shown being wheeled into an operating room where the character explains they were “sterilized.”[END SPOILER] I think this scene was particularly disturbing, as well as a little saddening.
Language is as expected for a tamer PG-13 movie, but in the beginning of the movie, Steve Rogers calls Stark out for using an expletive, and Stark most comically relents for a good hour of screentime. Oddly, it’s the mild-mannered “Cap” who uses the most “language” throughout the film, and the other characters feign horror each time.
As for the “suggestive comments,” there was really only one scene between the “shipped” couple (not telling you who they are) which made me a little uncomfortable. Aside from that, a married couple (I won’t tell you who they are either) hugs and kisses, but that’s all they do.
Also, there was one scene depicting Thor’s nightmare, where he’s in some weird mythical place surrounded by weird women dancing weirdly around stone pillars. I don’t know if I would even flag it as “mild sensuality,” but the constant shots of these weird dancers interspersed throughout the tense dialogue had me on the fence.
To end this section on a more positive note, I was pleasantly surprised that when Tony Stark throws a party for the Avengers in one scene, it was so tame relative to the sort of shenanigans that went on in Iron Man 2. (Now that movie was painful to watch, even with a content filter.)
That said, if you’re a big fan of Marvel and you’ve already had some exposure to other MCU movies, I doubt you’d be any worse off watching Avengers: Age of Ultron. In fact, I hope you enjoy it. I sure did. 🙂