Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Since 2005, the release of a new Marvel films has been the cinematic event of the year. From Iron Man to Captain America, Marvel have been ruling the early summer box office. 2015 cannot escape the grips of Marvel’s cinematic universe with the release of Age of Ultron, Ant-Man in July and the reboot of Daredevil on Netflix.

Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Captain America come back to the big screen, in the hunt for Loki’s sceptre. After discovering that the sceptre holds an alien code, Tony Stark decides to fast track Artificial Intelligence creating the villainous Ultron. When Ultron decides that the only way to help Earth to advance is to wipe humans off the face of the planet, the Avengers must work together to stop Ultron enacting his terrible plan.

Marvel films always used to be perfectly balanced. A good mix of story, characters and script creating a cinema trip that many would want to revisit over and over. Joss Whedon was hailed a hero in the comic book world, the man with the vision to bring much loved characters to the big screen. Age of Ultron, however, takes away that title.

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If I had to describe Age of Ultron in a single word, that would be “disappointing”. Gone are the exciting plot points and occasional witticisms, replaced with blatant and repetitive jokes. Yes, Joss we realise that Steve Rogers is from the 1940s, but does that really need to be played on every five minutes?

When Avengers Assemble came out, there was always a worry that too many characters would crowd the screen and result in confusion. While that didn’t happen in the first film, Age of Ultron suffered. With the Avengers, Hawkeye’s family, the remainder of SHIELD and Ultron and his goons, there are so many characters that the story suffered.

Ultron is ultimately a good villain had his sarcasm and joking been dialled back. When Ultron is evil, he is very much evil and his sarcasm embodies that but it doesn’t need to be continuous. It is understandable that Ultron has some sense of humour having absorbed a lot of his knowledge from the Internet. What appeared on the trailer was a perfect villain, sinister but scarily made sense, however that is almost over shadowed by humour.

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Having introduced Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, time was dedicated to establishing these wish-washy characters, leaving other characters on the side lines. In the comic books Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are the children of Magneto, but with Sony owning the rights to X-Men that was never going to happen. Instead, we were left with genetically modified faux-Russians who weren’t really of much interest. Black Widow, a character I have admired through her previous outings, was turned into a love interest who worried about her future relationships rather than being the bad-ads she previously appeared to be. Only one line – “why am I always clearing up after you boys?” – showed the Black Widow established in previous films.

One positive character change was the introduction of Clint Barton/Hawkeye as a proper character. Having just played a bit part in Avengers Assemble, it was good to see Hawkeye take a front seat role who appeared as the most grounded character. Comic book purists may argue that the Hawkeye in the film is nowhere near the same as comic book Hawkeye, but at least he had more than just a handful of lines. Plus, it’s good to see a purely human element in a group of super soldiers, Gods and multimillionaire playboys.

While not the same Marvel film that was expected from the trailer, that’s not to say it wasn’t entertaining. Seeing the Avengers all try their hand at lifting Miljnor and trying to become regular human beings were nice touches. Even seeing Andy Serkis for a fleeting – if unnecessary –  scene was enjoyable. As always the graphics and effects were visually pleasing, but for this reviewer, it simply did not live up to expectations.

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