Ever since it was announced, my anticipation for this film has been out of the roof. Just under 3 years after 2012's The Avengers releases and it is FINALLY here. The Age of Ultron has arrived... and it is so damn good!
As far as superhero films go, The Avengers is iconic. Not only was it the culmination of Phase 1 of the now massive MCU - seeing the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk share the screen and butt heads - but it also gave rise to the glowing Phase 2 and was just generally the best this genre has ever been. Raking in the biggest opening weekend EVER and a whopping $2 billion worldwide gross, it smashed records too. The pressure has been - and still is - on Age of Ultron. It has a lot of expectations to live up to, even more so considering it will kick off Phase 3 and play a big part in the setup of things like Captain America: Civil War and The Avengers: Infinity War.
How do you recreate the excitement of seeing your favourite heroes together for the first time; the tension, the chemistry? How can you match the sheer scale and ambition of the 2012 blockbuster; the action sequences, the set pieces? There was a unique flare to The Avengers. It was an event. These things are never quite the same the second time round. And truth be told, Age of Ultron is nothing like its predecessor. However, it sure as hell is just as epic.
As far as discussing the plot goes, I'm going to keep it spoiler-free - albeit if I just want to talk about every little thing that happens (that's how much I'm freaking out). Picking up from where we left off in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, in a world now without S.H.I.E.L.D, The Avengers: Age of Ultron sees our titular team come back together - under new leadership by Chris Evans' Captain America - following Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)'s attempt in going about setting up a global peacekeeping program - by trying to maintain peace and security by deploying self-working, A.I bots - goes askew.
There's definitely a lot more going on here than was with the last Avengers film. Not only in terms of plot but just in ambition too; director Joss Whedon takes things to an international scale and even has even cranked up the already huge ensemble cast to make it bigger. We have our usual team players; Evans' Steve Rogers, Downey Jr.' Tony Stark, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner with Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow as well as Samuel L. Jackson and Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D's Nick Fury and Agent Maria Hill.
In addition to them, we have our newcomers Olsen and Taylor-Johnson as our twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. There's James Spader voicing our titular big bad. Andy Serkis makes an appearance too, as Ulysses Klaw, and let's not forget Paul Bettany who we see going from Stark's trusty companion J.A.R.V.I.S to The Vision! I love what's done with him and he looks so awesome too, definitely adding some vitality to the proceedings. It doesn't end there though as we're also reunited with Don Cheadle as War Machine, along with Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba and so many others - appearing in all sorts of cameos and scenes. It's crazy!
The point is, there's a LOT of characters to give attention to on-screen. Then you have your main plot unfolding, with Earth's Mightiest Heroes going after Ultron, but there's all sorts of subplots featuring conflicts between the team rising and stories about Wanda and Pietro and all that good stuff. There's a LOT going on. However, it manages to swerve the usual doubts and worries for such a packed project and is actually all coherent. It works and it works well. Whedon manages to find the perfect balance of juggling plots here and succeeds in giving everyone the screen-time they deserve without things getting too convoluted or messy.
It's not an easy task, leading something as big as this and pulling it off with such little plot holes - although there certainly are some there. I admire what Whedon has done and for his certainly huge ambition which translates beautifully and looks gorgeous too, especially in IMAX - plunging you straight into the heart of the action. Believe it or not, the set pieces are all much bigger and better than anything we saw in The Avengers and the final showdown in this, somehow, even manages to dwarf the original's infamous "Battle of New York". Of course, with something so grandiose, there is going to be times you stumble a little and, I'll not deny it, Age of Ultron can lose its footing at times but it always swerves back onto track. Besides, it's mad fun.
As far as the acting goes, everyone here is phenomenal. We've seen Downey Jr, Evans and Hemsworth in these roles for so long now that they're just as comfortable in their respective roles as we are seeing them as their counterparts and they all, as usual, give great performances. From being such a bore in The First Avenger and, even somewhat in The Avengers, Cap has become one of my favourite heroes. Downey Jr. is always awesome. The arc that we see on him, post-Iron Man 3 makes for some compelling viewing. Hemsworth is, well, Hemsworth. The whole Asgardian riff is just superb with him. It's great to see Ruffalo back as Banner! He was my one of my favourite aspects of the first film and is just as great here; his wit and sarcasm playing too a par. The chemistry between the four dazzles, especially amongst the former two, who give a nice tease for what to expect next May.
I think, surprisingly though, it's the usual supporting players that really stand out here. Johansson and Renner both have remarkably more substantial roles this time around, with the latter just being one of the best characters in the film. Not only does Renner finally get a role worthy of his talents, but it's a chance for Hawkeye to shine and show us all just how epic he is. He has some of the best one-liners in the film too. As far as Johansson goes, I've really been digging her character of late. She was badass in Cap 2 and is just as much so in Age of Ultron too. In a genre so dominated by male characters, it's great to see that we have a woman so substantial to Marvel that can kick just as much ass and be just as cool as any of the guys on-screen with her.
Then we come to our newcomers and everyone that ever doubted Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver (after the great portrayal by Peter Evans in Days of Future Past) can rest easy because, I assure you, he is portrayed brilliantly and is such a fun character to watch. The same can be said for Elizabeth Olsen who would've been my favourite character for this, had we no Ultron. She plays quite a big role role in this and is ridiculously more powerful than the reveals showed her off as. I also love how her character actually physically goes through the emotional trauma of her victim when using her psychic powers and you really empathise with her pain too, despite her evil motives.
Of course, no one can compare to James Spader's antagonistic Ultron. The guy is outstanding. Normally, these films tend to be about the heroes but not this time round: he steals the show. Back in 2012, Tom Hiddleston's Loki made a poignant, dastardly villain in the first Avengers film andnd Ultron is the equivalent here, but he's also so much better. Spader is the perfect guy for the role, hands down! He's so snarky and his mannerisms and voice are captured to utter perfection to create a seethingly perfect and daunting A.I creation. You really believe he's real and it makes the clichéd "A.I is bad and going to take over the world" plot line so much darker and more grounded. There's an imposing sense of realism to his character and he makes the whole proceedings a whole lot more brooding as the terrifyingly great villain.
Just like with the first film, the comedy is flowing and there's a lot of great laugh out loud moments - especially from Hawkeye. We have the normal banter and wit from Stark, as ever, and it's present in his little baby Ultron too. There's a more emotional punch to the proceedings this time round, making for some moving moments and making the relationships in this film that bit more mesmerizing and significant. The biggest and best thing about the whole thing though is that watching Age of Ultron, it's clear that it's a passionate fanboy behind the camera. So much has been ripped directly out of the pages of the comics. It's nerdier and geekier than any other Marvel film yet. And it's epic to see that, especially if you love your Easter Eggs.
Then we have the action and effects and they're all superb. The sequences are so much bigger and better than anything we saw in The Avengers, despite how monumental they themselves were. The trailers were showing this off to be one crazy, action-packed siesta - which it is - but this is so much more insane than the reveals were leading on, if maybe losing a little bit of the energy of the first endeavor along the way. The stakes have been raised and you can feel it. There's a real sense of fear for the fate of our heroes as you watch the events in Age of Ultron unfold and that's evident with all that's taking place and in the tension between our protagonists.
For how it wraps Phase 2, it feels more so like a conduit for what's coming rather than a conclusion of this little sector of films. That's more so though probably because of just how prominent a role Age of Ultron plays in setting up and influencing the rest of the MCU. The situation was already bad when we started but, arguably, it ends up a lot worse when we depart the cinema than it was when we entered. Without spoiling anything, it's apparent how Civil War will come about because there is a lot of hatred between The Avengers when we leave. I'm definitely pumped for what's to come in the MCU, more so than I was before. As a film, Age of Ultron will entertain. As a Marvel project, it's a solid new entry. As a sequel, it's great. It's perhaps not as fun and energetic as its predecessor but it's still commendable to its own merit. As a blockbuster though, it delivers. I'd say that Marvel have, yet again, hit another home-run. Infinity War has a lot to live up to.
The Avengers: Age Of Ultron is a big, ball-busting blockbuster epic. Action-packed and huge in scope, it's a dark, witty, giant spectacle that is massive fun.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.