A.C. at the Movies…

night-at-the-movies

When it comes to comic book movies, 2012’s The Avengers stands among the best.  It was nearly impossible to imagine a film that could successfully bring together several big name actors playing established characters into a shared film, but it worked beautifully.avengers_age_of_ultronc Avengers:
Age of Ultron

The sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron does not fare so well.  While an enjoyable movie overall, Age of Ultron suffers from a lot of problems.  The story falls apart at times, and the villain leaves a lot to be desired.
The great tragedy is that Age of Ultron just isn’t nearly as much fun to sit through as most Marvel universe films are.  I’m a huge fan of these movies, and I’ve given favorable reviews to just about every Marvel superhero movie of the past decade or so.  But Age of Ultron is missing that magic that makes these movies such a blast to sit through.  It has some great moments, don’t get me wrong, but overall it’s not on the same level of most recent Marvel films, and it certainly isn’t on the same level as the first Avengers film.
Any comic book movie can suffer if the villain isn’t very good and that’s definitely the case with Age of Ultron.  James Spader portrays the robotic villain Ultron in the film, but if you have your eyes closed, you’ll swear you’re watching an episode of his popular TV series The Blacklist.  On that show, Spader prances around as a psychotic villain who loves the sound of his own voice.  Apparently that’s his only character, because he brings the exact same performance to the villain Ultron.  Same exact mannerisms, same exact way of speaking, heck, some of the dialog feels picked directly from The Blacklist TV show.  With his Blacklist character being so iconic and recognizable, it’s baffling why they didn’t have him do something to differentiate his Ultron performance.
One thing you can’t take away from Age of Ultron is just how amazing most of these actors and characters are.  The movie shines brightest when the heroes are at rest, with the film’s most successful jokes coming when the characters are just hanging out.  No matter what issues the film has, there’s still something amazing about watching these perfectly cast actors bring these comic book heroes to life again.
As much as I enjoyed the characters, I have a lot of gripes about the overall story of this movie.  The plot is a bit of a mess, held together and pushed forward by dubious character moments that feel out of place.  After such a beautiful first film that brought these characters together in a natural way, Age of Ultron feels unnatural at every turn.  Characters are best friends one moment, then mortal enemies the next, allegiances shifting any time the plot needs a convenient ramp from one point to the other.
Luckily, these films rarely disappoint when it comes to the action.  Age of Ultron serves up some great action sequences, but one stands high above the rest.  When the monstrous Hulk rampages out of control, Iron Man calls a super giant Iron Man suit down from space (because he’s that awesome) and does battle with Hulk.  It’s a clever, inventive battle, and one that’ll be hard to top in future movies.
The final action sequence of the movie sadly didn’t do much for me.  The situation is interesting, but the action feels far too similar to earlier Marvel films.  Essentially, the heroes are fighting a bunch of Iron Man style robots.  The sequence has a ton of similarities to the final sequence of the first Avengers film, and also feels similar to the ending of Iron Man 2.  I can’t even begin to imagine why they didn’t try to innovate with their biggest sequence of the film, because as is it really hurt the movie.  Watching the characters employ similar and sometimes identical tactics to those they used in the final battle of the first movie is a real disappointment.
Not everyone was as unimpressed with this movie as I am, but everyone seems to agree that Age of Ultron doesn’t live up to the original.  There are great moments in the film, but just as many missteps.  Add in an awkward romance, tons of time focused on the film’s weaker characters, and you’ve got a movie that just doesn’t deliver on the level we expect from Marvel films.  It’s still worth checking out, but I’d suggest you go into it with lowered expectations.

TWO AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS
This movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments

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