Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Edris Elba, Andy Serkis, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Voice of James Spader
The only thing that will save many, many a comic book fan from hating my guts is that this film is going to make a kabillion dollars. Nothing I say will stop that. These fans will use the box office as some sort of rebuke when I state that Age of Ultron isn’t very cohesive, intelligent, or engaging at all. Sure, this flick has lots of fights and explosions, beautiful people in tight costumes, and a few cute lines. It’s also bloated, overcrowded, choppy, illogical, and shallow.
In fact, this latest iteration of the Avengers’ world – the seventh film – is damn lucky it has such loyal fans. It’s also fortuitous that most of the other films were much more entertaining than this. Without these previous superpowers behind it, there’s no way Ultron would even make back its $250 million dollar budget.
Ultron is a convoluted comic-book plot from the get-go. The Avengers have to break into the lair of the evil Hydra to reclaim a magical scepter from the parallel dimension of Asgard. The demigod Loki once owned it.
Are you still with me? This is the first ten minutes; it gets worse. There is no way whatsoever to see this as a stand-alone film. You would absolutely have to watch the other seven to follow any of Ultron.
The scepter has a powerful stone. The stone apparently has something like computer coding in it. The inventor Tony Stark, Iron Man (Downey Jr.), and Bruce Banner, The Hulk (Ruffalo), use this coding to make an artificial intelligence to protect Earth from aliens. They make Ultron, voiced by Spader. This crazed robot decides to destroy our superheroes and all humanity.
In fact, this boring villain is just evil and insane for unbeknownst reasons; he isn’t at all compelling. Fighting alongside him are mutant twins, Quicksilver (Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Olsen). One is fast, and the other is so powerful with seemingly unlimited power, you wonder why she doesn’t just destroy her enemies outright.
On top of all this gobbledygook, Ultron offers bits and pieces of chopped-up backstory disguised as depth. This movie can’t show anything of substance with over a dozen major characters vying for attention! Emotional arc is impossible. Even the film’s nascent romance is delivered in brief, disconnected scenes.
It’s so crowded and silly that this Marvel Comics film will remind people of Marvel’s Spiderman 3: too much going on, no intriguing theme, no character to empathize with, all loudness and quickness and emptiness.
Ultron’s blurry, destructive battles are at least enjoyable in a simple, childlike way…if you’re not tired of seeing whole cities laid to waste. Some of the one-liners land. The costumes and other special effects are impressive; you can see where director Joss Whedon spent the budget on his megalomaniacal script.
Perhaps fans will argue that this is a quintessential comic book film – lots and lots of violent fighting in spandex while things explode and buildings crumble all around. This sort of flick only gives ammunition to people who hate comic book films. Many other movies – The Dark Knight and other Avengers films, for example – have proven to us that we can expect much more from our superheroes than this.