“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is the follow up to the smash sensation “The Avengers” from 2012. Writer/Director Joss Whedon returns to helm the feature and the six principle cast members from the first movie return as well. The biggest question going into the movie was, “Can the sequel top the first movie?” and the answer is, sort of.
The biggest step up in the sequel from its predecessor is the action. The action is miles ahead from the first movie. While the first movie took a while to really get going, this movie starts with its foot firmly on the gas. There are about four major action set pieces in the movie but in between that, there are some mild skirmishes as well. This movie never stops running which is to it credit and detriment as well. By the final set piece while exhilarating, there can be some action fatigue settling in. Not to say that it is uninteresting but it can be too much.
In the two hours and twenty minutes, the character moments can be lost in the shuffle. Captain America, Thor and Iron Man are characters who don’t really need that much time developed to them as they are the ones who have their own movies outside of The Avengers. That is not to say Captain America and Iron Man do have subtle moments hinting at future movies more specifically “Captain America: Civil War” as the foundation is laid for that movie. Thor gets the short stick here as he does get his own side plot, it is obvious that it has been chopped and thus leaves the viewer somewhat confused as to what they just witnessed. The only thing one can take away is that it is there to set up “Thor: Ragnarok”. Hawkeye, Black Widow and The Hulk are the three without their own movies and their interactions provide much of the emotional beats within the film especially Hawkeye as he provides much of the human element. Nick Fury returns but he is basically an exposition tool and appears just enough to not be considered a cameo. His role probably could have been cut entirely and given to the characters to figure out themselves.
In terms of new characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, are characters with an arc but barely at that. We do learn their origins and motivations but it is given the bare minimum. If one says that they could not connect with them, it would be hard to disagree. However a character with even less screentime but makes the most is The Vision. A late minute addition, The Vision is a character who makes the most out of his limited time and certainly leaves an impression. This may be due to the fact that since he was such a late addition, he was given a lot more moments to stand out in order to compensate.
When it comes to Ultron himself, he is a completely different character from his comic book version. While the comic version is emotionless, the movie version is emotional. This is definitely an interesting choice to take the character. While he certainly leaves an impression, it is really hard to get a grip on what his motivations are. Upon second viewing they make a bit more sense but they could have devoted some more screentime into this aspect.
Joss Whedon had an incredible task here. The cast of the movie is huge and there are many set pieces to juggle. This all should ultimately be a victory for him. However one can tell that there was certainly room for more. It seems that more time was used to set up future movies instead of focusing on the movie at hand. There is also his trademark humor while at times works, sometimes it can be a detriment. It can turn drift into the territory of the “Avengers Comedy Hour” as everyone always has a wisecrack to make even when it feels that either the character wouldn’t say it, during that situation or sometimes a mix of the two. However other than a new quibbles here and there, this sequel stands on par with the first one. Truly an excellent film that deserves to be watched multiple times.