Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgard
Rated: PG-13 (intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments)
When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, things go horribly wrong and it’s up to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
By Cole Schneider
I cannot explain how much I wanted to fully love and fully embrace “Avengers: Age of Ultron”. I do love and embrace the first Avengers film. Its mix of characters, action, and wit was swift and loads of fun. Largely, this installment succeeds on those terms.
The best element of the reunion was the characters, action, and wit, though each in lesser ways. The characters are still charming to be around and the scenes where they are simply hanging out with one another are far more entertaining than when they are actually avenging anything. Some of the action scenes are explosive, but the aggregate doesn’t have the same punch the first one had. The wit is turned up to eleven, with a joke rate five times that which existed in “Avengers” and although the movie is really funny, the banter is generally lessened by the insistence of one-liners rather than them cropping up more organically.
As such, the major problem with the film may just be diminishing returns. However, the problems do run much deeper. Here is a film whose primary purpose is to look forward (the end of the film makes this abundantly clear) as part of the Marvel-franchise-machine; all the while the film forsakes the entries before it. The former is a frustrating tactic that can be excused, but Marvel cannot insist both. The narrative structures of “Iron Man 3” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” are swept under a rug in favor of a narrative too sprawling to adequately tell. In all, “Avengers 2” is flexes its muscles as a story, but it’s really impostering a machine.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Avengers: Age of Ultron
By Matt Greene
Beginning with 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel’s franchise is a behemoth larger than any of its heroes or villains. While much of that is due to its box-office numbers and zeitgeist power, its quality and soul are the things that make it stand apart, and Ultron is no different. Maybe the novelty of seeing these demi-gods on the big-screen just hasn’t soured for me yet, but I found Ultron’s nerd-splosion to be (mostly) unendingly awesome. It may have an over-abundance of characters and too many battles, but it’s also quick witted, thematically grounded, and immensely entertaining enough to satisfy any fan.
This Comic-Con-come-to-life adventure kicks off with our guys fighting side-by-side, a truly cinematic moment of epic proportions that doesn’t disappoint. They are brought together to fight Ultron, a botched creation of Stark’s whose power and ruthlessness are equally endless. As the plot unfolds, it feels more like a well-constructed bridge to better (and darker) places than a destination unto itself, but the wonderful performances and dialogue guide the festivities delightfully. Deeper, though, is a recognizable political element to the proceedings; Cap and Tony stand-in for our own two-party government system, while showing presenting these disparate ideals as less black-and-white as we often think.
Sure, Ultron is lesser in almost every way to the original, which was arguably the greatest superhero movie of all-time. People sick of superhero epics will most assuredly not be persuaded by Ultron. However, those of us who still find endless joy in likable characters, snappy humor, and strong themes in their action movies will be far disappointed.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars