The Avengers: Age Of Ultron(2015)
- RatedPG13 /GenreAction, Adventure, Fantasy
To Marvel fans, Christmas comes early this week.
In fact, if you’re a bona fide otaku, there will be several Christmases this year.
Like jolly Saint Nick, Joss Whedon—yes he looks jolly, bearded, slightly rotund—is a cult icon. Whedon, he of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, ‘Firefly’ and ‘Dollhouse’, is also the nerd king of the universe. And the gift he bears is a two-plus hours of visual brawn, unexpected heartbeats and welcome humour.
A gift welcomed by the millions of devotees who subscribe to the comic gospel of Marvel.
Whedon’s back with the sequel ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, which gives us a bigger villain to hate and an even bigger roster of heroes to root for.
When Marvel Studios gave Whedon the keys to its comic-book kingdom in 2010, the result was not only a film that Hulk-smashed the box office but proved that franchise tie-ins need not be uninspired drivel.
‘Age of Ultron’ starts with Earth’s spandex-ed saviours doing what they do best: avenging the misdeeds by the nefarious Hydra at its last stronghold in the fictional European country of Sokovia.
They’re there to apprehend Hydra’s chief scientist Baron von Strucker who has been tinkering with human experimentation using Loki’s magical-alien sceptre (see ending of ‘The Winter Soldier’).
Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Wanda and Pietro Maximoff | Photo: Disney
With some help from Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr) Iron Legion robots, Earth’s mightiest easily despatches von Strucker, his minions and retrieves the sceptre, but not before a pair of mysterious “gifted” twins – Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson) – messes with their heads.
Things go sideways (of course) when Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) start to tinker with the sceptre back at their lair, unleashing the formidable and malevolent foe that is the robot Ultron.
A corrupted brainchild of Stark, Ultron is hell-bent on the extinction of the Avengers, and later humanity.
MORE: inSing Movies 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' exclusive
Another villain, another threat, and our heroes must save the day, again.
Like the 2010 movie, ‘Age of Ultron’ is a lesson on teamwork and how to work well under stress if you have superhuman gifts or just know how to kick ass.
Typical Whedon-esque character-conflict studies aside, ‘Age of Ultron’ is way darker, weirder and more original than the original.
Shouldering the entire writing duties himself, Whedon has penned an engrossing film, filled with his trademark quips and one which comic book fans will hold close to their hearts.
Chris Hemsworth, Downey Jr. and Chris Evans' Thor, Tony Stark and Captain America | Photo: Disney
While it may share the epic scale and bombast of the original, ‘Age of Ultron’ feels like it has been ripped out of the comic books.
From frenetic action to the quiet human moments, every scene is crafted with finesse.
And the cast, many movies in, have grown into their characters. Even non-supers Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) and Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff) are given plenty to do.
But it is the voice of James Spader as Ultron, which steals the show. Dripping with malice, and possessing a warped sense of morality, Spader’s Ultron is the ‘The Blacklist’s’ "Red" Reddington tuned up to the nth degree. Spader's Ultron is akin to a spoilt child, playing in the sandbox, with a magnifying glass in hand and killing ants (read: us humans).
Points must also be given to Paul Bettany who finally gets his day in the sun as super-powered android Vision.
It’s a miracle that the movie didn’t crush under its own sheer enormity.
Similar to the first movie, every character gets a moment to shine and show us why they're so distinctive and engaging.
Olsen’s Scarlett Witch mind-bending powers is a good way for Marvel to add a bit of foreshadowing of the future movies.
But ultimately the film's filled with too many moving parts, some of which call attention to its narrative structure and number of shoehorned elements (especially as we approach the end of its 141 minutes).
And what would a superhero flick be without awesome special effects and a wave-after-wave action finale? Robots rule in ‘Age of Ultron’: As well as Stark’s mammoth Hulkbuster armour, Ultron’s army of sentient robots and Bettany’s larger-than-life Vision.
The film marks Whedon’s swan song in the Avengers director chair but it’s hardly the end of the saga. The two-part ‘Infinity War’ story has already been set in stone for 2018 and 2019, along with eight other Marvel titles.
‘Age of Ultron’ is a thrill ride by Joss Whedon, executed with style and energy. It gives fans with exactly what they desire, and ultimately deserve.
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ opens 23 April 2015