It has been 3 years since the big screen debut of ‘The Avengers‘, a feat I thought would only remain a cool but implausible idea in film. I was young and naive. It hulk smashed the Box Office whilst impressing both fans and critics alike. Now we have the sequel, a big part in the transition into Marvels next phase of films. This time round our team of heroes have been around the block a few times and are continually striving to nullify HYDRA. With S.H.I.E.L.D still in pieces and no obvious saviour aside from the heroes, Tony Stark moves forward with his Ultron programme. A peace keeping program that would reduce the need for the Avengers and provide a defence for any hostile threat to the earth. Unfortunately the Ultron program fails and a new, dangerous threat seeks to provide it’s own version of peace, by wiping out the human race.
We are in the midst of film history, in decades there will be books and studies on the effect of the Marvel Universe on film and cinema. A resounding success, a beacon of light that currently keeps people coming to the cinema. As the success continues, more and more people will begin to ask, how long will it last? Will we hit a saturation point? After watching ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ I am very happy to say the gravy train isn’t stopping any time soon. The first film surprised many with its successful mix of action and comic relief as well as carefully balancing huge characters screen time. The sequel is just as action packed, just as fun and just as awesome as its predecessor.
Now some might want bigger and better for the sequel, but I think Joss Whedon and the team have done an excellent job in keeping it in line with the first film. Not in terms of story but in terms if preventing the thing that ruins most franchises and films, escalation. If they had amped up and escalated here they would then be stuck in pattern of constantly trying to out do the previous film or risk poor reception. As they clearly have a plan in place for where the Marvel films are going they have to play there cards close to their chest. If they go all out too soon it will have a knock on effect for the rest of the franchise. This is something that the ‘Fast & Furious‘ franchise has been doing for a few years, and with ‘Fast 7‘ escalation finally caught up with them. This however does not mean that ‘Age of Ultron‘ is light on action.
Joss Whedon has provided action sequences that are not only entertaining but brilliant to watch. The opening sequence which involves the Avengers raiding a suspected Hydra facility is a constantly moving, fluid piece of action cinema that Michael Bay could only dream of pulling off. There is no prolific use of quick cuts or slow motion, this is fast paced entertainment. It also just doesn’t focus on one character either, in many of the set pieces there are multiple things going on within one frame, just adding to the scale and entertainment. Whedon has also given us shots that feel like they have just fell straight from a comic onto the screen and it works so well. For a director whose credits are primarily for TV shows Whedon has shown how much skill he has as a director, and his passion for the stuff he is working on.
The pacing is a bit up and down, but that is down to big action opening of the film which is something you just do not want to sustain throughout an entire film. It’s not a negative on the film just something to be mindful of when watching. Despite this for a film that is over 2 hours long it absolutely flew by. There is more screen time for The Hulk and Hawkeye, and neither of their presence feels forced. Keeping them both away from their own films makes their inclusion here feel exclusive, and it works. I’m not sure if I’d enjoy the rampaging of The Hulk as much in the Avengers if I’d seen it a couple of times in the lead up to this.
The new additions to the cast fit in well, Elizabeth Olsen & Aaron Taylor Johnson both played the Maximoff twins well with the screen time they had. Scarlet Witch was more interesting than Quicksilver, partly down to her powers and partly being a better actor. It doesn’t help Quicksilver had a better showing in ‘X:Men: Days of Future Past‘ when it was released last year. The only thing I would change are the accents, they talk with an Eastern European type accent and it borders on sounding caricature. James Spader is a revelation as the voice of Ultron, but that was evident in the trailers for the film, thankfully the rest of the time he is on screen he brings Ultron to life. The addition of The Vision is an interesting one, it works and I liked the character despite the brief screen time, but how big a part he will have in the upcoming films I am unsure.
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is the type of summer blockbuster that so many films have strived to emulate in the past, it is essentially the whole package. Great action, witty comic relief, and inspired direction. It should appeal to both fans of the comics and the films and I’d imagine the Box Office is on the verge of another hulk smash.