I am adamant on not giving Avengers: Age of Ultron a review until I finish my reviews for the other feature films in the Marvel Universe that I haven’t reviewed yet (I might give the one-shots and the shows in the Universe a run-around, but that’s a huge “might”. The only show I’ve given a view to is Daredevil).
However, given my obvious speed with these sort of things, I think it’s fair to say the movie might lose relevance by the time I get to that full-length review, even if we’re getting moments like Joss Whedon’s (in my opinion, unwarranted) twitter bashing which are as eventful as anything else that went on in the press tour for the film itself.
So that plus the fact that I’ve been asked by friends almost immediately after the movie premiered for my opinion on the flick, I will be posting another SHORT CUT review for Avengers: Age of Ultron for everyone to get a quick capsule idea of how I thought. And the format will be lifted, based on a very entertaining and enjoyable review of The Avengers thanks to Tim Brayton at Antagony & Ecstasy (a blog I very much admire; I don’t know if he knows I exist though).
So try to run with me as I sum up what I can as best and fast as I can:
Most Improved Actor: While I can’t say any actors are worse in their roles than before, I honestly can’t tell you which actor really ended up being better than last time. The closest I can think of is Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, but I am adamant that this feeling is more because Hawkeye actually has shit to do rather than Renner being more in-tune with his character. He’s still the most ordinary performance. I can tell you the actor that most improved the way his character was created and that is, hands down, James Spader as the villain Ultron. Joss Whedon’s writing does Ultron now favors as it force-feeds quips into a large striking villain that could have been so much menacing and threatening if he didn’t feel (deliberately, but still underwhelmingly) like an offshoot of Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) personality. And casting the single creepiest actor in Hollywood that isn’t, well, creepy in real life makes it so much more disappointing, but I do insist that Spader’s wit and voice still allows Ultron’s unfortunate dialogue to roll out effortlessly.
Most Improved Character: Like I said, Hawkeye. They may as well have called this movie Avengers: Age of Hawkeye. They finally found a way to fit Clint Barton into the plot and development (well, what little there was). Too bad, he’s the only one.
Least Improved Actor: Once again, they’re more or less the same and while Chris Hemsworth isn’t doing himself any favors as Thor that way, the true LVP of the film goes to Aaron-Taylor Johnson who is still getting more and more closer to being my least favorite actor in film so far. This time it’s because he’s playing Sokovian orphan/activist/political prisoner(?)/guinea pig Pietro Maximoff as a super smug White Privilege poster boy who probably hasn’t heard of a Slavic country in his life, topped off with an atrociously cartoonish accent for the character. Elizabeth Olsen is not hugely better as Pietro’s also-shit-accented twin sister Wanda Maximoff, but at least she’s trying to be darker and brooding.
Least Improved Character: I want to say it’s either Stark, Captain America (Chris Evans), or Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), but I can’t lie. While all of these characters are written in manners so retroactive to their arc and development over the last few movies (Cap almost took this round purely on how annoying the “Language!” running joke got) they’ve appeared in, Black Widow was actually astonishingly well-developed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Avengers after starting off as space-stealing eye candy in Iron Man 2, only to return to damsel in distress mode during the latter part of this movie. That and the moment she talks about her biological past proves to be the only time huge feminist icon Whedon doesn’t really know how to write about woman.
But I don’t think it’s worth the vitriol Whedon has been getting. And I especially don’t think her getting a love interest is a bad thing at all. What the fuck is wrong with you guys?
More or Less the Same: Thor was never any good but he’s not much worse here than he occasionally is. Still criminally underused, even worse than Hawkeye was in The Avengers. Like, what? I don’t want a trailer to Thor: Ragnarok! I want Avengers: Age of Ultron!
Most Impressive Debut: Wait to see me gush about Vision (Paul Bettany).
Aesthetic: Same shit as The Avengers with less freshness to it and a few more weaknesses – namely in sound (oh god, I will rip that sound mix apart!). But hey, there’s some cool long shots that harken back to Spielberg-like shot design. Still overall, Joss Whedon has never particularly been a great director. Nope.
Popcorn Movie Value: Again, almost the same damn shit as The Avengers. Hulkbuster vs. Hulk fight is one of the better moments of the film with its balance between slapstick and consequence feeling so fun, and the opening battle is kinetic as fuck. The finale is a mess itself, but it’s also the only moment the film manages to feel as BIG as it tries to be.
Plot: It ain’t overstuffed. It’s undercooked.
Meh, I thought it was ok. If you’re into the MCU (which I’m personally getting tired of), you might love it.