Today was a good day. I started the morning off with some skeet shooting; my first time ever even holding a real gun. Then we had lunch in The Eagle and the Child, the very pub that CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien and their other writing buddies used to hang out and talk about the fiction they’re working on. There might be a few pictures posted on this blog once I return to Canada. But most important of all, I watched Avengers: Age of Ultron a couple hours ago. Here are my spoiler-free thoughts.
The first Avengers movie is great, but it’s not without problems. First, it takes a while for the team to actually work together as a team. In a way this is fine; the build-up makes the final fight all the more worth it, as do the themes of coming together to take on a threat. It also gave most of its character development to those who appeared in their own movies, leaving very little room for Hawkeye. The worst problem is how the Chitauri are barely explained; all we know about them is that they’re an alien race looking to conquer Earth, and they’re relying on Loki.
This movie fixes both of those problems. The movie opens up with a fight scene featuring all 6 core Avengers in a fun fight scene that also introduces the Maximoff twins. In addition, this movie’s character focus is mostly on the Avengers who haven’t had a movie in a while, or not at all. We finally learn what motivates Hawkeye and what kind of life he has outside of his hero work. He’s also given a heroic speech at one point that’s pretty moving. Black Widow’s past is also explored further. That said, those who have had their own movies still have their own arcs; Thor’s being mostly build-up for his next movie, and Captain’s mostly being a continuation of the development he’s had in both Avengers and Winter Soldier. Really, the only heroe who doesn’t have much of a character arc is War Machine, but since he doesn’t have a huge effect on the plot, that’s not a problem.
Ultron is a fantastic villain. He’s menacing, but not without a touch of his “creator’s” sense of humour. He’s imposing, and his plan makes logical sense when you try to think of an AI program without an included value of life. He also keeps the plot moving at a quick pace.
As for the twins, they’re alright. Their pasts are explored and their close relationship is clear from the start. That said, they’re a bit underdeveloped when compared to the rest, and their personalities don’t stand out much. Quicksilver in particular isn’t as entertaining as his X-Men: Days of Future counterpart, although he’s probably closer to his comic counterpart in this movie. Interviews have made it clear that the Scarlet Witch’s powers are simplified to telekinesis and telepathy, and while it would have been neat to see her reality warping powers instead, powers are much easier to explain in a movie with 9 other Avengers. I won’t hold that change against this movie. That and they both drive the main plot forward and intensify tensions between the core Avengers.
The movie’s biggest downside is that parts of it feel rushed. There’s little explanation for why the opening action scene is happening, although it’s easy to figure out if your memory of Avengers and Captain America: Winter Soldier is good. There’s one particular villain who seems to go away too soon despite all the build-up he’s had in both the post-credits scene in Winter Soldier and the references in Agents of Shield. There are other scenes that feel a bit rushed, but saying too much would spoil things. These are minor problems though, and Joss Whedon’s extended edition announcement might fix the rushed feel. Maybe the extended edition will also expand on the twins’ personalities. One can hope.
Overall, I’d say Age of Ultron is a better than the first Avengers movie. The action is bigger, the villains are explained better, the character focus is much more balanced and at times, deeper. The movie is darker than the first, yet anyone who handled the first movie should be able to handle the second. I mention that mostly because I know someone with a little kid who loves Marvel movies. If you enjoyed the first one, then by all means watch this.