‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ disappoints

by Trevan McGee on May 1, 2015

in Print Reviews,Reviews

Rating: Minor Rock Fist Down

Sequels are tough. Even if you’ve made a wildly successful first film. Even if you’ve had more than six movies to establish your continuity. Even if you have the deep pockets of a major studio like Disney. Even if you’ve got a director who’s incredibly good at writing ensembles. Sequels are tough.

But even with all of those caveats, it’s hard to cut Avengers: Age of Ultron a lot of slack. Written and directed by Joss Whedon, the latest Avengers outing finds the team fully assembled and kicking ass right out of the gate, as they close in on a final HYDRA outpost. From the color palette to the kinetic way the opening is shot, it’s clear that Age of Ultron is different from its predecessor. It looks like a war movie.

The breakneck opening is quickly followed with celebration and the eventual creation of the movie’s titular foe. It’s interesting what Age of Ultron chooses to focus on and what it chooses to gloss over. The most interesting character in Age of Ultron is Ultron (played and voiced by James Spader). He’s inhuman, and he sees the foolishness of mankind and resents them for it. He can also be anywhere at once, making him an enemy that is ever-present. A character like this should be a treat for a writer like Whedon. Which makes the way he is handled all the more frustrating.

There’s no time spent on characterization in Age of Ultron. There’s a will they/won’t they romance that never really takes off. There’s some forced family time that seems less like a deepening of character and more like a lazy attempt at exposition while the next iterations of franchises are set up.

But maybe that’s the trouble with Age of Ultron. It’s shackled to its partner franchises. And because of that, there are never really any stakes. The final conflict lacks any emotional gravity because we know these characters aren’t at risk. It mistakes being busier for being bigger and while there are some truly rousing moments, they are surrounded by a lot of filler and some pretty cheap attempts at sympathy.

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