First, let me state that I am an unabashed Joss Whedon fan. From Angel to Buffy, Cabin in the Woods to Dollhouse, and of course Firefly, I pretty much watch anything he creates.
I was on a business trip in Canada when the first Avengers movie came out, and we went to a midnight show the morning it opened. Since I was on another business trip, this time to Chicago, when Age of Ultron came out, I decided to do the same.
I didn’t really care for it.
Now before all the haters come out, I’m glad I saw the film and don’t feel that it wasted several hours of my life (unlike some movies) but I was disappointed.
What follows is why, and warning, spoilers a’plenty. It’s funny, when I review a movie I like it is easy to describe it with few spoilers, but in giving a slightly negative review to something with such a fan base I feel compelled to defend my view with examples.
Here, I’ll add some carriage returns so you can still look away. Last chance.
Okay, the movie starts out with our heroes raiding a Hydra base looking for Loki’s scepter. So far so good, although I can’t really remember when the scepter got lost but I went with it. Things seem to be going our team’s way until two mutants, erm, excuse me “enhanced humans”, named Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch join the fray. While the Avengers are ultimately successful in retrieving the scepter, the Scarlet Witch plants a vision into Tony Stark’s brain that he would be responsible for the death of his companions, and by extension, the world.
Liked that part, so I’m pretty jazzed.
Next, we’re back at Avenger HQ and Tony’s vision still haunts him. He has been working on project “Ultron” which would create a global defense system that will render the Avengers unnecessary, and all he lacks is the AI to animate it. In experimenting on Loki’s scepter, he and Bruce Banner discover that there is an AI in the gem. When they attempt to use it to complete the Ultron project, they unleash the intelligence who is now intent on destroying Stark and the rest of the world’s humans.
Here’s where I start to lose it. Let me state for the record that I am a huge fan of James Spader and I loved they way he brought Ultron to life. But I had a really hard time understanding why Ultron would immediately develop such a hatred for Tony Stark. There was almost no creator/creation interaction, and there was a lot of focus on Tony’s offhand comment “Peace in our time” (which I took as sarcastic WWII reference). Anyway, the monster is alive, angry, and after confronting the Avengers, he escapes (his consciousness can travel via the Internet).
And it went downhill from there.
The rest of the movie is pretty much the Avengers chasing Ultron around. Ultron builds himself a new, coolio body (which was much more expressive than I was expecting – I was thinking it would be more like V in V for Vendetta) as well as an army of robot soldiers he controls. He also goes to collect the remaining world’s supply of vibranium (the metal used in Captain America’s shield) and the Avengers attempt to stop him. This results in the Scarlet Witch putting the whammy on the Hulk and Stark has to don “Veronica” – a Hulk-busting suit – to subdue him. Ultron escapes with the metal and the Avengers are blame for the resulting destruction.
Okay, the suit was cool and I can still hear the line “go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep” but it really didn’t advance the plot much.
The Avengers retreat to Hawkeye’s house in the country, where we find out he has a family, and there is a period of “character building”. I almost fell asleep at this point, although that probably had as much to do with the reclining chairs at the AMC 600 as the movie (really nice theatre). Yes, I know that super hero movies can’t be all fight scenes and gadgets, but I found myself not caring by this point.
Now, the coolest thing, to me, about the movie was the introduction of another infinity stone. See, Ultron wants a more realistic (i.e. non-mechanical) body and he is using tech to build one. While it is growing in a capsule-like thing, he cracks open the gem in Loki’s scepter to reveal a smaller yellow gem, which he places on the new body’s forehead. Once the body is ready he plans to upload his consciousness into it. He must know the gem is powerful.
One of my all time favorite movies is Guardians of the Galaxy. As it was mentioned in that film, there are six powerful infinity stones in existence. The purple one is featured in that movie, and the Tesseract from the Thor films is the blue one. Now we see the yellow one, setting the stage for the upcoming Infinity War when Thanos attempts to collect all six.
Now, that is cool.
Anyway, Ultron is interrupted by the Avengers before he can complete the transference into the new body, and they make off with the capsule. Stark then puts J.A.R.V.I.S, an AI, into the body and there is a big fight scene between the Avengers as they attempt to decide if this is a good idea or not. Thor settles it by smashing the capsule holding the body with his hammer, and the resulting lightning (“It’s Alive!”) causes it to awake. The new entity is called “Vision” and features the infinity stone on its forehead.
Then the film heads toward the inevitable climax, which was pretty much the same as the end of the first Avengers movie. The team (now augmented by Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch who have switched sides) swat a bunch of flying things out of the air. Ultron and Vision fight (à la Loki and Hulk), and eventually Tony Stark flies into a glowing hole and sets off an explosion.
I know this movie wasn’t easy to make. You are dealing with a huge cast of characters, many of whom have their own entire franchises and many who could, and you have to cram a lot of plot development into less than three hours. I wish there was more reason for Ultron’s hatred and more interaction between him and his creator. I wish there was less sitting around the farm and more humor. And I wish the ending wasn’t so derivative of the first movie.
So I didn’t really care for it and I probably could have waited until it came out on Blu-ray.
Before all the flaming starts, please understand that it’s okay if you liked it. In fact, I hope you did – it doesn’t not make you a bad person. It just wasn’t to my taste.
I am, however, now very eager to see the Infinity War. I love Thanos as a villain and the whole infinity stones back story is cool. Thor mentions that four infinity stones have surfaced, but I don’t know where the green one appears. Perhaps an upcoming movie? Guess we’ll find out.
[UPDATE: Ken Kennedy pointed out that the fourth “red” stone was in Thor: The Dark World. Don’t know where I got that is was the green stone in my head, and while I saw that movie it must have slipped my mind.]