What a shame that Tony Stark didn’t use his vast wealth to purchase a DVD copy of Terminator 2. If he had the billionaire philanthropist playboy would have learned what a bad idea it is to develop AIs. When the Avengers wrestle away control of Loki’s sceptre, from the clutches of Hydra, the genius also known as Iron Man uses the Asgardian staff to complete his Ultron programme. Stark hopes to delegate the responsibility of protecting Earth to machines. Unfortunately for him the plan backfires when Ultron gains sentience and a powerful robotic body. In a twist you can see coming a mile away, Ultron determines that the best course of action for saving the planet is to eradicate the globe’s biggest threat… namely the human race!
I am starting to suffer a little from robot fatigue. After watching the first two Iron Man films I have had my fill of superheroes battling evil versions of Tony Stark’s armour. Ultron and his army of replicas regrettably has Marvel reusing that idea yet again. Given the rich selection of comic book villains available to choose from, I can’t help but wonder why some other antagonist wasn’t picked instead for a live action adaptation. On the plus side Ultron has some flesh and blood underlings assisting him in the form of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The enhanced humans (don’t call them mutants or Fox will sue) have made a pact with Ultron as they blame Stark Industries for their parents’ deaths. Scarlet Witch has the power of boobs, energy projection and mind manipulation whilst Quicksilver is a speedster who is less cool than his X-Men movie doppelganger.
Given that the synopsis outlined above is fairly straightforward you might be wondering how the writers stretched out the plot into a 140-minute feature. The answer to that question is dull side stories. After being relegated to the role of indoctrinated lackey in the first Avengers flick, Hawkeye is given more screen time courtesy of some family scenes. What’s this? Clint has kids and a wife? Wow, how riveting… not. Another sub-plot that I didn’t care for was the crowbarred romance between Black Widow and Bruce Banner. If Banner was still played by dreamy Ed Norton I could understand why Widow would be physically attracted to him, but it’s more of a stretch when Mark Ruffalo is playing the part. Perhaps the Beauty and the Beast love story was inserted to give geeks, who flock to these films, hope that poindexters can indeed attract supermodels.
My rating for Avengers: Age of Ultron is a three out of five. Thanks to the flashy action and funny one-liners the movie is entertaining. Avengers Assemble was more enjoyable however, as it was better paced and had the novelty factor of being the first A-list superhero team up. It’s probably for the best that director Joss Whedon has since left the Marvel cinematic universe, because the MCU releases that followed his departure have been more to my liking. When compared against Age of Ultron I found Ant-Man, Civil War and Doctor Strange to be wittier, smarter and more original respectively. Whedon relies on quips and character deaths too often when it comes to filmmaking. The end result is stories that are fun at first, but lack substance the longer they go. Maybe that explains why all his shows end up getting cancelled?
Blaming Whedon exclusively for Age of Ultron’s faults would be unfair though. Regardless of who was sitting in the director’s chair, there is no escaping how the source material hamstrings Age of Ultron’s script. The tale of a mechanical protector who turns on his creators is fine for a sixties graphic novel, but comes across as cliché in 2015. Ultron’s portrayal doesn’t help matters either. Despite appearing sinister in the trailers, thanks to James Spader’s vocal delivery, in the movie itself the character comes across as goofy. Like a teen with daddy issues, he is prone to outbursts whenever Stark is mentioned. Poor Tony. Everyone hates his guts. I still don’t get why Quicksilver wants him dead. It’s not Stark’s fault that someone used his weapons to kill mummy. That’s akin to hating the Volkswagen CEO, instead of the driver, when an automobile squishes your cat.