When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and it is up to the Avengers to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.
When are we going to reach the saturation point with superhero movies? There is almost one out every other month, and they increasingly veer to the formulaic than the innovative and interesting. Sadly, ‘Age of Ultron’ is both formulaic, but more criminally, it’s chronically boring. I really enjoyed the first ‘Avengers’ film and thought it did an excellent job of bringing together a wide and varied cast of superheroes, whilst matching them against one of the better villains in Tom Hiddleston’s Loki (the less said about the Chitauri the better). Part of what made ‘The Avengers‘ so enjoyable was its sense of fun, and whilst there are attempts to go for the same style of humour here, it doesn’t click as much. Joss Whedon’s style has always been focused on snappy dialogue but when your characters are supposedly fighting against a maniacal robot intent on world destruction, snappy one liners feels out of place. Do these guys not get scared? If they don’t, why should we care?
The premise is based around the creating of the aforementioned Ultron, a global defence program that Tony Stark is able to create with articifical intelligence discovered within Loki’s sceptre. Unsurprisingly, Ultron goes rogue almost instantly and the team are forced to come together to stop him. James Spader is good fun as ‘Ultron’, bringing some solid charisma to the role and his hammy voice acting makes Ultron’s presence enjoyable, although the less said about his boring army of CGI mechanical monsters the better. There are some enjoyable moments here (particularly Andy Serkis as a South African arms dealer), but the locations don’t really come to life, and it’s become old hat these days to see superheroes smashing up busy city centres. The plot is dreadfully boring and I found myself constantly clock watching throughout the film’s duration, whilst the action scenes are so poorly directed and edited to ‘Transformers‘ levels of bad that it’s hard to get a sense of who is supposed to be hitting who at any given time.
The film also struggles to merge the smaller members of the cast into the storyline, with characters such as Don Cheadle’s War Machine randomly popping in and out of the story when the script requires it, and new characters Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) failing to get much screentime. The idea of Ultron as the main villain should be menacing but he’s defeated with relative ease and we really lack the sense of danger that I feel is necessary to be truly invested in the plot. On the positive side, the performances are pretty solid throughout, with some good character work done on Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson continuing to shine as Black Widow in some memorable scenes with Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner.
Overall, ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is a bloated, boring mess of a superhero film, relying too much on the performances from a strong cast to elevate a staid plot and poorly directed action sequences. Not that the filmmakers are likely to care – this’ll be the latest in the Marvel canon to break a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, ensuring that these films continue to dominate cinema screens up and down the country for some time yet.
Directed By: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Linda Cardellini, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgard and Samuel L. Jackson