May 4, 2015

Movie Review: Avengers - Age of Ultron - A Little Fun, a Little Meh

So, after years of waiting and years of build up, Avengers: Age of Ultron has finally arrived. As expected, it was a box office beast in its opening weekend, taking in more than $191 million on its way to becoming the second biggest opening film of all time (trailing only the $207 million take of its predecessor). Now, the crazy thing is that this is being seen as a disappointment, it had been expected to surpass the first Avengers film. One has to wonder what it was that kept it from taking the record, but then you have to think, it still took in $191 million! That is nothing to sneeze at. I also have to say I was amused at the idea that the boxing match had an effect on it. Geez, it made $191 million! Just be happy.

I decided to wait out the movie's opening weekend and saw it on Monday afternoon, with a small relaxed crowd. It was rather pleasant. Granted, I am pretty sure you could care less about my day, and even less about what I have to say about it. Still, you are here! As for the movie itself, I enjoyed it, yes; however, I did not love it by a long stretch. It feels a lot like a middle than a whole. The opening feels like being dropped into the trailer for the video game before moving onto the side story that gets us a little closer to the main story.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is an exciting, big loud, mostly fun, summer action movie. I just did not find it to be an exciting movie in and of itself. It is kind of sad as there is a lot of interesting stuff in the movie, ideas, character moments, and the like. There is a feeling, to me at least, that a lot of connective tissue was excised to keep the run time reasonable. The editing feels off and plays in favor of the action. Action is not a problem, but it looks like we cut to characters making decisions to do something based on footage we do not see, this makes their actions just seem weird, that there IS something missing.

I liked the personal moments, getting a little more time with Hawkeye, learning a bit more about Black Widow, plus the budding relationship between Banner and Natasha (although that last bit did not really have the best of build up or chemistry). I also liked the whole AI thing and Ultron as Skynet feel that the villain brought (which makes the widening release of Ex Machina interesting considering some similar elements).

While discussing the movie with some friends, I found it makes it sound like I hated the movie. I don't, I enjoyed it, I just don't love it and I do not feel that it could be the best it could be. While there are some great one liners throughout, many of them do not feel organic to the film, more like they were wedged in to be funny.

Among my favorite elements was Tony Stark's guilt. His desire to safeguard the world, combined with his rather sizable ego (and intelligence) lead to a hasty decision that leads to the entirety of this movie. His reaction to it and ability to hide his true feelings is fascinating. It does not hurt that the rest of the team has some great reactions as well. On top of that, his presence and the impact it had on Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), who turns out to be one of the best characters in the movie.

While there are certain narrative issues and logic leaps, I enjoyed my time in the Avengers world, it just didn't seem quite as fun this time. There is some good action and some good moments, but the flow was off and the overall fun wasn't there. The funny thing is that it reminded me of a quote I heard from George Lucas on one of the Star Wars commentaries about some people taking Star Wars too seriously, while others not serious enough, and how they were always intended to be not entirely serious rip roaring adventures. It is a fine balance to achieve and maintain, a balance that was not quite achieved here.

Ultron is a fine villain and the introduction of the twins and Vision was done quite well, it is just not what I was hoping for. I think in addition to the movie not being up to snuff, there is the issue of how Marvel announces their map years in advance. It sort of sucks drama out of the storytelling by knowing what movies are coming and what characters are involved. It is like what is happening on The Walking Dead, there does not seem to be a threat to any of the main characters. If there is no threat, why should I care? I would like some surprise brought back (and this can be applied to movies in general and the internet age, too much information is available).

In any case, it is a fun movie. I am glad I saw it. Now I am ready for the rest of what the summer has to offer.


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