Joss Whedon has done it again, delivering an entertaining superhero movie with a vast cast and multiple moving parts. Almost purely an action film, Avengers: Age of Ultron finds the Marvel superhero team fighting an AI partly designed by Iron Man himself, billionaire tech inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and programmed to protect Earth. Unluckily for the Avengers, the peacekeeping Ultron program (voiced by James Spader) slips into the Internet, picks up a couple of allies (i.e. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, played by Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olson), builds a robotic army, and threatens the end of humanity instead. In-fighting, relationship issues, and some nightmarish visions tailored for the heroes by the Scarlet Witch threaten the unity of the Avengers, but in the end they save the day together.
The film moves along a fairly quick pace; dialogue is delivered fast and thick and there’s plenty of jumping from scene to scene in order to keep an eye on all the characters. The core Avengers team—Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye—share screen time not only with each other but also with plenty of new characters, such as the aforementioned Ultron, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch, as well as the Vision (Paul Bettany). There are also cameos from other Marvel films: Nick Fury, James Rhodes/War Machine, Sam Wilson/Falcon, Heimdall (just so the film isn’t too white), Maria Hill, and Agent Peggy Carter (or too testosterone-heavy) make appearances. The oversaturation of characters is distracting, but the worst is the sudden and unnecessary appearance of Hawkeye’s back-story and family, which added nothing to the film. Some of the action scenes dragged, particularly whenever open-air fights ended up inside trains (which happened more than once!), but the opening fight was pretty great, utilizing the appearance of a long take (with so much CGI, long takes don’t really have the same cachet, do they?) and letting each Avenger do what they do best.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Mjolnir-lifting competitions