Film Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Credit: Archant

It’s time to assemble again!

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a movie of which much is expected. The 11th film in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and the second to feature the eponymous ‘superhero super-group’, has a high bar to beat. The first film is the third highest grossing film of all time, and was a massively entertaining film which managed to keep the different character plates spinning fairly successfully.

Joss Whedon, cult writer and director of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel and, more recently, Cabin in the Woods (along with Drew Goddard), is in charge again, as Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye team up once again (with a few new additions) to fight Ultron, a machine with a god-complex, built with good intentions by Tony Stark but bent on destroying humanity.

Clocking in at just shy of two and a half hours, AoU is an epic superhero extravaganza. Unlike the often dour, dark and overly-serious movies of the DC universe, Marvel have created a world of colour, humour and fun. The script sparkles with trademark Whedon one-liners and running jokes that entertain throughout. The action is grand and exciting, with the camera often moving incredibly smoothly through long tracking shots that encompass the whole battlefield.

Whedon has also managed to once again to be fairly successful in keeping almost all of the characters relevant and appealing. This includes doing what was almost thought impossible and making Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) interesting. Indeed, this is where AoU succeeds most. It’s humanity, and the relationships and conflicts between characters, is what works best. Hawkeye, Black Widow and The Hulk all develop massively, and in ways that seem pleasingly natural. Ultron (James Spader) is also a wonderfully darkly comic creation, both intimidating and fun in equal measure.

Of course, the film is not without flaws. The multitude of characters brought in from all across the Marvel universe makes it feel a tad full, although this does also make the film feel like part of a bigger world and not self-contained. The action can be a little relentless at times, and the running time leads to a somewhat uneven pacing in places. Whedon has proven himself a capable action director, but his skills have always been sharpest in little character moments and more of those would be welcome, but they get overshadowed by vehicles exploding and buildings collapsing.

These are ultimately minor niggles in what is a great addition to the MCU. This is Whedon’s last gig at the helm, so Avengers: Infinity Wars Parts 1 & 2 will be slightly different beasts, but he has laid the foundations for more great superhero work in the future.