Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 4, 2015

The Short Review:  I loved it.

Longer:  I expected to be entertained, I expected to have a good time and leave the theater feeling happy.  Eleven movies into the series (eleven!!!), I did not expect to be surprised, and this surprised me, because I didn’t just get a competent MCU movie.  I got an actual science fiction story dealing with the philosophical implications of AI technology, in which a rather large cast of characters each has some kind of satisfying story arc.  This had subtext and insight, managed a cool blending of science fiction and fantasy (which for me can be the great strength of superhero stories), and it may be the best of the bunch yet.

I still really like going to these on opening weekend, so I can be part of that ecstatic group gasp of “holy shit” when that one thing happens.  You know the one I’m talking about.

Note:  This movie is not for people who haven’t seen all the other movies.  Here’s a sort-of hilarious, sort-of annoying piece by a couple of people who saw Age of Ultron without seeing any of the preceding MCU movies.  Yes, they’re right, the movie absolutely does not stand up on its own as a work of filmic storytelling.  But you know what?  This movie isn’t for them.  They are not the target audience.  And seriously, if you haven’t bothered to see any of the other MCU movies, why would you bother going to this one?  It’s like giving someone one chapter of a novel and expecting them to understand the whole work.


Whedon still can’t get through a movie without impaling/shooting someone to motivate another character.  At least I wasn’t bracing for it this time.

A million Clint/Natasha fanfics died the death in this one.  And that’s really okay I think.  Clint’s role as “the normal one” of the bunch really gets played up — and that role is established as being really important for the rest of the group.  And I think it’s great that Nat is the one person Clint trusted with knowing about his family.  This is only one of the many great character threads running through this movie.  I love these people so much.


I had so much I was going to say, and it’s all scattered in my brain now.  Like about how well put together this is.  We didn’t need any “Avengers Assemble!” here because we did that in the last movie.  The first scene?  Pure, unbridled, beautiful action, pretty much immediately picking up after The Winter Soldier:  New Hydra has all those artifacts SHIELD collected, so we’re sending the A-list after the baddest of the bunch: Loki’s staff.  The movie doesn’t explain any of this, just throws you in and expects you to keep up because it knows we’re all smart cookies.  I love that!  (I am told the “Avengers Assemble” moment happened in the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD, which I have determinedly quit watching, and this is exactly why:  the show can’t stand on its own without the movies to prop it up, and that’s bad.  The movie?  Turns out it does just fine on its own.)

And then there’s that climactic battle that looks like it was storyboarded by Alex Ross.  My heart was full to bursting.

Examining my own responses:  I think I had lowered my expectations.  Unnecessarily, it turns out.  But I think I really did go in thinking, “It can’t possibly be that good.  It’ll be good, but not great, right?  Right???”  And then it was fantastic, and I hardly knew what to do with myself.

I probably ought to see it again, just to be sure, of course.  Heh.

Bonus Trailer Comments:

This was my first time seeing the trailers for the new Fantastic Four movie and that Batman v. Superman thing.  I think I’m going to look at the Fantastic Four as some weird surreal space opera thing. I think that’ll make it okay.  And I was on board with the B v. S trailer, right up until the “Do you bleed?” dialog.  And then I think I actually said out loud, Are you kidding me???  Sigh.


11 Responses to “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

  1. This is an awesome review. Good job! I loved the movie too. It was very entertaining! I wrote a review too on my blog and would lvoe for you to check it out. If you like it Id love a comment/follow/share! https://slatethesilverscreen.wordpress.com/2015/04/29/marvels-avengers-age-of-cameos/

  2. I enjoyed it for the most part. I do have a couple issues with it, though.

    – The whole relationship between Bruce and Natasha didn’t ring true for me, not least because nowhere in the previous MCU films was it even hinted at — the whole subplot felt contrived, especially when compared with the much better-written Clint subplot.

    – The film also felt over-edited in places, though I understand Whedon has said an extended cut is in the works for the DVD/Blu-ray release.

    Bottom line: while I liked it, I can definitely understand some of the frustrations others may have with it, especially when comparing it to the previous Avengers movie.

  3. Sean Fagan Says:

    I thought it was not as good as the first one, and it took me a while to figure out: I don’t think that Ultron was developed anywhere close to enough. It got about the same amount of screen-time as Loki did in the first Avengers movie, but that was after a significant amount of character development in the first Thor movie. (The final scene with Ultron had some impact, as it was, but imagine how much more it would have been if they’d been able to expand on its pain and fears, and how those drove Ultron to this particular conclusion.)

    I find it a bit hypocritical to complain about deus ex maxima in one of these movies, but… it was.

    I liked the Banner and Natasha relationship, a whole lot.

  4. I think you’re doing Agents of SHIELD an injustice. The second season has been an incredible improvement over the first season, and it’s actually been doing a really great job of standing on its own. In fact, the setup for Ultron in the latest episode really only made up a small part of the overall plot, and it looks like it’s going to be continuing that plot into the next episode with barely any acknowledgement of the events of Ultron as they happen. It’s taken the time to throw a few interesting twists in, with some great performances by folks like Kyle Maclachlan. It’s the only show I make sure not to miss week to week.

  5. LupLun Says:

    Second season part one was an improvement, but the second half backslid badly- way too much focus on table setting and Skye, plus the plot was going in four directions at once without a clear focus.

    Re: Ultron, to me the biggest and best twist in the movie was that Hawkeye actually has a wife and kids when he’s not out hero-ing. When you think about it, that completely uproots one of the core tenets of the setting: that superheroes can’t have anything approaching normal lives. I also loved Natasha’s brief but very telling interactions with Hawkeye’s family. Like how his daughter calls her “Auntie Nat.” I notice also: to this point in the MCU, she’s always been addressed as “Natasha” or “Romanov” or “Black Widow”. But after this, everyone’s calling her “Nat”. My high school english teacher once told the class that when a character takes a new name, pay attention; something significant has just happened.

    Actually, Widow seemed to get the lion’s share of character development this time out. Personally, I thought the Banner/Romanov romance was fine- an odd pairing, but it was written well and true to the characters. Make no bones about it, though: the main point of it was for Whedon to yell at the Marvel brass, “Hey, people! Give THESE two their movies!”

  6. Jo Anne Says:

    Is there more to it than explosions?

  7. carriev Says:

    Ah, there’s so much more than explosions! There’s a “Who can pick up Thor’s hammer?” contest that is hilarious and sets up an amazing bit later on! There’s actual science fiction in it! Tony’s psychological demons might actually destroy the world one of these days! Steve hallucinates a dance with Peggy! Argh!

    Clint has always called Natasha Nat, I think. But yes, what I took away from that is: Natasha is the one (apart from Fury) who knew about Clint’s family. That’s how much he trusts her. That’s big.

    I can tell you the exact moment AoS lost me: When Bobbi tells Mac, “Maybe we were wrong about Coulson.” That undid the last four episodes of plot, when nothing had significantly changed about the situation. That entire episode was people doing stupid things, and then explaining to each other why they have to do the stupid thing. Even the writers know this isn’t working.

  8. Sean Fagan Says:

    I can fankwank that scene in AoS: their entire lives were upended recently, and everything they believed turned out to be a lie. They were emotionally lost, and on finding that Coulson was keeping just as many secrets as Fury had, and that Adama and company weren’t, of course they glommed onto that. Without thinking it through. Because now they were in a transparent organization, and at the top levels.

    I would have liked to have seen some realization that, gosh, there actually were secrets being kept — I would particularly have liked for them to order such, and then realize the hypocrisy.

    But “Maybe we were wrong about Coulson” was a very damning moment for the characters, and the cast and production staff were able to pull it off.

    (Now, this is not me going into the stupidity of Adama and his group, as a dramatic device. It was very stupid. There were ways to improve it — comments from early on about all the splinter groups that were trying to recreate SHIELD. Using Nathan Petrelli to convey that would have been, finally, a good use of his character.)

    Man I can nerdrant a lot.

    I’ve been looking to Flash much more than AoS, every week.

  9. carriev Says:

    I’ve been loving the Flash so much these last few episodes I can hardly stand it. It started out so innocuous and it’s becoming positively epic in scope. Plus, “Wait, is Iris the only one who doesn’t know?”

    Yes, yes she is.

  10. Sean Fagan Says:


  11. howardbrazee Says:

    Too me, Avengers is still about Steed and Mrs. Peal.

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