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.