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Wick's Review

Created May 09, 2015 06:22PM PST • Edited Aug 20, 2017 06:27PM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Really Great 4.5

    Avengers: Age of Ultron is Avengers-worthy, as proven by its $200 million opening weekend and its Marvel-ous mix of human-scale comedy-drama amidst earthshaking fantasy. It’s also studded with LOLs, and not all them from Downey. He gets plenty, but the comic relief is more broadly spread around this time.

    However, it’s wearisome trying to keep up with the plot, especially when it takes long detours into the mind-control of half a dozen key characters, each of whom have their own neuroses. In writer-director Joss Whedon’s defense, it all seems to hold together, in a Marvel Cinematic Universe kind of way, even if we puny humans have trouble keeping up. Hence, Avengers 2 is really great entertainment, albeit not perfect.

    Whedon’s movie opens in classic Marvel fashion with a bravura action scene that reintroduces the characters, including their powers and idiosyncrasies, sets the stage for this episode and tees up the credits. Whew, even writing that sentence wasn’t simple, so consider the challenge of reentering the Avengers’ complex universe as a casual fan after three years away. Yet the movie barely slows down for exposition.

    This is all the more remarkable because Age of Ultron introduces several new Avengers, expands the usage of several other lightly-used Avengers, and tees up the next episode, which apparently will be Captain America: Civil War. If it wasn’t all so tremendously entertaining, it’d be like a rigorous history lesson.

    Tremendously entertaining it is. So assemble Avenger fans, assemble. Oh, I guess you already knew that.

  3. Very Good 3.5

    There are eleven Avengers by the time the closing credits roll, so you may need a program to keep them straight. Spoiler alert: several become Avengers after starting as enemies.

    • Robert Downey Jr. continues as Super-Ironic Man, the most entertaining Avenger. Quips and foibles galore define him as much as his armored suit.
    • Chris Hemsworth’s Thor follows closely behind, since the ever-present irony of a God amongst men is easy to mine, which he effortlessly does.
    • Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner / Hulk remains the most problematic Avenger for me, mostly because the Big Green Id continues to be the most ridiculous Avenger in both concept and CG execution. That said, Ruffalo easily essays the quixotic scientist that is Banner.
    • Chris Evans’ Captain America has become a comforting centerpiece of the ensemble.
    • Scarlett Johansson has another good turn as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, albeit her powers don’t seem well defined. Worse, her lines aren’t terrific, nor her quip delivery.
    • Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is also somewhat ill-defined in terms of his Avenger-worthy powers. Fortunately Renner and we the audience are gifted some very funny lines making fun of a guy with a bow-and-arrow in the middle of a superhero battle.
    • Don Cheadle’s Rhodey / War Machine continues to underwhelm. Fortunately he’s onscreen briefly.
    • Anthony Mackie’s Falcon likewise underwhelms. Perhaps he’ll make an impact in future episodes.
    • Aaron Taylor-Johnson is barely recognizable as Quicksilver.
    • Elizabeth Olsen is also somewhat confusing as Scarlet Witch. However, she can act, as she proved in Godzilla.
    • Paul Bettany gets an upgrade as Jarvis / Vision.
    • Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is always a solid and welcome presence. Always.
    • Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill cuts a suitably impressive figure.
    • Claudia Kim’s Dr. Helen Cho gives the movie a welcome Korean angle.
    • Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter cameos effectively. Same with Idris Elba’s Heimdall and Stellan SkarsgÃ¥rd’s Erik Selvig.
    • James Spader voices Ultron with just the right tone of banal malevolence.
    • Thomas Kretschmann makes a perfect east-European warlord.
    • Andy Serkis flashes by so quickly, he gets lost in the swirl.

    Stan Lee’s cameo is as a veteran of Omaha Beach who gets seriously sloshed on alien booze. Here’s to ya!

  4. Male Stars Great 4.0
  5. Female Stars Very Good 3.5
  6. Female Costars Very Good 3.5
  7. Male Costars Great 4.0
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Joss Whedon and the Marvel crew wisely stick to their knitting: exploiting the well-honed storyboards laid down over decades of Marvel Comics. Thus what appears convoluted on screen is, well, convoluted, yet proven. Even more, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s creations, as interpreted by Whedon, maintain Marvel’s trademark neuroses and foibles. This makes for plenty of charming and even affecting scenes, e.g., when the Avengers sit around reveling over a victory. Taking turns trying to lift Thor’s magical hammer, they endear themselves yet more to each other, and to us.

    Whedon gets the credit for embedding antecedents in even these lighthearted scenes that get picked up later. Such supremely accomplished filmmaking isn’t surprising from the man who nailed the first Avengers.

  9. Direction Really Great 4.5
  10. Play Really Great 4.5
  11. Music Really Great 4.5
  12. Visuals Really Great 4.5
  13. Content
  14. Risqué 1.9

    Some subtle double entendres liven up the dialogue for we adults in the audience. As to the superpowered violence, it’s all bloodless and hence PG-13.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Fierce 2.5
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.6
  18. Fantasy 4.3

    The Marvel Cinematic Universe disrespects Conservation of Energy most of all, with other Laws of Science also treated like Silly Putty. Fantastic fakery aside, Marvel movies are always interesting for their deeper meanings and topical allusions.

    • Avengers: Age of Ultron is every bit the post-human human-consciousness movie that Ex Machina is, even if Marvel’s movie gets written off as mere popcorn bait, while Alex Garland collects deserved hosannas as a SciFi seer.
    • The conflict in this classic Marvel movie is between fallible good guys and truly evil bad guys, or a bad robot in the case of Ultron. Some in Hollywood deride this as fascism. It’s not. It’s deeply American. Anyway, no wonder those who don’t get that don’t make broadly popular movies.
  19. Circumstantial Surreal 2.9
  20. Biological Fantasy 5.0
  21. Physical Fantasy 5.0


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May 18, 2015 6:49PM

Regarding BrianSez’s Review
Great review Bri. Tough but fair.