Avengers: Age of Ultron  collects literally everyone in the world worth mentioning and tosses at them a wisecracking robot (James Spader) who’s more confused about the way things are than he’ll ever let on. Diverse issues such as narcissism (Robert Downey Jr.), submission to authority (Chris Evans), immigration (Chris Hemsworth), birth control (Scarlett Johansson), witness protection programs (Jeremy Renner), and schizophrenia (Mark Ruffalo) are all explored in this crammed and vivid sequel from writer-director nerd god Joss Whedon. It should have been a good twenty minutes longer, but it could have been a good twenty minutes shorter.
Pure-spun silver. Although far pithier and wittier than the typical super-blockbuster, Whedon’s screenplay nevertheless feels as if it’s missing one final polish. The villainous robot Ultron, for instance, churns out gut-busting one-liners that are funny enough to forgive the fact that the reason why this machine is so sarcastic is never satisfactorily explained. Like the geekier and more sci-fi elements of the plot, audiences can simply surf the gist and pick up all they need to enjoy the story. An in-depth understanding of how this stuff works is optional. (Also Whedon apparently rips off his own “Dangerous” storyline from Astonishing X-Men but I only know that because a friend told me.)
Expensive to behold. No corners were cut on the visual effects, the costumes, or the production design, all of which are marvelous. Even if, in this day and age, a small town being turned into a meteor isn’t as awe-inspiring as it would have been thirty years ago, everything still looks beautiful… although Ben Davis’ cinematography doesn’t particularly convey any of these elements in any inspired way, and some scenes even betray Whedon’s history in television.
Use your words. This cast is the most likable thing since water in the desert. Classic stars Downey, Evans, and Hemsworth provide fruitful character entanglements; Renner’s underrated role is beefed up; Johansson is actually allowed to emote; Ruffalo is still the best actor in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Newcomers Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen swell the ranks, but while Taylor-Johnson gets a nice monologue and a neat catch-phrase, it’s Olsen, with her insane eyes, her uncanny movements, and her seductively angry accent, who steals the show. I’ve never seen so much nope and yep combined in one woman.
If this movie is for you, you’ve already seen it. If you’re unsure, the answer is “yes.”
Avengers: Age of Ultron