Today is May 1 and the official kickoff to the summer movie season. Memorial Day used to be the jumping off point, but that got abolished a long time ago. Now, the first Friday in May is the beginning and always with the latest movie from Marvel Studios. The summer of 2015 starts with what will probably be the #1 movie of the summer and possible the year, “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Please read on as no spoilers will given outside of what has been seen in the trailers and commercials.
The Avengers; Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow have assembled again. Not a moment too soon either as they, and the entire planet encounter their greatest threat yet, Ultron, an artificial intelligence robot bent on the world’s destruction. Along the way, some new Avengers join the team.
Let’s get the worst aspect about “Avengers: Age of Ultron” out of the way first. Whether the other critics love or hate this movie, there will be no arguing this point. The biggest negative about Disney purchasing Marvel Studios is their insistence all the superhero movies get converted from 2D to 3D in post-production. Making this matter worse is that almost all of them are poorly done. This movie is not only no exception to that, wearing those darn glasses makes this movie too dark. If you do see the movie in 3D, take off the glasses at some point and see how much better you can see. A good bulk of the money the picture makes will come from the 3D showings. It’s not that people are clamoring to see the movie in that format, but many of the 2D shows will be sold out and some audience members won’t have a choice. Given how large scale some of the battles are, it would have been worth to see it on an IMAX screen; however, any large format screenings there are out there is likely to be in 3D too.
Joss Whedon returns as writer and director of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” When he did the first one it really was a perfect accumulation of all the previous movies beforehand. Expectations were through the roof on this one, but if anyone could have pulled it off, it would have been him. Unfortunately, he does fall short this time out.
The movie opens with one of Whedon’s long takes. He’s been doing long take shots going all the way back to season 3 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” It was a good one to start off “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and get audiences caught up into the movie right away. Still, the opening sequence, while action packed and humorous, doesn’t have the fluidity all the fight scenes the first movie had. Once that scene is over, it takes a while before the story finds its legs again. This is a movie of two halves where the first half falls way short of expectations, while the second half finally meets them.
You may not believe what kicks off the second half that helped make it so good. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” really sets out and succeeds to humanize the Avengers. We get to know everyone so much more intimately now and the audience gets to connect to the team in a way they haven’t before. It’s a positive change and a delightful unexpected one at that.
Another reason why the Marvel Universe has been so successful is they have always hired great actors to fill their roles. All the returning cast members do their jobs superbly again. The new cast members are great too, but James Spader, who provides the voice of Ultron, really helps make him one of the most memorable villains to date. Ultron is not your average robot. He’s got issues. He can go from being calm and cracking a joke, to getting very angry and upset to the point where he is flying off the handle. Spader’s inflections and tone of voice fits Ultron perfectly and its impossible to imagine any other actor filling in that role.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen who are Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch respectively, are some of the new members of the team. Both of them sport accent and pull them off well. Olson is a real delight to watch in her scenes. Some of you may remember seeing Quicksilver last year in “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” You will then note that the part was played by a different actor in that movie, Evan Peters. If you are a little confused by this it is because both characters appears in the X-Men comic books and Avengers, so both companies have the rights to the character. One difference is that in “Avengers: Age of Ultron, they cannot be called mutants.
Evan Peters had one of the more memorable scenes in “X-Men: Days of Future Past” when he helped the others escape from the Pentagon, so we should run a quick comparison between the two. If you had to pick who was the better one, most fans would probably pick Peters, but Johnson had the more substantial role. The two characters are completely different and have different motivations. The X-Men Quicksilver is just a kid looking for a good time, while the Avengers’ Quicksilver has a past he would like to avenge. The X-Men movie really showcases how amazingly fast he is and in the Avengers they show he is fast, but it’s more shown by seeing the character have a vapor trail of himself whenever he runs.
Alan Silvestri did the music for the first movie and helped to make that the blockbuster that is was. For “Avengers: Age of Ultron” Danny Elfman is given the full credit for doing the score, but Brian Tyler is also listed according to IMDb. Regardless, the score to this movie is not as strong. Tyler and Elfman have both scored superhero movies in the past, although this is the first one in the current Marvel Universe Elfman has done. One of the reasons why the opening sequence is not engaging as it should be is the music doesn’t quite fit it. There’s no way of knowing this, but if Silvestri returned, that scene and more of this movie probably would have been much better. Part of this let down is that the music in the trailers for this movie was so good and got you really excited for the movie. An extra note, many of the shots you saw or heard in the trailers, do not appear in the movie. Don’t you hate that?
There’s no stopping the large amounts of money this movie is going to make. Perhaps it was a positive that the movie was not as good as the first. That way, when the next Avenger movie comes out a few years from now, fans won’t have unrealistic expectations. Overall, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a encouraging start to the 2015 summer movie season. Labor Day is September 7th this year, so this is the longest period of summer movies we are going to get, so gear up! It’s going to be a hell of a ride. EXCELSIOR!