Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes



Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Directed by Joss Whedon

It’s like spinning plates for 5-years. Eventually, there’s going to be some crashing and smashing. Of course, Joss Whedon’s Avengers trade in the currency of crashing and smashing, which is partly why we pay the inflated admission fees, but with each sequel, we’ve come to expect greater narrative depth and more satisfying character development.

There are moments in which Whedon equals the fun of his first Avengers team-up, yet disappointingly, there are too many that fall short. He had the element of surprise up his sleeve the first time around, but now we know this world and how these characters interact with each other. Whedon knows that simply rehashing things won’t do, but for much of the numerous action scenes (yet more rampantly chaotic sequences of CGI destruction) it feels rehashed – plenty of noise but little finesse. Fun as the chaos sometimes might be, the over-reliance on CGI restricts involvement. If you’re like me – tired of endless destruction in these movies…don’t be surprised to find yourself intermittently checking the clock.

The script continues to allow the characters to indulge in that Whedonesque sense of self-parody. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye exclaims – “The city is flying, we’re fighting an army of robots and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.” (a decent critique of the film). Beyond that, there’s more serious character development amid the carnage, albeit not entirely convincing. It feels as though Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is a little betrayed here. So much fun in The Avengers and The Winter Soldier, all of a sudden her character appears vulnerable and co-dependent..like a damsel in need of saving, but not quite in distress.

The guys mostly maintain their wining streak. Both Hemsworth and Evans have fun as Thor and Cap, while Mark Rufallo continues to is a warm presence.. Being completely unfamiliar with text of the comics, there’s development of Renner’s Hawkeye that seems to stall things for twenty-or-so minutes, almost as if the film is pausing for breath and doesn’t really have anything to say, so it starts babbling. Downey Jr picks up where he left off, playing Tony Stark with his trademark repartee, as the long-form storytelling of the Marvel Cinematic Universe sees him isolated in his responsibility to making the world a safer place.

This is the plot for Age of Ultron, as Stark’s ambition to protect the human race turns on him. Stark is Dr. Frankenstein, Ultron is his monster. In turn, this sows the seeds of division that will undoubtedly lead into the Civil War storyline of the upcoming Captain America sequel. There’s another problem. There are too many times that this film feels like a telegraphed set-up for another instalment in a franchise. Iron Man 2 was guilty of the same sin, and isn’t highly regarded because of it. Audiences are weary of commercials – do they really want the plot-lines of their summer blockbusters to start behaving like them!?

In the spirit of avoiding spoilers, I can’t write freely about all of the players in the field. That said, the marketing openly promotes the dual presence of the brother-sister double-act of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. In terms of performance, while the two don’t have a shuddering impact, their joint presence is a faintly welcome new dynamic. Sadly for Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver, nothing he does remotely rivals that scene in X:Men: Days of Future Past.

So, while the smashing and crashing of Age of Ultron is fun in part, it’s a shame that so much of it feels perfunctory, especially when it’s well documented how much investment Joss Whedon poured into it . That said, it’s far from being a bad film – just one that fails to live up to the lofty levels of expectation.



About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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16 Responses to Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. It’s too bad when movies have almost impossible expectations, which is the case with a lot of movies lately because they all seem to be sequels or prequels or remakes. Like you said though, this one was fun.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Yes, it seems more a problem with big ‘tentpole’ releases. The less I know going in, the more likely it is that I’ll have a good time. Great to hear from you, Mel 👊🏻😎

      • Me too! I try not to read anything or even watch the trailer to movies I haven’t seen. Have you noticed that trailers almost always lead to really high expectations? I know that’s the point – to get butts in the seats, but they pack the trailer with every big moment and give away too much plot. It annoys me.

        Great to stop by! Your posts are always so well written and thoughtful.

  2. Evan Peters’ Quicksilver in X:Men will forever be #1. That scene was downright legendary!

  3. Overstuffed and undercooked…it tried so, so hard to please! But I came out of the theatre nonplussed about the film…which is not a good sign!

    • garethrhodes says:

      That’s a great point about it trying hard to please. In that sense, I feel bad for Whedon. He clearly burnt himself out trying to make it sing, but alas, it never quite does. I was to enjoy myself a whole lot more than I did. Thank you for responding.

      • It was evident Whedon tried his very best. It’s a shame…but I’d like to see a Director’s Cut sometime in the future

      • garethrhodes says:

        Yes, it could use a nip n’ tuck, here and there. I’m still a huge fan of all things Whedon. Firefly is covers a lot of greatness in its few episodes. Given enough time, it might have rivalled Star Trek as televisions most celebrated space adventure series.

      • I just think he burned himself out. The pressure of trying to better The Avengers overcame him.
        And yes, Firefly deserves another shot! Still haven’t seen Serenity though

  4. Kgothatjo Magolego says:

    Great review, man. I definitely agree that this movie feels like a setup for The Infinity War. The first Avengers was a climax after 5 years of build up; Age of Ultron just feels like another step that needs to be taken to reach the promised land. I also had a problem with Ultron, he had so much potential but it’s all squandered. In the end, he isn’t this movie’s true villain, Scarlet Witch is. She makes Tony build Ultron. She messes with the team. She also in the end does the majority of destruction. Ultron is a bystander and it’s a real shame because James Spader does some truly amazing work.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Hello my friend, great to hear from you. Thank you for such a thoughtful response. I take your point about Scarlet Witch, she was the ‘phantom menace’, so to speak. I need to see the film again, to hone my opinion further, but I suspect that I’ll have more-or-less the same response.

  5. Chris Evans says:

    I think Age of Ultron is just a little ‘saddled’ with all the set-up for future films and the weight of expectations after the success of the first Avengers. AoU falls a little short but I liked the slightly darker more serious tone (plus Spader delivered a great Ultron) and hope that carries through to Captain America: Civil War which if anything like the comic books it’s being based on should give more depth in terms of story.

    Nicely detailed and thoughtful review as always Gareth!

  6. “There are too many times that this film feels like a plot set-up for another installment in a franchise.” I agree with that statement completely. I love these characters and these films, but AoU just didn’t seem to come together as flawlessly as “The Avengers” did. I can’t help feeling that Captain America: Civil War will actually be closer to the kind of film we were hoping for from AoU.

  7. T Martin says:

    I’ll agree the action scenes are the weakest aspects, but not because of their Transformers-y nature, but because they have too many characters to juggle and messy cinematography. I think everything else mostly works as a satisfying sequel to the original, especially how the Avengers are forced to question themselves about whether they’re heroes or monsters.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you for your comment, I agree with what you say. Although the action lacked weight for me, it was not only because of the amount of characters Whedon attempts to juggle, but mainly because it battered my senses into a blunt sense of apathy. I wanted to care more, but I found myself shrugging off tinges of boredom.

      I could cherry-pick many moments that I enjoyed, but found the whole thing lacking as one cohesive whole. Maybe a second viewing with smooth over the rough edges. All things said, I still count myself as a fan of this series.

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