Friday, December 1, 2017

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron; fantasy action, USA, 2015; D: Joss Whedon, S: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, James Spader (voice), Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård

The Avengers, consisting out of Tony Stark / Iron-Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Natasha Romanoff and Hawkeye, attack a Hydra outpost in a Eastern European country of Sokovia. Hydra experimented on two twins, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff. After Hydra's base is overrun, Stark gets Loki's scepter and takes a gem from it in order to create an artificial intelligence, "Ultron", used as a global defense program. However, Ultron takes on a robot body, goes insane and decides to wipe out mankind. Ultron uses his powers to carve up a giant city in Sokovia and fly the land up in order to crash it on Earth like a meteorite, but Stark's other program, J.A.R.V.I.S., in a synthetic body, stops and kills Ultron. The landmass is destroyed in an explosion before impact.

The sequel to the overhyped, but OK superhero hit "Avengers", "Age of Ultron" decided to change a few of the ingredients: while the 1st film seemed without weight or real excitement, since the superheroes just fight off hundreds of villains without a single scratch, almost as a minor "inconvenience", here the stakes have been raised a bit, with the protagonists getting challenged and one character even dies. Moreover, the main villain, Ultron, is actually their own creation gone crazy, which at least gives a few crumbs of a subversive touch in showing that these guys are not always ideal. Still, a few typical flaws and cliches were not avoided, including a too rushed finale (the scenes unravel too fast, without giving time for the characters to express awe and wonder) and a CGI overkill, whereas it seems they crammed too many Marvel superheros: as a consequence, this seems like a play with too many kids and too little lines for them all.

The best parts are when these characters interact, with one comical moment involving Thor saying that nobody can lift up his hammer, so the guys, including Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, all "accept the challenge" and try to lift it, but it won't budge, and thus later even speculate about its laws ("But if you put the hammer in an elevator?" - "It will still go up!"). There is a neat sequence where the Avengers hide in a desolate house, where Hawkeye's wife and kids live peacefully. There are some small sparks of awe as the kids look curiously at the superheroes, with the girl even calling Natasha "aunt". This is contrasted with a dark scene when Natasha later admits that she was sterilized after her training, giving weight to her character who yearns for kids and a potential family. Unfortunately, except for that, she is a one-dimensional extra for the rest of the film, since it takes ten movies to finally give her some character development. There are a few other comical one-liners that give the story some freshness and vitality (Ultron's robot mocks Captain America for helping civilians: "You can't save them all! You'll never...!", but Captain just interrupts him by throwing his shield at the robot and throwing him down the cliff, just to then casually reply: ""You'll never what?" You didn't finish!") but the villain's motivation is terribly confusing (why does he think that destroying mankind in a giant explosion will save the world?) whereas more highlights would have been welcomed in the rather standard story which is just a neverending repackaging of Marvel's other superhero movies.


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