Posts Tagged ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

As I did with Phase 1, I’ll be ranking Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Below that I’ll list all the MCU films from least to most favorite.

Iron Man 3

The only film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that I generally didn’t like. It starts out with a deadly serious tone, superheroes dealing with real world issues/international terrorism. This part was great, but then half way through the tone switches to outright goofiness. Plus Tony’s house get’s blown up but he’s still able to make an army of suits? Ok

Ant Man

Perhaps Marvel’s greatest risk. In my opinion Ant Man was even more of a risk than Guardians of the Galaxy. The basic concept is pretty off the wall, yet they still managed to pull it off by doing what they do best, having great character relationships and mixing in some humor. Still, it doesn’t quite feel like the heist film it was billed to be. Oddly enough, Ant Man is the one film I’m more interested in seeing a prequel for than a sequel.

Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel’s take on Star Wars took the world by storm last year by giving us a talking raccoon and made “I am Groot” part of the global vernacular. This movie opens up the MCU like no other film before it, giving us a glimpse of the wide range of alien races that exist out in MCU space. Still, there’s always that thing in the back of my mind of why/how do all these aliens speak English, and why do so many of them just look like humans?

Avengers: Age of Ultron

This Avengers film hits the ground running with action right away. Hugely ambitious, globe spanning, it introduces new characters while still taking the time to explore those we already know. The highlight of the film is not the action, but the break during the second act, where we see tension and secrets among the team members. Black Widow’s dark revelation about her past is truly heart breaking, and perhaps the MCU’s most haunting moment.

Ultron is one of the best MCU villains we’ve seen so far, with his child like curiosity of the world around him. His not knowing his own strength and his puzzlement over finances are laugh out loud moments, but Ultron still manages to convey a chillingly creepy presence.

Still, this movie takes on a lot. It mostly manages to keep all its plates spinning, but, like the last Avenger’s film, Thor’s role in figuring out what was going on seemed to come out of nowhere, and in this case was just about literally dues ex machina.

Thor: The Dark World

Perhaps unprecedentedly merging Star Trek with Lord of the Rings, Thor blends fantasy and science fiction while still maintaining tropes of a sequel. An ancient enemy returns in an adventure that gives us more of a glimpse of the 9 realms of Asgardian mythology while further exploring the relationship between Thor and Loki. The Dark World has real consequences as actual characters die (Looking at you Iron Man 3). Also noteworthy is that Thor legitimately couldn’t defeat the villain without the help of his human friends. If Thor 3 is anywhere close to being this good, than this might be the best trilogy of the MCU.

Captain America: Winter Soldier:

The best film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Winter Soldier exemplifies the strength of the MCU. It is, first and foremost, a political thriller. Timely and topical with its theme of privacy vs safety, Winter Soldier gives us the best action scenes of the series, expands the political side of the MCU, brings back characters from the last film in ingenious ways, and gives us a bombshell that shakes the entire MCU. Winter Soldier is also noteworthy for having an impact on the up to then rather boring first season of Agents of Shield.

Rankings of the MCU as a whole.

12. Iron Man 3
11. Ant-Man
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
9. Iron Man 2
8. Hulk
7. Avengers
6. Captain America
5. Thor
4. Avengers Age of Ultron
3. Thor the Dark World
2. Iron Man
1. Captain America: Winter Soldier

Having praised Winter Soldier, I still have to say that the best single unit of storytelling from the MCU is still Netflix’s Daredevil.

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Avengers; Age of Ultron opens immediately with an action scene in a fictional European country. Apparently for some time the Avengers have been taking out Hydra bases around the world, and this is what we open with. The action is fast and CGI heavy, often resembling a video game.

Their mission is to find the scepter Loki had in the last Avengers movie. They’ve now found the base where the scepter is located, and Hydra has used it to experiment on people. The results are the twins, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff. Wanda has telekinetic and other mental powers (making much more sense than her comic book counterpart’s ability of reality manipulation) and Pietro has super speed. They are never called Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in the movie, though Iron Man refers to Wanda as a witch at one point. Her powers lead to some of the deepest parts of the film, as several of their heroes are forced to mentally confront their past and their fears.

Once the scepter is found, it plays a role in a project Tony Stark/Iron Man has been working on for some time. Dreaming of a world at peace, where the Avengers don’t have to fight anymore, he’s been working on and Artificial Intelligence called Ultron. We never learn what Ultron means or where the word comes from, going into the movie I assumed it would be an acronym, but it’s not. His plan for it was a global defense network that would protect Earth from alien attacks that he feels are coming for sure.

Anyway naturally Ultron gains sentience and wants to destroy humanity like all AI robots do.(By the way Ultron does pre-date Terminator). The rest of the movie moves from here. We see the moment of Ultron’s birth/awakening, coming to life in a void of darkness, with Tony’s AI program JARVIS leading Ultron into the light. That was a pretty fascinating scene.

Ultron has personality, he’s smart mouthed, witty, and genuinely chilling. A nice departure from the cold logical AI characters of 2001’s HAL or the Terminator. He basically has all the knowledge of the world, but is still curious and confused about human nature. Money/finances are something that is strange to him. He’s apparently very knowledgeable on pop culture as well, as he makes a joke about how the villain in movies always reveals their evil plot.

In the comics Hank Pym of the upcoming Ant Man movie created Ultron. I think it makes much more sense that Tony Stark created him. Plus Hank Pym creates AI, plus a device to talk to ants, plus finds away to shrink and grow the human body. Those are three distinct fields of science. I never liked how comics did science where one person is super smart at everything. Science just doesn’t work like that.

Along the way we get a surprising revelation about Hawkeye, conflict between Iron Man and Captain America, another new AI character the Vision. The Vision makes his own cape for some reason (he has a cape in the comics). The twins have their own dynamics, as a childhood tragedy they share causes them to hate Tony Stark. The most intriguing character work is the budding relationship between Hulk and Black Widow. Banner is still torn and doesn’t want to fight as the Hulk, fearing the destruction he can bring. This leads to hesitancy in pursuing a relationship. There’s a general theme that all the Avengers are monsters in one way or another. The highlight of the movie is a scene between Natasha and Banner where she reveals a very painful secret about herself.

There is a part with Thor where he goes to find out something and it seems to be pulled out of nowhere/dues ex machina. Also it seems both movies have Hawkeye get hurt/taken out in the very beginning.

The action wraps up in a third act that is pretty interesting. It may be a bit too much that Ultron made all these duplicates of himself, but it works for the most part. One thing I liked is that we have more that one character that legitimately dies, so there’s real consequence to all this.

While the first movie took place mostly in the United States, Age of Ultron jumps locations more. There’s a scene on the African coast, as well as an action sequence in Seoul South Korea. Given that I lived in Korea I was excited to see it on film. Though I do wish they would have shown some of Seoul’s landmarks like Namsan tower, one of the palaces, or the Yi Soon Shin statue,

There is no post credit scene, but there is a mid credit scene. Nothing too surprising though.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is an improvement over it’s predecessor. It opens with action from the get go and is deeper than it needs to be. I’m not sure if it’s better than Winter Soldier, but it’s not their best film, it’s at least one of their best.