Let me start by saying that if you have not been hooked to this series of Marvel creations (films, comics et al) then Avengers: Age of Ultron will seem rather uninviting and exclusive. Having said that, I suggest you start now: better late than never. Besides you can always binge watch and catch up on all that’s transpired previously.
Avengers: Age of Ultron picks its audience up almost in the middle of an action sequence where Tony Stark (Iron Man), Steve Rogers (Captain America), Bruce Banner (Hulk), Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), Clint Barton (Hawkeye) and Thor create unbelievable cinematic marvel with a breathtaking action sequence while raiding a Hydra outpost where Baron Strucker has been experimenting with humans. It is here that Stark retrieves the scepter previously wielded by Loki and sets in motion his plan to complete the “Ultron” global defence programme. However, Ultron as an evolved Artificial Intelligence has his own thoughts and motives and wishes to eradicate the human race. What’s left to be seen is how the Avengers plan to stop Ultron.
Director Joss Whedon doesn’t shy away from coming out in the open from the very beginning and claiming Avengers for what it is: Superhuman gimmick. A hall full of audience gasp and grimace together as our brave heroes take depth of field to new heights with great use of the frame. Here is a film you must MUST watch wearing a 3D glass.
Yet, the film falls in monotonous pitfalls of much exploited Hollywood themes and conversations. While the man versus machine paradox is something many films have explored to death, it’s a pity that most filmmakers can’t break away from what Stanley Kubrick created with his menacing and uncannily human HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Avengers, too, recreates Ultron (voiced by James Spader) on the same lines. As Ultron listens intently and responds with understanding and empathy to the twins of Strucker’s experiments – Pietro and Wanda (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen respectively) – his red eyes taking on a softer shade, it feels like a déjà vu.
And if a machine with its own subconscious is not enough, then dig this: It now has the body of a Greek god. Although, this obsession with the perfect male form is not just limited to the machines. This Marvel Studio production is obsessed with biceps, deltoids, teres major and all those other muscles which the gym boys fondly refer to as “dole shole”. As the dejected Avengers seek refuge in Barton’s secret domestic paradise after having been injected with haunting memories and hallucinations by the superpowers of Wanda Maximoff; in a blunt display of machoism, Iron Man and Captain America are shown chopping firewood to contribute to the household. While Chris Evans is made to flaunt his body in a tight blue shirt giving particular prominence to his nipples, Robert Downy Jr. voices the age old male insecurity when he points out at the difference between the size of each man’s wood pile.
While the action sequences keep getting more engaging as the film’s runtime increases, it’s disappointing to find too much information cramped into too little space. It’s almost as if Joss Whedon, finding himself with too many characters with too much backstory, decided to hint at important details in the passing due to lack of time. This is particularly striking in the build-up of a potential romance between Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johanson). Their relationship is stuck with bits and pieces of disjointed and rushed conversations here and there without the presence of anything that can be referred to as ‘chemistry’. While Hulk is apprehensive of a romance, Black Window tries to convince him by telling him that she too is a ‘monster’ as she cannot procreate. “One less thing to worry about” she says as tears roll down her eyes.
While Avengers: Age of Ultron can’t really be appreciated as film with nuanced understanding of its characters and the human psyche in general, it must be duly noted that the film had me and everyone else hooked throughout the runtime. This is not a film you give-up on because of the awkward conversations and cheesy dialogues. This is the kind of film you watch precisely because of those things. In a gist, this is a predictable superhero action film with nothing earth-shatteringly new happening. Yet it’s definitely worth a trip to the film theatre. Don’t miss this if you care about superheroes, action or Scarlett Johanson.