Some Aliens Have Butts
Uh-oh. Something’s going on. What in the world could it be? You’ll have to stick around to find ok I know what you’re reading this for. You wanna know what I thought of Avengers: Age of Ultron, right? N-no? Oh…well you’re going to anyway.
So…in short- disappointing. Not BAD, just disappointing. Age of Ultron suffers from middle-child syndrome. It’s trying to run a good foot race but just sort of stumbles a lot. It crosses the finish line, sure, but only after it started facing the wrong way in a different stadium at three o’clock in the morning. The first Avengers movie tied up phase one remarkably well. It had a villain we had previously encountered, a MacGuffin that was already introduced and expanded on what we knew. Age of Ultron makes you feel like you’ve missed something, and believe me I haven’t. It’s off having its own party and you’re left looking in through a window. Avengers was a like great inside joke, except we were all in on it. Then Age of Ultron takes the stage and tries telling the same joke but decides to call it ‘The Aristodogs’ instead and expects the same reaction.
We start off in ‘Totally-Not-Russia-osky’ in the middle of a firefight, which generates confusion to begin with. Why are we here? “Oh boy finding these super secret Hydra bases sure has been tough, huh guys?” Oh ok. But why are you raiding the Hy- “Verily. Perhaps this one has Loki’s staff in it! Forthwith!” Wait that sounds interesting. I want to see that. Can we see- “Oh hey it’s Loki’s staff! Let’s grab it and vamoose!” I guess not. From that point, things get surprisingly psychological, teasing us with the promise of a deeply intellectual and possibly discomforting movie. But, like a sexy stripper that turns out to be two dwarves in a trenchcoat, its intrigue runs short. Next thing we know, we’re back at Avengers base and what ho- Ultron is made! He’s totally evil and a huge threat guys! How do we know he’s a huge threat? We get told he’s a huge threat through exposition! Oh boy! Why set up actual peril when we can instead listen to people go “Oh man look at all that bad stuff that’s going on! Wow it’s super bad! If anyone saw this they’d be like ‘woah this is totes malotes trouble dawg’!” And that is the major failing of Ultron.
We are told Ultron has a death grip on all the technology of the world, but seriously just trust us bro because it’s legit dangerous and stuff. We don’t even see Ultron cause that much trouble. He pays Gollum a bunch of money and causes a train to derail. Ultron causes as much destruction as if Bernie Madoff and an evil penny had teamed up. But what about our heroes? The complex characters, each a unique cog somehow finding some cohesion and becoming a working machine? Well, they get a wrench thrown into their machinations! Something we’ve never seen before! That’s right people! Mind control! Wait…and there’s even a line from Hawkeye basically saying “Oh man remember when we did this last time?” That’s another major problem in Ultron- it’s a rehash of what we’ve already seen.
The Chitauri/Skrull? Well they’re robots now. Loki? Well it’s James Spader admittedly performing his role quite unnervingly, although that may just be the metal Optimus Prime in Michael Bay’s “Transformers” lips they gave him. The sense that there is some greater evil, some puppet master working the strings of the marionettes? That’s just not there. A scene where we’re worried about a huge flying object falling out of the sky onto innocent civilians? That’s the third act. It’s strange that this is the longest Marvel movie so far and yet feels so darn empty. It’s not a terrible movie, it’s just unlucky it has to follow the first movie. Ultron feels like we’re treading water waiting for the next tide to come in. The first movie is already getting tainted by nostalgia goggles, guys. The only way to counteract that is by making something new we haven’t seen before, not polishing what we were already looking at.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some incredibly good aspects too. The way they display Scarlet Witch’s powers in the beginning is very cool and incredibly unnerving. However that quickly disappears. The visuals are stunning, save for the opening scene in “Seriously-This-Isn’t-Russia-Stop-Asking-hannesburg” where they’re almost laughable. The comedy falls flat occasionally but some jokes hit super hard and incredibly well, such as a risque Stark quip about zucchini. We delve a bit into Tony’s psyche, however we already had an entire movie about that so let’s move on. There are several really cool and kind of subtle Easter Eggs including an Archie comics reference and a nod to a certain Shakespearean-named robot in Avengers canon. Ultron’s Old Testament personality works so well with the terror and intimidation Ultron embodies, even if it’s occasionally punctured by a bizarre casual colloquialism. The Hulkbuster fight is worth the price of admission alone, unless you paid for IMAX 3D tickets and why would you do that seriously it’s like paying twenty bucks to have your vision blurred while getting seasick it doesn’t make sense.
Age of Ultron isn’t bad, though. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just…lackluster. What it does we’ve seen before and better. If Avengers was “Raiders of the Lost Ark” then Ultron is “Temple of Doom”. But that’s okay because hopefully we still have the ‘Last Crusade’ to end it all on. The problem with Ultron is the legacy it has to live up to. Avengers had everyone gathering for the first time, it posed real threat and peril with characters we knew and loved. I would say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but it did this time. In the same spot in the same way where the ground was already singed. Age of Ultron is worth seeing in theaters once or twice because it’s still a Marvel movie and a decent one at that. It’s just marred because the fire it’s making isn’t as big or as bright as it was when the lightning struck the first time. We’ve seen this area burn, I want to see THAT area burn. That place where my student loan records are kept! Burn THAT now!
Maybe I should talk to someone about these arsonist urges. They’re getting a bit out of hand it seems.
Age of Ultron: you could do worse, but you could do a whole lot better too. 3.5/5