Monday, May 4, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers have assembled again.  This time, they are up against an opponent created in their very own headquarters.  Ultron comes at them from all directions, including with the help of two new characters he recruits.

Joss Wheldon and the writers did a good job in this movie of giving all of the Avengers a fair amount of screen time.  There is even some back story given to the two Avengers that are often overlooked.  No spoilers here, just know that you will learn a bit more about why Hawkeye (aka Clint) and Black Widow (aka Natasha) are who they are.

The film also picks up where we left of at the end of the 3 installments that have come since "Avengers".  Most specifically, the fact that they are their own team now after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  Also, Tony continues to deal with more of his personal demons that he mentions in "Iron Man 3".  As you have probably seen in the trailers, it was Tony who created Ultron in his original form.  Still dealing with the effects the events of "Avengers" had on him, he struggles with his need to be able to protect those he cares about.  Robert Downey Jr. does a really convincing portrayal of this confident yet terrified hero, proving yet again that he is Iron Man.

After the first Avengers movie, a lot of people raised questions in regards to Bruce Banner's ability to control his transformation into the Hulk.  This movie addresses those questions head on.  Mark Ruffalo continues in this role he took over in "Avengers" and does a terrific job of showing the layers of Bruce and his struggle to deal with the Hulk inside of him.  He also has to figure out what is right and wrong when working with a teammate on something the others may not agree with.

Chris Evans returns as the "Boss" as Tony calls him.  Captain America also has to come to terms with certain aspects of his past, including the time that lapsed before S.H.I.E.L.D. discovered him in the ice.  He also must deal with his role as team leader as secrets from within the Avengers themselves come to light.  This movie certainly lays some ground work for "Captain America: Civil War".  Evans once again does a wonderful job of showing us how a character with a pretty solid moral compass, must still deal with some tough choices.

The demigod also returns to Earth to help the team.  Thor is back as part of the mission the Avengers are on to kick off the movie, cleaning up after a problem he still feels responsible for, at least in part.  As you know, out of any of the Avengers, Thor is the most closely connected to the events of the first "Avengers" with the attack by Loki and the tesseract.  As a matter of fact, aside from the files the others may have read about Thor's first trip to Earth, he is the only one with any real prior knowledge of life beyond our planet.  Chris Hemsworth does a great job showing us the complexity of this unique backstory.

Black Widow and Hawkeye have never had their own movies to give us a history of these characters, yet they still play a pivotal role in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron".  We even get a peek into their mysterious pasts and even a little bit of what happens between Avengers missions now that the S.H.I.E.L.D. they know is not what it was.  Scarlett Johansson is back as the secretive Black Widow.  She too fights her personal demons in this movie, even more so than the others because it is a battle she has been fighting since not long after we were introduced to the MCU edition of her character.  In the time since we last saw her on screen, she has developed a close connection with a fellow Avenger.  This connection proves to be very important as the story progresses.

Jeremy Renner is here as Hawkeye, the Avenger with probably the least sreentime of them all.  He is actually the only one of the main team to have not appeared in the MCU since "Avengers".  That does't stop him from being a major piece of the puzzle in this story.  He also supplies some of the funniest lines in the movie.  He has certainly proved his worth as an Avenger, so let's hope we don't have to wait until "Avengers 3" to see more from him.

As shown in the trailers, Nick Fury even shows up to help the team along the way.  It may be his shortest appearance since he turned up at the end of "Iron Man" but Samual L. Jackson shows that he really was the perfect choice for the role.  With just the right combination of sarcasm, and military style leadership, he says what they all need to hear, when they need to hear it.  Cobie Smulders also returns are Maria Hill.  Now part of Tony's company and the Avengers, there may still be some secrets with this former agent.

Another character that comes out of the background this time is Jarvis.  While he has been very present along side Tony Stark throughout the series, he still remained the voice of a computer, until now.  Jarvis is an active member of the team.  I won't say much of how though.  You have go see it to find out.  I will say that Paul Bettany does a terrific job bringing a computer to life.  He even gets to voice a physical character this time as well in Vision.  The way in which Vision arrives in the movie even has an interesting effect on the team members.

No comic book movie would be complete without a villian.  "Avengers: Age of Ultron" actually has few of them, and no I don't just mean all the Ultron robots you see in the trailer.  Two of the other villains in the story, Strucker and List, play into Marvel's biggest hook tagline, "IT'S ALL CONNECTED".  Fans of the show "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." will be familiar with these characters and will even know how List came to be where his was at the start of the movie.  Leading the cast of evil is, of course, Ultron.  James Spader brings this character to the screen with a very unique personality.  He is clearly evil and wants to destroy everyone, but he is also lost with a form of artificial intelligence that makes him wonder why he is what he is.  His longing for a real connection with someone, makes you feel for him on some level.  I know Loki also became the villain he was partially because of wanting to belong, but there is something different about how it drives Ultron to do what he does.

Also causing some trouble for the Avengers are the twins, Quicksilver and the Scarlett Witch (Pietro & Wanda Maximoff).  We first saw a glimpse of them in one of Marvel's now famous post credits scenes, this time following "Captain America: The Winter Soldier".  We quickly learn that they have a personal score to settle because of something that happened when they were young, with a clear connection to one of the Avengers.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen bring these characters to us in a very compelling way.  The characters develop in ways that may surprise you.  After a different version of Quicksilver was introduced in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" there was some doubt over how well a second attempt at him would work.  I am a fan of the X-Men version, but this one is presented as a different enough character that I feel it will stand strong in any comparisons.  His appearance in the MCU gives more depth to the character than I saw in the other version.  The Scarlett Witch plays a major part in Ultron's early attack on the Avengers, creating much of the conflict that would carry through the film.

As with all the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the visual effects in "Avengers: Age Of Ultron" are in a league of their own.  Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk all have powers that take a tremendous amount of work in their own movies.  This creative team manages to bring them all to life on the same screen.  Combine that with the magnitude of the scenery and other effects, and this movie should be getting a lot of recognition for their art and visual effects departments.

Marvel continues to raise the bar with this latest installment, and appear to be in step to do so again with the coming movies in the MCU.  As our founder, Jeremy(J-Wing) always said in his reviews, remember this is a Marvel movie, so stay for the credits.  If you don't, everyone who does will be a step ahead of you on where the story is going.  I definitely think he would call this movie "Amazing".

Do you agree with this review?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section.  Just remember our rules, NO OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE & NO SPOILERS.

See you all at the movies!


Thank you to ESSEX CINEMAS and T-REX for being the theater of choice for our movie reviews. When you are looking for the best place to check out a movie, make it ESSEX CINEMAS and T-REX at the Essex Outlets Center in Essex, VT! 

The T-Rex Theater is AMAZING!!! With the 60 foot curved screen and 124 speakers which is part of 7.1 Digital Surround Sound, there are 401 extra wide luxury seats with memory-foam headrests making a movie theater trip you will never forget! T-Rex stands for “Theater Real Extreme” 

Also check out movies in Plattsburgh, New York at Cumberland 12!

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