Taken as it is, the movie delivers as it should and is seemingly nothing more than what it tries to be: an entertaining cinematic treat.
It wastes little time to reestablish everything with a bravura opening sequence that even tries to replicate the ‘single-shot’ sequence from the previous movie as the camera flits through the action set-piece, moving from character to character, throwing in a ‘hero-shot’ of the team leaping into action (seen in trailers) before a running gag is set up, Whedon style. Yes, not overblown at all while showing off how grand this movie is going to be.
The thing is, Whedon knows his material and he gets the lines and the characters, giving them their awesome moments. He manages to ramp up the threat level and presents us a villain that will give our heroes a real threat to face. However, given that Disney/Marvel have revealed their future plans for the upcoming movies in some areas, it can’t be helped feeling that there’s a lot being set up for later.
The politics between the characters and their foibles are brought to harsh light by way of Ultron, and more primarily, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen, rocking the eastern European accent). So, the dynamics of the characters are more on the forefront than Ultron being the villain of the piece. For instance, the ‘animosity’ between Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Steve “Captain America” Rogers (Chris Evans) boils down tot heir opinions on how they should be doing the job of ‘avenging’ and if it should be a long term deal – all with the thought in mind on the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and even the next two Avengers movie.
Even Thor’s little side adventure seems to suggest something towards the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. For the movie or comic fans, it’s all Easter Eggs, designed to fan the flames of geekdom.
It is nitpicking and it doesn’t really take away anything in terms of sheer entertainment where the movie as a whole is concerned. The stars are extremely comfortable with their characters, with Clint “Hawkeye” Barton (Jeremy Renner) given more to do and actually be a character, even showing himself to be the heart of the team. Only Scarlett Johansson seems a touch uncomfortable – almost constipated (but then, she was reportedly pregnant during filming) – throughout the film.
James Spader handles Ultron beautifully, except his wonderfully dulcet tones occasionally have a ring of Reddington (from his TV series, The Blacklist) in his delivery. That’s in addition to his motion captured performance as Ultron, with thanks to Andy Serkis and his Imaginarium, probably also includes the effects work for the Hulk and Vision (Paul Bettany, although it’s occasionally debatable if Bethany was motion captured; such was the level of the effects and make-up work). Take note that there are at least thirteen major effects companies listed in the credits, headed by ILM.
The movie, to its credit, doesn’t follow the same thread as the first movie as Whedon clearly delivers a more ‘internal’ movie, giving due focus to the characters and particularly their motivations. While the slower, dramatic scenes carry weight in terms of personal stakes for the characters themselves, some viewers may find it detracts a little from the action set-pieces even as it lends to raising the stakes. Whedon’s gift for fleshing out and handling such complex relationships among his characters is on full force. He will be missed in the upcoming films.
As pure entertainment (is this movie critic-proof?), the movie delivers and that is more what counts for cinematic features. The dramatic parts may be an issue to some viewers, but just about every character has his or her moment to shine as one would expect. The juggling to the numerous characters is well handled, and despite all the good points, the length of the movie may be an overall detriment. At least the humour keeps it going fairly well.
Yeh – there’s a post titles sting but not additional scene after the lengthy credits.
Stars: a lot of people you should already know – and some you might not expect, so let’s keep it a surprise.
Directed by Joss Whedon
Images from Marvel
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