I'm a freelance opinion haver, currently residing in Brisbane's West End. I'm having opinions mostly on stuff shown in cinemas and that are put in front of me on a plate. I don't have a blog because I'm much too lazy to keep it up. Same for Twitter.
It's been a few years since our most super of superheroes, Earth's mightiest if you will, have graced the silver screen. Things have changed: relationships have formed, others are strengthening, and some are considering breaking away.
Joss Whedon's second go-round as director of Disney's largest current cash cow is decidedly darker than the first Avengers film.
Sure there's gags, quite a few in fact, and that Whedon-esque snappy dialogue that's made him Marvel's go to guy for script polishing, but the tone is definitely more serious this time around.
And, as always, because it's a Whedon film, SPOILER ALERT, one of the characters you have grown to care about will die.
Perhaps all this gravity is because we're getting toward the end-game of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Things have got to get more serious as there's an existential crisis the size of the galaxy coming in 2018 and 2019 with the Infinity War parts 1 & 2.
Age of Ultron is the end of Phase 2 in the MCU; phase three begins with Ant Man in August.
The acting is fine as always. One of Marvel's great strengths is to get the right actors into the right roles.
Robert Downey Junior inhabits Tony Stark as if he was a second skin.
Scarlett Johansson plays Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff with great a certain damaged gravitas as she comes to terms with her place in the world as the Avengers' professional killer and all the psychic baggage that entails.
Mark Ruffalo as Hulk is another who wants to escape the past and the monster that lurks inside. However, like unlike Black Widow, his monster lurking inside is very literal. This lends them a certain bond that feels very natural and is a great progression for both characters.
James Spader as the voice of Ultron, the sentient Artificial Intelligence designed by Tony Stark as the final solution to protect humanity, oozes malevolence with every line. Obviously Tony Stark never read Mary Shelley because whenever man tries to take on the role of God, it never seems to end well.
Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers plays his role with appropriate earnestness delivering one of the films best running gags in the first scene.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor once again goes for Shakespearean gravitas. His pomposity and Viking character are a relieving foil for the solemn danger of Age of Ultron.
Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye has his story fleshed out much more in Age of Ultron, whereas last time he was a puppet for an avaricious Norse god, this time he fights for something much more important to him. You can see he's pulled into a fight he desperately wants to avoid but knows that for a person like himself or Black Widow fighting, even killing, is what they were built to do.
Newcomers to the MCU Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are great choices as Pietro and Wanda Maximoff even if their accents are a bit spotty. But then again, how does one tell what an accent from a fictional country sounds like? Both have fun in their roles and for most of the film it's hard to tell whetherthey are good, bad, or misguided.
The battles are huge and CGI dense which is to be expected in a Marvel film. Some of it is actually quite beautiful.
The composition of two slow-motion shots during fight scenes at the beginning and end of the film provide neat book-ends and show the heroes coming full circle and truly reuniting as a team.
The film also progresses the story of the Infinity Stones which has been hinted at in various other MCU films.
The 3D conversion is very well done with only a few very minor artefacts to pull the viewer out of the film. However, in my opinion it's not really necessary to see it in 3D if you don't want. The 3D didn't add anything to the film.
Another gripe is with the obligatory Nick Fury appearance. For a person who runs a secret organisation that was shut down in the events of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, who is in fact being hunted by the world's security agencies, he has a hell of a lot of resources at his disposal.
Including one, SPOILER ALERT, deus ex machina near the end of the film.
This is a very good Marvel Film in a roster of many very good Marvel films. It deserves to, and will, make the company hundreds of millions of dollars in ticket sales alone.
But is it the best Marvel film? I don't think so. Personally, I had more fun during Avengers 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy.
When I stood up at the end of the credits after the first Avengers film, my first words were, "that was really f***ing cool."
I didn't say that this time around.
I certainly didn't hate it. In fact, I liked it a lot. But I'm not in love with it like I am Guardians or Avengers 1.
Should you go see it? Yes you should. Especially if you've been keeping track of the MCU.