I saw Age of Ultron the other week and so now I can continue with my reviews of movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This one will cover plot, characters and polish and then assign a grade.
This movie has a different pace and momentum than the previous. Starting out with a battle against HYDRA, it lulls for for a funny party at Avenger's Tower where Ultron is created, shows up and rebels. Then there is a series of confrontations followed by a climax. I like this approach because it makes it different from the previous film. There is certainly no sense of formulaic or paint by number stuff going on here. Only the most basic sense of storytelling tools like Rising Action and Climax followed by Falling Action and Resolution.
Also, the Evil Plan is certainly more complex. Loki's goal in The Avengers was basically to open a path for an alien invasion. Here we have a Well Intentioned Extremist upgrading himself while working on a Social Darwinist thing to "bring peace in our time" as his creator instructed. If Ultron's motives or reasons or goals seem to shift frequently, that's not bad writing. That is good writing because it showcases Ultron's personality in this verse. For one, he's crazy, for two, he's manipulating the twins by withholding his true goal and three, he simply changes his mind the Avengers steal his Vision.
Battle scenes are amazing, as has become standard with the MCU. My favorite is two part. One of them is the Hulk vs the Hulkbuster armor. The other involves a Hold The Line involving the Avengers and a couple new allies.
I don't see the problem with the Natasha/Bruce romantic angle. Given what she says, it makes sense (though a nod to Betty would have been nice). I don't see the "sterilization" thing as misogynistic at all. Isn't the fact that she it happened at all mean that the Red Room considers her value far and away outside her ability to produce children?
Ending is great. There is resolution to the conflict and then a springboard to the solo films of Phase 3. It's a shifting of narrative weight that provides both closure and excitement for the next installment.
Ultron is a fantastic villain. He looks menacing with his robotic stuff and he certainly puts up an impressive fight in physical combat while carrying out a multi-pronged Evil Plan. He has the snark comedy (very well delivered by James Spader) and making this even better is that he gets it from his "father" Tony Stark, and he hates being compared to him. On one hand he's this sinister philosopher villain and then he goes and does something goofy or childish like the "smaller people" line. A combination of insanity, immaturity mixed with great knowledge, and a dash of obfuscation and manipulation, and the true extent of his Evil Plan remains flexible and mysterious.
The Avengers continue to perform well. They are a better oiled team than in the first movie, as natural because they've been working together against HYDRA for some time now, but there is still tension. Iron Man's "peace in our time" philosophy clashes with Captain America's "don't try to win wars that haven't started" philosophy. With knowledge that Captain America 3: Civil War is coming, you know that this is where it starts.
Hawkeye gets great development here. Not only is he a badass archer and secret agent, but he's also The Heart of the team and a family man to boot.
This movie looks amazing, both in battle scenes and in quiet scenes.
Trickster Eric Novels gives Avengers: Age of Ultron, an A+
Review for Avengers 1 can be found here