Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
One of the hardest aspects of reviewing movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron is balancing critique of the less-than-stellar aspects of the film versus knowing that, throughout the entire time, you were completely and totally enamored with what was happening on screen. During the entirety of the film, there were few points that made me stop and question if that was the right kind of character development or the best possible acting. The rest of the 141 minute superhero blockbuster is nothing short of thrilling, engaging, and just downright fun.
From start to finish, you’ll see just how much Joss Whedon and the entire production team steps up to the plate to go even farther with the action sequences. With an explosive beginning, you’ll be hooked from the very start. Thematically, the story progresses in an organic and character-driven manner, with newcomers Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) taking center stage. They’re very much the heart of the film and seeing their growth from when they’re introduced as villains to seeing how they grow into becoming full-fledged Avengers is exactly the kind of humanity Whedon needed to insert into the film to keep us grounded. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) similarly stood out, because—as promised—his character gets a much stronger narrative in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The three of them quickly become the most human and relatable characters of the film and, by the end, you should feel incredibly emotional over their journey.
A major subplot throughout the film was the budding romance between Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Unfortunately, this was one of the weakest plotlines of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Several scenes dedicated to them felt incredibly forced, the acting between Johansson and Ruffalo feeling stale and without chemistry. Ultimately, their relationship felt extraneous and superfluous, breaking the momentum of the film and diverting attention away from the main storyline. We should be grateful, though, because it’s through their romance that Black Widow addresses her past and we see more about what makes her tick. There are, of course, problems with how Whedon presents Black Widow’s internal struggle—he equates the ability to reproduce with her humanity and, in losing one, Black Widow feels like she loses the other. It could have been done better, but, at this point, any emphasis on the limited female representation in these films is appreciated and welcomed.
Expect a major plot twist in the film concerning the Infinity Stones from Avengers: Age of Ultron. This Avengers movie did more setting up than the previous; unfortunately, this was a necessity due to how complex the next phase of Marvel films proves to be. Loki’s scepter plays a major role in unexpected ways throughout the film and the repercussions of what happens in this movie will be felt in the movies to come; Whedon also does a good job at tying in more elements of the Marvel Universe, like Wakanda, seamlessly into the story.
Because of how much has to be covered in this movie—after all, there are so many plot threads to keep track of—the movie moves quickly and scenes that could have been three to five minutes longer to allow more breathing room were forced to be shortened. That being said, all the extra characters like War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) enhance the experience of seeing the film, because they serve to remind us how concrete of a world Marvel has built in their cinematic universe.
Overall, the movie is incredibly fun. You’ll be at the edge of your seat throughout all the action and you’re going to deeply care about Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and all the characters that you come in contact with throughout the movie. Marvel has another major success on their hand and—even though you might question several aspects of the movie once it’s done—that won’t change the fact that it’s thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.
Overall Grade: B+
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