Three years ago, one of my all-time favourite films was released; Avengers Assemble. Converging all of the current Marvel film franchises into one super movie (like some sort of Hollywood power polygamous relationship) was one of the greatest movie experiences I'd seen in a long time, as well as being a tight and well written film on its own merits. Avengers Assemble then went on to break box office records, and earn more money than most counties make. So of course a sequel was inevitable. It's business. But how does it stack up? Does Age of Ultron match its predecessor?
I'll try and keep this spoiler free as possible by the way, but as with all reviews I'd suggest you'd just go and watch it. It's Marvel. It's got what you'd expect. Go see it.
The film opens to the team storming a Castle... somewhere. The actions in full swing. Thor's swinging Mjolnir (his hammer). Captain America is flinging his shield around. Iron Man is being all science-y and flying around. And Hulk is well... Hulking. So, pretty standard affair.
From here we find out they are still after Loki's staff. Once inside they grab it, and return to Avengers tower. Before returning it to Asgard, Iron Man analyses' it and attempts to make an A.I. out of it (as you do). And thus Ulton is born. Things go tits up, and the team end up battling him.
So, all very Sci-fi and action-y etc. And all very enjoyable. The fights are all very well set up. The banter between the team mates is as strong and brilliant as ever, and it totally scratches that super hero itch.
Actually, the banter between the team mates is easily the best part of this film. There's a bit early on where they are all relaxing around a table, and each of them try to lift Mjolnir. Very funny, and ends up being a running gag throughout the film.
There are also some stand out set pieces. The opening fight is one of them, and so is the fight between Hulk and Iron man. (Not a spoiler, it's in like all of the trailers.) Unfortunately, I'd say the final big clash at the end just feels a little muddled. And I think this is down to Ultron's character.
Let me explain. Ulton is an evil A.I. He's witty, dark, and powerful. But, somehow, he's just not got enough bite to be held up as a great super villain. Loki was evil in a Prince Joffrey kind of way. The Joker was just insane. Bane was driven and a badass. Ulton kinda just... isn't. His motives are a touch confusing at times. Don't get me wrong, he's a great character. Especially the creepy Pinocchio reference. But this level of creepy could have been played up so much more, and turned him into something really scary. But instead he just comes across as a weirdly driven robot who wants to murder people. In cinema, that's kinda been done.
Which leads to the ultimate clash between the team and him. The stakes are high, but the whole fight is just a cluster fuck of knowing that what's going on has huge repercussions, but lacking any real "bite"Â.
There are also two new characters who, for the life of me, I can't remember the names of. Ones got super speed, the others got some cool mind control stuff. They are referred to as "Abnormals"Â and not Mutants. Does FOX own the rights to that term or something? They are both sort of one dimensional characters, and I couldn't really get on board with their plight.
Side characters also make a nice addition. War Machine and Falcon are here, with the former being the butt of the "Not really as cool as Iron Man"Â joke a lot. It works, and got a lot of laughs with the audience I was with.
All of the cast deliver, with no one phoning it in. In fact Hawkeye, Bruce Banner, and Black Widow all feel much more relevant and engaging this time around. That's impressive as I've always considered them the least interesting of the group.
I guess what you can take away from the story is that it's entertaining, and it set up the next few years of Marvel movies without giving anything away. Except Marvel ruined that by announcing what's going to be released for the next 10 years. Nice going marketing department.
Maybe it's just me, but I seem to notice CGI in films. Especially when the films in 3D. In my view, CGI should blend seamlessly, and not stand out. Unfortunately, this doesn't quite happen, and it's especially noticeable when it comes to CGI characters. Both Hulk and Ulton look great by themselves, but as soon as they start interacting with someone, you notice that they don't look right. They don't feel real.
This aside, they do look great. Hulk looks greener and Hulkier than ever. While Ultron has cool moving parts you can see whirling and moving as he speaks. Much like with the Iron Man suits.
Ultrons design however confuses me. The way his mouth moves is very "human"Â. Arguably this is the point, as well as helps to convey the emotion of the character. Yet because the mouth moves, to me you lose some of the creepiness of the character. The Cybermen from Dr Who, or even General Grievous from Star Wars had a slit mouth (thing?) that couldn't move. That's infinitely creepier. However, his cheeks slide in and out, exposing the sort of red flame of a throat. This looks amazing, and totally a cool choice.
The set pieces are expertly done. They all look amazing, and the action is well choreographed and performed. The CGI used during Iron Man's and Hulks fight is awesome, with buildings and cars being smashed all over the place. Awesome.
The music is the standard orchestral affair. No real stand out moments, except the opening theme at the start totally got me pumped for the film. Musically, Guardians of the Galaxy this ain't.
Let's be honest here; you're reading this after seeing them film. And if you've not seen it; you know you are.
The weird thing is that above all I've done is tear it down and say it's not very good. That's just not correct. I loved it.
Its action packed, witty, and has some truly wonderful moment. I have a rule though; if I think about my watch and what time it currently is in the cinema I know there's something wrong here. And unfortunately this happened. It's a little bloated and overly long, with motives that didn't quite make sense and a story with so much going on that you forget how cool some of it was.
But I loved it anyway, and would be more than happy to see it again in the cinema. It's an excellent action film, an excellent super hero film, and in some ways a great comedy; the one lines are excellent.
So, if you've not seen it; go ahead and do. It's worth your money. It's worth your time. Come on, what else are you gunna do on a Friday night?
Seriously, how the fuck do cinemas do it? How are cinemas singularly the best and worst place to watch a film? It's effectively a cave filled with other people and their farts, most of whom can barely go 5 minutes without rustling or coughing.
Ok, maybe I'm just a little bitter. Let me set you the scene of what I experienced.
First, the price; Â£19 to see it in 3D in Leicester Square. Next; due to my borked eye sight, the 3D glasses didn't fit over my glasses and so had to lean my head back an extra amount just to view the thing I'd spent Â£19 on. (Alright, my fault on those accounts).
Then, about midway through the film, my legs started to hurt because we were packed in and no room to stretch at all. No one would call me Lofty (I'm 5'10 thank you very much) but even I struggled. (Not my fault here).
Oh, and then we have the worst offenders; other sodding people. I was sat next to some guy that did nothing but cough loudly throughout. And every fucking time, I got a wonderful whiff of his earlier glass(es) of bourbon. Oh and he committed cinema sin; he got up to use the bathroom half way through. Seems that any form of curtesy seems to have been lost. Eh.
Bonus round over. Score: Angry.