GOOD GUYS, BAD guys, frenetic action pieces, half a city trashed, a few wise cracks here and there, an A list cast (mostly), reasonably good CGI and a deafening sound track
If this description matches any one of the last two dozen or so super-hero movies that you’ve seen, then take it from me, you’ve been there and really no need to do more of that.
Marvel’s true super-hero is of course director/writer Josh Whedon (“Avengers Assemble”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”). “…Ultron” opened to a $200M box office take…and it hasn’t even opened in the US as yet. It’s essentially a reprise of his first Avengers outing, “Avengers Assemble” (which took in $623M in 2012) but bigger, louder, trashing more cities in more places and with even more super-heroes (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as the Maximoff twins who look like escapees from X-Men).
It’s also far less engaging, you could say, dumber, despite some (maybe unintentional) existential forays, such as the housing needs of poor Captain America – Chris Evans – who complains that he can’t afford the kind of house owned by Hawkeye – Jeremy Renner. Briefly the mind drifted amidst the banging and explosions into the real world of these who save the world so well: just how much do they get paid by SHIELD? Does Natsaha Romanof, the Black Widow, aka Scarlett Johansson, wear jeans or frilly dresses when she’s not in body-clinging leather? What about the HULK? What happens to his clothes when he grows to five times the size? Do any of them get laid?
But I digress. These large, loud, end of days movies seem to fall into one of two types: Dumb Monsters or Fallen Angels.
‘Dumb Monsters’ (into which category “…Ultron” falls) inevitably suffer a fatal flaw: The antagonists remain so far outside any relatable dimension that they generate no emotional reaction from us. There’s no degenerate humanity to disgust and fascinate us. They simply remain loud pieces of destructive machinery, like monster trucks gone awry. There’s never any tension. Just noise. Think Godzilla, or Transformers or even “War of the Worlds”.
The Fallen Angels – mortal beings turned world destroyers – such as Heath Ledger’s Joker or Jamie Fox’ Electro, or Ian McKellen’s Magneto or the master of the lot, Darth Vader offer us a vision of darkness and evil, of good gone wrong, that can be compelling and watchably engaging. But all “…Ultron” has to offer is a computer algorithm gone beserk and turned into matter, by way of a Transformer-like super large, trash-everything Robot. And after we’ve seen ten minutes of buildings being smashed, you wonder, like Thor, “is this all you’ve got?” James Spader is the voice of Ultron, equipped perhaps via some mixed up party-line code, with the same patrician hauteur that he brings to “Blacklist”. Indeed, I kept seeing this large clanking steel monster and hearing Raymond Reddington.
And I kept thinking that a better title for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” would be “Avengers: Ages Before it Ends”
Avengers: Age of Ultron. Written a directed: Josh Whedon. With Robert Downey Jr. Chris Evans. Mark Ruffalo. Chris Hemsworth. Scarlett Johansson. Jeremy Rener. James Spader. Samuel L Jackson Composer: danny Elfman. Production designer: Charless Wood (Also “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Thor: The Dark World”)