By David Newman (Boulder, Colorado)
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There have been 10 movies so far in Marvel’s big superhero world. Though formulaic, the majority of them have been pretty good. But when does it hit a point where it’s just too much. Too many characters to fit in, too much action, and too much of the same plots and set-up that Marvel feels is required to maintain that constant supply of huge blockbuster hits.

This was not a bad movie in any sense of the word, and looking at it’s over a billion dollar worldwide box office gross, it qualifies as another major success and does not in any sense seem like bad news for Marvel. After watching the movie however, I could see how it exhibits signs of trouble in the future for Marvel. What made the first movie Avengers movie so good, was its ability to cram the movie full of everything people want and everything that the movie needed to make it good and not make it feel full or overcrowded. Everyone got their full share. It had great wit and dialogue, well made action sequences, full story lines for the characters, everything the superhero nerds wanted, and it managed to somehow tie it all up and make a good movie.

Unlike many other action movies, Marvel or not, the action there felt warranted and was something you could actually sit through and enjoy. This was because enough of the rest of the movie was more just focused on the characters, that it didn’t feel like they were just going from one fight to another. All the characters were allowed to have their fair share, so the action wasn’t taking away from anything. Unfortunately, this is what Age of Ultron really struggled with. The elongated action sequences robbed scenes from an all-star cast and Marvels corporate mandating ultimately stopped director Joss Whedon from creating what should have been another very good movie.

The movie starts out per the norm with another big battle scene. Our heroes are, (easily) taking down the last big Hydra headquarters to get back Loki’s evil scepter. After easily taking it, they return to their pimped out suite back in New York. There the always entertaining Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) enlists the help of the only successful movie Bruce Banner ever (Mark Ruffalo) to help him use the scepter to create AI. (Never a good idea in movies) The AI will control the Iron Man suits, which should hopefully provide for an early retirement for the Avengers. This is not ultimately the case, as the AI which Starks calls Ultron (voiced by James Spader) takes Stark’s idea of world peace and obviously takes it to mean the distraction of humanity. Thus he attacks the Avengers and flees to carry out his evil plot.

The scenes that took place in the Avengers building were the best of the movie, as they provided genuinely funny dialogue between the different hero’s and an interesting romance between Bruce Banner and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). These scenes that delved deeper into the characters and their relationships and provided comic relief were the scenes that made the first Avengers so good, and what this movie sorely missed. From then on, it’s about the Avengers stopping Ultron and his two new companions Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) with Flash like powers and his telekinetic sister the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) from destroying the earth. This includes over prolonged sequences of them fighting and destroying billions upon billions of dollars worth of buildings of major cities, as well as killing hundreds of thousands of people, including one where they Hulk takes out seemingly half of one African country.

It wasn’t like this was all bad, it had its moments, but the studios and movie makers feel obliged to cram these movies full of these long action scenes instead of what they consider to boring dialogue and storytelling, but the truth is the action can at times be almost sleep worthy and I just stop giving a shit about it. The movie gets so crammed full of new characters that it’s very hard to keep track of them all, and even a two and a half hour run time doesn’t give enough time to fit everyone in nicely. In comic books, you can get away with bigger worlds as you can keep making more sequels and not everyone has to be crammed into one comic book, but in a movie you don’t get to do that.

The Marvel formula continues to bring in big bucks at the box office, and so the giant action spectacles will continue well into the foreseeable future, but as I watched the big CGI explosions, I couldn’t help but nod slightly off waiting for the enjoyable spurts of calm throughout and unless they can go back to those moments that made the first Avengers so good, I may find myself falling into a deeper and deeper sleep through the boring, repetitious, and never-ending action. Not a lot was riding on Age of Ultron, but yet with the 11 upcoming Marvel movies I find myself nervous for the future.

Rating: C+

(Side Note): Though inevitable, I really hope they don’t tie in the Guardians of the Galaxy characters. The best marvel movie yet deserves the right to stand on its own, in its own nice creative bubble.

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