By Edwin Hopkis (Fayetteville, NC)
“There’s only one pathway to peace. Their extinction.”
Thus spake Ultron, presenting us with his ultimate solution to true tranquility upon our planet. He is the metallic menace who brings back all the fun and mayhem for our mightiest heroes once again, in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He may be a machine, but he does have a certain personality and even a slightly warped sense of humor that makes you laugh, despite the fact that he wants to kill every human on earth.
Genius, billionaire, playboy, etc. Tony Stark is (as if you didn’t already know), responsible for this powerful, yet unfortunately maniacal automaton. It begins when a successful raid on a Hydra base inside the fictional eastern European city Sokovia, presents the opportunity for him to retrieve Loki’s robust scepter. Containing vital A.I. needed to reinitiate his Ultron “peace” program. Stark wants to create a shield around the world, so that if anyone like the evil Loki and his destructive minions try to invade earth again, we’ll be ready.
Mark Ruffalo’s Dr. Banner/The Hulk, reluctantly agrees to help put this noble, yet clandestine project together. Neither he nor Tony have any idea what’s coming. It doesn’t take long for our green hero to regret the decision when, during a casual get together, Ultron stumbles out in crippled semi mechanical form, and attacks them with his own creations. Like old Dr. Frankenstein, they have created a monster who literally begins thinking for itself.
Epic in scale, especially in visual effects (I counted at least 19 VFX houses during the end credits), Avengers: Age of Ultron has twice, or may-be thrice the magnitude of the 2012 original. Writer/director Joss Whedon ups the proverbial ante, increasing the havoc as well as the number of new, interesting additions to our heroes mix. He does adequately counterbalance the craziness with enough real drama to keep you from overdosing.
One striking novelty is a seemingly budding romance between Black Widow and the Hulk. You can’t help thinking Beauty and the Beast here. It’s the first real Avengers love affair, and you also can’t help wondering where this may be going. The intimacy is apparent, only teased and not played out all the way.
Besides returning familiars, Stellan Skarsgård’s Dr. Eric Selvig, Don Cheadles Col Rhodes/War Machine, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, and of course the man himself, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, the most engaging are new comers Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver played by Elizabeth Olsen and Kick Ass alum Aaron Taylor-Johnson. “He’s fast and she’s weird”, Cobie Smulders, Maria Hill informs Captain America when explaining their powers. Supposedly the offspring of Magneto, they exhibit an unbreakable sibling bond using their unique fighting skills for both sides of the bedlam.
Paul Bettany, the highbred voice of Tony Stark’s faithful computer “servant” Jarvis, really gets to shine as the Vision. Not only do you actually get to see the actor, you realize that he’s an unusually powerful force to be reckoned with in the Avengers battle against Ultron. Plus, there’s one other thing he does that may make your jaw drop somewhat.
Although returning cast members and director does not necessarily guarantee a better sequel, Marvel helmer Joss Whedon once more proves his mettle for epic super hero fare. He packs twice the obligatory adrenaline potency for rabid fans, showcasing the mind bending action on a worldwide scale, from the shipyards of Bangladesh to the streets of Johannesburg; all courtesy of production designer Charles Wood(Guardians of the Galaxy).
For most of the last 14 years Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has kicked off the Summer movie season with a global blockbuster. Avengers Age of Ultron is hardly an exception. It probably won’t please everyone, but it serves as an ongoing herald of what’s to come. And MCU fans will not be disappointed.View Movie Quotes