The Avengers: Age of Ultron

May 2, 2015 at 6:46 pm | Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ½

Here is the risk that all sequels run: there is an implied pressure to outdo their predecessor. This can often lead to more of the Bigger/Louder and less of the softer/deeper. And, unfortunately, this is the primary problem here. First movies have a sort of natural pacing built in because they have to introduce all the characters. This requires some degree of character development and it slows the action down, often resulting in a slow building of excitement toward the climax. This is what made “The Avengers” work as a film. By the time the Battle of New York (as it’s now called in the Marvel cannon, known as the MCU) occurred, the audience was dying to see the Avengers fully unleashed. That is what made the final battle, and the whole film, so satisfying. But, where do you go from there? Well, director Joss Whedon decided to do what most sequels do: start big and get bigger. The film exploded from its opening scene and then tried to keep that momentum up. As a result, you have plenty of action but not a lot of need for acting. With the exception of some interesting dynamics between The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), most of the characters were treading familiar ground. To that end, even the battle scenes felt like more of the same. They were definitely high paced but there was nothing there essentially different from the first film. Also, unlike the clever and well choreographed action of the first film, this one sometimes had so much happening, it was difficult to focus on it all, giving it a dreaded Michael Bay-like quality at times. I couldn’t help but compare the action here to the brilliant Marvel TV series “Daredevil” on Netflix; that show’s action scenes are elegant in their simplicity and so much more effective. None of this is to say that this was a bad film. It was often funny, occasionally surprising, at times clever and mostly quite entertaining. It was also clearly a set up for more things to come. Marvel Studios has become so focused on this behemoth cash cow they call the MCU that films are beginning to feel a bit like stepping stones along a path rather than ends in and of themselves. This was good summer fare; it just wasn’t much more than that.

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