When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) jumps the gun and creates an artificially intelligent peacekeeping prototype, he unwittingly creates the villainous Ultron (James Spader), a super intelligent robot who decides the human race no longer deserves to live. Stark, with the rest of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, unite against Ultron to save the planet before Ultron can play out his diabolical plan…
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we get to see a more complex analysis of some of the motivations and complexes of the Marvel Universe All Stars. We see a sensitive side to not so sensitive types, angry sides to not so angry types, and humour from the otherwise humourless. Psychological profiles are explored through the use of dream sequences and flashbacks that threaten to jar the sleekness of these characters, but manage not to. Trust Whedon.
This is of course a natural progression for big-budget sequels but Whedon and his team are able to delicately teeter on the edge of exploring the emotional side of these Gods among men without re-treading into anything too tropey or ham-fisted (Operative word being ‘too’). The best thing about how Whedon approaches his stories is how he integrates tried-and-true fantasy and sci-fi tropes self-referentially and light-heartedly in order for the audience to be shut up, know that this is pure ridiculous fantasy, and to let the sweet, sweet CGI fill your eyeholes with technicolour costumes, flying people and robot-punchings. Whedon is to be trusted. Whedon’s got this.
James Spader’s performance of Ultron steals the film as he provides the perfect slurred-in-thought tone and demeanour as resident baddie Ultron, capturing an eerily believable melancholic nihilist; Passionate, foreboding and unforgiving. In the past, Marvel movies have not quite been able to fully sell their villain as menacing, and the masterminds at Marvel have even purposefully used the one-dimensional nature of their comic book foes for comedic purposes. Ultron, on the other hand, is sensibly darker to fit this darker exploration into this cartoon wonderland, in which an Artificial Intelligence is introduced to the fact we bury so deep – Humanity ain’t all that.
It goes without saying that this film showcases the latest and greatest innovations of CGI, and the filmmaker is very much aware of how much people responded to the long-take action scenes seen in the first Avengers film, somehow integrating as many points of action one could ever imagine on screen at once. Even commenting on this aspect of the film is void, not only due to the very nature of the genre, but also the most obvious reaction: ‘No shit. It’s an Avengers movie’.
Age of Ultron also introduces Pietro and Wanda Maximoff – otherwise known as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. The two succeed effortlessly in delivering extremely melodramatic dialogue in ridiculous outfits with heart and conviction – an acting skill so crucial to the entirety of the Avengers films that it should not be overlooked. Paul Bettany’s performance, finally made flesh with the introduction of Vision, is maddeningly stoic. Imagine Alec Guinness calmly imparting a lifetime of wisdom, whilst wearing a pink swimming cap with a tit on the front. Somehow, you don’t even question it.
And why would you want to?
Whedon’s trademark balance of Cheese and Steez spearheads an utterly gluttonous feast for the eyes.