The family and I went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron at the weekend at the London IMAX. Here’s some totally non-objective, fan-boyish thoughts. It’s spoiler-free!
I loved the first Avengers film; my wife and I are big Joss Whedon fans since Buffy was released (the caveat here is that I’ve not watched The Dolls House) The Avengers themselves were realised pretty well in their individual films (Iron Man was brilliant; the other two were pretty good) so I was pretty excited about watching them together.
Joss Whedon did a great job of balancing each character’s story while still making them a cohesive team, which was pretty impressive for a team of 6 and a brace of new characters.
Incredibly, he’s done the same again while seriously upping the ante on the number of characters trundling around. You obviously get the original team but you get a brace of new ‘heroes’, a pretty-well developed villain and pretty much every major character from the three solo films appears; and not just in a ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-them’ cameo either; they all get decent screen time for a bit of fisticuffs or a bit of repartee.
Ultron is great; a villain who’s plausibly a threat to a team including a god, techno-marvel and rampaging rage-beast but is also interesting to watch when he’s not pummelling the heroes. We had the normal ‘who’s your favourite’ conversation after the film and my youngest said it was Ultron. My wife and I pointed out that he was the villain but daughter #2 replied with “but he’s sooooo funny!”.
Don’t worry we told her no attempts at world domination until after her exams.
Weaved throughout the story are both references to previous events in the Marvel films and links to what’s going to happen in the upcoming films. There’s no spoilers if you’re not following Marvel’s Plan but if you are and know the story-lines from the comics the future’s looking very cool.
There’s also plenty of action and it’s all in that lovely sweet spot between “this is dull” and “what the hell is going on?”. The set-pieces are brilliant with some fantastic match-ups between heroes and villains; at one sequence my wife told me it was “just like an image from the comics”. The pace of the whole film is pretty fierce with barely any downtime between throw-downs. Even in the lulls there’s plenty of snappy dialogue to make it feel that the film is moving forward at a clip.
The plot itself is pretty standard fare (big-bad vs the world) but there’s some more subtle undercurrents in it as well; the theme of “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” that was started in Captain America 2 continues here and there’s further questions about how far you should go to defeat forces that could destroy the entire world; often the Avengers themselves come down on different sides of the fence with Team Moral Absolutist (Captain America, Thor) squaring off against Team Moral Relativist (Black Widow and Bruce Banner plus their Team Captain Iron Man). This is not some four-hour art-house treatment but it’s at least touched on between bouts of clubbing each other with cars.
The film is great fun; after we left we all wanted to go in and watch it again. I just know I missed loads of cool dialogue in the explosions so am really looking forward to catching it again.