Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader’s Voice, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson
May 1, 2015 (US Premiere)
Summary for Moms:
Since the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers have tasked themselves with cleaning up the remnants of HYDRA. This leads them to a castle in the nation of Sokovia where they uncover one of HYDRA’s evil schemes: twins (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) granted superpowers by Loki’s scepter from The Avengers. Upon retrieving the scepter, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) discovers that it holds an advanced form of intelligent programming, the exact kind he could use to create a fleet of intelligent guardians to bring peace to the Earth in lieu of the Avengers. He enlists Bruce Banner’s (Mark Ruffalo) help, but they inadvertently create Ultron (James Spader’s voice), an artificial intelligence who believes the only true path to peace is humanity’s end. Together, can the Avengers stop the megalomaniacal AI, or will they tear themselves apart trying?
Avengers: Age of Ultron brings the MCU heroes together again, this time to battle a killer robot. It’s generally not as well received as its predecessor for a number of reasons. I thought it was only a serviceable film the first time I saw it, but upon a re-watch with my mom it’s actually much better than I remember (barring one or two missteps).
While The Avengers had the tough task of depicting the superpowered team for the first time, Age of Ultron pulls triple duty by not only straining the team’s relationship but simultaneously introducing three new characters and a brand-new villain. The Maximoff Twins (here wholly separate from their magnetic dad) are introduced in the opening sequence, which gets the comic book splash page action scene requirement out of the way early. My mom vaguely remembered the twins (and throwaway villain Baron Von Strucker) from the post-credits of The Winter Soldier, but had to be reminded that they had superpowers. Once I compared Pietro to the Flash, she seemed to get it.
Pietro is one of the film’s successes. Despite having a relatively thin beginning, his personality was endearing enough to leave enough of a mark that my mom was shocked when he was *spoiler alert* killed in the third act. She let out a quiet “oh no” upon seeing his bullet-riddled body. Wanda is less successful as her character remains thin throughout and is only really compelling after her brother’s death. However, she has more movies to come, so I’ll let that go.
The Vision is another good addition to the film, if only as the punchline to the Mjolnir contest from earlier in the film. It was a brilliant way to introduce a brand new character during the last 20% of the film (even though he’s basically JARVIS). Even my mom, who wasn’t fully paying attention during most of the beginning (I’ve found she tunes out after too much action), made the connection and was pleased.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (because it’s always a good transition to the topic), a Marvel Movie is usually only as good as its villain. And Ultron, for being a brand new threat, does a pretty good job here. My mom thought he was interesting and thought it was great how he “kept multiplying”. She also enjoyed how he was voiced by the “guy from Blacklist”. Sure, Ultron could’ve been handled a little better. Personally, I would’ve preferred he had fewer quips and fewer lips. A real menacing, terrifying Ultron that was more of an anonymous intelligence that jumped from Robot to Robot instead of having a clearly defined primary body. Regardless, the way he was presented was more than good enough to engage my mom. So I suppose he works for a general audience.
The action sequences in Ultron are also very good. There’re a lot of great setpieces and interesting fight scenes that are very well crafted and generally action packed. However, my mom fell asleep through nearly all of them. I don’t think she even remembers the Hulkbuster fight. She just doesn’t find action sequences interesting. Violence and explosions just cause her to tune out. However, she was awake during Captain America’s fight with Ultron on the truck, as well as the entire final Sokovia sequence, where Ultron “just kept coming”, so there’s a bit of a victory there.
Overall, my mom thought Age of Ultron was “made very nice” and that Joss Whedon did a “good job”. The dialogue was “good”, as is Whedon’s forte, and, despite not being a fan of action sequences, enjoyed how the Avengers “coordinated to fight evil”. It’s a decent follow-up to The Avengers that, while certainly not perfect (I never did cover the unnecessary Thor subplot among some other weird choices), is much a better film than I recall and definitely mom-approved and, for the most part, accomplishes what it sets out to do. And it’s definitely mom-friendly.
- She thought Scarlet Witch looked familiar and was utterly shocked that there was a third, heretofore unknown, Olsen sister.
- When the Vision broke out of his tank her reaction was, “Uh-oh. Who’s that going to be?”
- Thankfully just one post-credits sequence this time. Once again I had to remind her about Thanos and the Infinity Stones, but she seemed to get it this time, since they were referred to in the film itself. I also suppose watching these movies in quick succession keeps this relatively fresh in her mind.