When you have consistently snappy dialogue, actors with great chemistry, awe-striking special effects, and all the wonderful fantasy elements of the superhero film genre, it's hard to go wrong. Especially when you're Marvel. The sequel to the wildly popular The Avengers that premiered in 2012 has its faults, but moviegoers are still guaranteed a good time. Perhaps as a diehard Marvel fan I was biased to love it from the get-go, but Avengers: Age of Ultron got a lot of things right for me. Mild spoilers ahead.
After seeing the dynamic duo of Captain America and Black Widow competing for the championship in the Sassiest of the Sassy Competition--AKA Captain America: The Winter Soldier--I was prepared for plenty of witty dialogue from the whole ensemble. I was not disappointed. My favorite running joke was--well, I shouldn't spoil it, so I'll just say it has to do with Cap being the ole goody two shoes I know and love. I really liked all the interactions between the Avengers, sarcastic and otherwise, because I really got a sense of familiarity and camaraderie that the team didn't have in the first film. The action scenes, of course, were mostly spot-on right from the beginning of the film, as the Avengers take down yet another evil HYDRA base. There's a point where Captain America flips a motorcycle in the air and lands a perfect somersault. One of my favorite moves.
I also enjoyed seeing two new characters: Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Scarlet Witch has the power to make others hallucinate into seeing their biggest fears and uses this on most of the Avengers. Some of the visions fell through--I didn't understand what fear was behind Thor and Steve's visions--but others--like the Black Widow's--helped with character development. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch don't have a whole lot of scenes in the movie, but they make the most of what they have to show a tender sibling relationship between the two of them. I love their ambiguous role as they initially team up with Ultron so they can exact revenge against Tony Stark (everyone seems to hate this guy, honestly).
The main antagonist Ultron, created by Tony with the help of Bruce Banner, is an AI who, like many other robots too smart for their maker, saw all the violence in the world and figured human extinction was the best way to peace. A tad cliché, but Ultron managed to make it seem fresh. I had expected him to remain the stoic and menacing villain from the previews for the whole movie. He was that most of the time, and he had some great lines, but there were also moments where he sounded downright childish (as the "child" of Tony Stark, I suppose that makes sense). I think those moments were supposed to be humorous and indicative of Ultron's inexperience with the world, but they didn't always work for me. I've seen reviews about how this movie was supposed to be a Frankenstein metaphor, which I hadn't realized. I feel ashamed of myself because I just read Frankenstein this semester and I really should have caught the similarity.
Overall, Ultron was a formidable (and badass) foe who did well in keeping me on the edge… y'know, when he wasn't singing a Disney song (There are no strings on meeeee!).
In other news, Bruce and Natasha have a fling. I found their scenes quite adorable (I am, after all, a romantic). When we first enter the sequel, Natasha calms the Hulk down with a lullaby, as she's apparently done many times now. Throughout the film everybody talks about how it's SO OBVIOUS that they have a thing and it's been going on for a while. Apparently I missed the memo, because when we last left off in the first Avengers, Natasha was simply dealing with a (not unjustified) fear towards the Hulk. By Avengers 2, she's already moved into full-blown crush-mode and everyone but Bruce is on board with it. I accepted it, but I also wished I could have seen their uneasy acquaintanceship from the last movie grow to friendship/romance. You know what would have been a great place to put that? A solo Black Widow movie. Ugh, I'm so bitter that the only female Avenger up to this point hasn't gotten her own film.
Anyway, I could geek about this movie for hours, but I have to cut this review off at some point. If you like Marvel movies, you'll find Avengers: Age of Ultron an exciting and entertaining addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's full to the brim with great dialogue, cool fights, and awesome heroes new and old--which can make it feel overstuffed at times, but personally I'm not complaining. Now, it's time to start the countdown to the next Avengers movie.