Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

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The first Avengers film was one of the greatest movies of all time. I knew that it would be extremely difficult for this film to match up to it. Still, I had high hopes when I walked into the theater and I was ready for anything that the film could throw at me. Would it be able to live up to the hype or would it ultimately crumble and make me go re watch Man of Steel? Also, what happened to Thanos? In the first film, it ended with him getting ready to attack Earth or at least think about it..yet he isn’t in the trailers so what happened. Behind the scenes drama? These questions at the ready…I saw the film!

The Avengers may have split up after they saved the world from the invasion, but they are back together to reclaim Loki’s scepter. After embarking on many missions to find it, they finally find it at a Hydra base. It seems like peace has finally returned and the Avengers can disband once more, but that is when Ultron strikes. Ultron wishes to destroy the human race and the Avengers must now deal with their toughest threat yet!

There is certainly a lot to say about this film so let’s launch right into it! The tone is identical to that of the first film, which is a great thing. There is a nice balance of humor and action in this film, which makes for a very enjoyable watch. Replay value is not a problem either as I could easily watch this film again tomorrow. There is so much action that you will likely notice extra details each time you watch the film.

Following up on that, the writing for the film is excellent. Avengers: Age of Ultron has numerous jokes throughout the film and with bad or even average writing, it would have gotten old very quickly. As it stands, the jokes come at good times in the film and you’ll be sure to laugh a few/lot of times throughout the film. It can be a little iffy to see the heroes joking during life threatening situations, but I suppose that it takes their mind off of what is happening. I would be upset if the heroes were joking around after someone had been killed or if a friend was in mortal peril, but they typically control themselves in those situations. The film even puts some twists on old jokes from the first title by switching things around a little.

As for the soundtrack, it is essentially the same as the first film. I only noticed one new theme, which played during a somber scene. It was a good theme and the soundtrack holds up just as well as in the 1st film. Admittedly, I would have liked some more new tunes, but for those of us who haven’t seen the first film since 2012, it was likely very nostalgic. I’ve seen the original film around a half dozen times at this point so I am very familiar with the music at this point.

Since there is a lot of action, the visuals need to look very good. I can safely say that they are convincing and I have no real issue with them. This film has more energy blasts than usual, which is great since those really make this feel like more of a comic book film. A certain triple attack towards the end looks really sweet as a result. The only time that the CGI may look a little iffy is the Cap vs Ultron scene during the daytime, but it may just be because he looks so lifelike that it ends up being a little out of place. If anything, you can think of that as a positive since it was so realistic.

Time to look at the main characters. Captain America was my favorite Avenger here so let’s look at him first. He is the noble hero that we would expect him to be and I thought that his portrayal was fairly spot on. From his point of view, I can see why he would disagree with Tony Stark on the A.I. issue. While the captain may have overreacted a little after Ultron struck, it was understandable that he would be upset since his history with secrets hasn’t been a good one. A running joke in the film arises from a scene where Captain America reprimands Tony for using a swear word. That was cool because while it was played for laughs, it was nice to see. Superman and Captain America are two characters who I have always imagined to not use such language. The way that the joke ends could have been better though. Either way, fans of the first Avenger will be pleased with how he looks here. Captain America shows off his fighting skills throughout the film and he makes for a very good leader.

Tony Stark is naturally as charismatic as ever and he is my second favorite Avenger. His heart was in the right place for project Ultron, but messing with A.I. programs never seems to end well for our heroes. I was wondering how Iron Man’s role would be since he blew up his armors in Iron Man 3, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. He just continued to build since then and it makes sense since Tony would never give up on robotics forever. It’s his life after all. He gets a lot of great scenes and Iron Man has shown that he still has what it takes to be the leader if Steve Rogers ever decided to give up the position. With Captain America: Civil War coming up, that could happen sooner than expected.

Thor rounds out the main three and he is still the power hitter here. It is nice to see his strength displayed as he takes on dozens of opponents throughout the film. His combo attacks with Captain America prove to be very effective and having someone who’s Hulk level in strength with the ability to fly is extremely handy. His reaction times are also given their due credit as he manages to counter-throw an opponent who had rushed him. Thor has also grown more competitive as he is consistently trying to outdo Tony Stark and the others. Some friendly competition is always fun and it shows that Thor is really getting close to the team.

As for Bruce Banner, I was thrilled with his role in the first film. I thought that it was perfect and that Bruce Banner’s portrayal was the definitive version of the character. I don’t think that he looked quite as good here and he would actually be my least favorite member of the team. What happened to him being able to control the Hulk? It seems like a rather big plot hole here as the Hulk needs to be calmed down by the Black Widow every time and then he is left as an emotional wreck for a little while. It seems to really contradict the first film. He doesn’t get to act rebellious or get nice banter like in the first film, which hurt his portrayal here because that is why I liked him a lot. I really think that Whedon messed up here, but Banner still had his moments. He just wasn’t the hero that I remembered from the first film.

Black Widow has upgraded her tech for this film so that she is ready for the Ultron onslaught. She looks good in the film as she helps out a lot in many key scenes. Widow gets shaken up at one point, but due to the visions it was understandable. How she copes with it is really my issue. The plot between Bruce and Widow really came out of the blue and I don’t think that it was necessary here at all. Widow just acted out of character when he was around, but the ending of the film seems to have rectified that. She is more likable than Bruce here, but I think she could have been better.

Hawkeye ends up being the best Avenger after the big three and his role here was fun. Hawkeye fans will likely be worried at the beginning since he is taken out of action rather easily, but things go up from there. We get to see how professional he is and why he is the lead archer. Hawkeye means business here and he deals a lot of damage to Ultron’s army, but he still knows how to make a nice wisecrack. He certainly gets a lot of character development here and that is sure to help Hawkeye’s character throughout his future appearances as well.

Age of Ultron had a nice amount of guest stars, which was cool. Some of them you may be aware of and others not so much. I won’t mention any names, but each of the big three get a supporting character who gets a decent role in this film. Nick Fury and Maria Hill are also here of course and they contribute. It makes you wonder how this film will affect the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. show. It’ll be fun to see how that handles this event. The ending is fun and leaves a lot of potential for future installments. Also, you’ll want to stick around for the end credits scene. It’s rather short, but still really good and gets you set up for Avengers 3.
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Still, I’m getting ahead of myself. Now, let’s look at some of the other characters to appear in the film. First up, we’ve got Quicksilver. After his solid role in X-Men Days of Future Past, it was going to be tough for this version to match up. Luckily, I can say that the character was still fun and his speed was handled well for the most part. He’s rather unlikable for the first half of the film, but he does have some solid moments. It’s easy to root for him as the film goes on and even the accent grew on me. His speed is something that the Avengers didn’t really have an answer for and film writers have to be very careful with it since plot hax can ensue. Some did occur of course, but not too much.

Scarlet Witch has interesting hex powers involving probability, which can be tough to show so the film decided to take a solid approach to this issue. They mainly focused on her telekinesis and telepathy. By using these abilities effectively, she can emit energy and create barriers. I much prefer this to her hex abilities so I’m fine with the change. She’s a better character than I expected and I look forward to seeing her become one of the heavy hitters on the team. I would already say that she could take on Captain America and possibly Iron Man. Her abilities should definitely not be underestimated. I don’t care for her in the comics, but the film version was good so I can safely say that this is one of those rare times where the comics were surpassed. I also did like how the film borrowed from the horror playbook during the scene where Scarlet Witch takes on Captain America. We get a Paranormal Activity stutter step as Scarlet Witch demonically backs up and closes the door. It’s hard to describe, but if you have watched a lot of horror films, you will know what I am talking about here.

Ultron is the main villain here so there should naturally be a lot to say about him. His portrayal will likely be controversial and some will like it while others won’t. As an Ultron adaption, I think you will be disappointed. He is nothing like the cold, calculating machine that we are used too. So, if you are to like him, you will just need to think of him as an original villain. With the…intriguing design, that should make things easier. The film decides to give him Tony Stark’s personality so he is a fun villain, he just isn’t Ultron. As this “new” villain, I liked the portrayal. He has some witty banter to be sure and who doesn’t like a good “eradicate the humans” plan right? His strategy was sound and once again it shows how easy planet busting can be. Just wait until Thanos arrives on Earth someday, the stakes will really get high! Ultron was a little weaker than I expected and I’ll get into this a little more in a second, but he was strong enough to still be a fun villain. Loki was probably still more fun, but Ultron was more of a threat, which is a fair trade off.

All right, we’ve looked at the characters and a lot of the positives to the film. So, let’s look at some questionable moments. One scene that I disagree with is Thor’s hammer being lifted. The actual scene is a fairly important one so I won’t mention who does it. You’ll know what I’m talking about once you see the movie, but I completely disagree with the film. There’s no way that this character should be able to pick up the hammer unless Captain America can. After all, being worthy is something that I can certainly agree with. I don’t agree with technicalities that can sidestep the enchantment…simply isn’t possible if you ask me.

Age of Ultron has a lot of action and it is one of the reasons why it is so much fun. The film starts off with a bang in the epic intro scene and the film rarely lets up as more and more action scenes appear. While this is an overwhelming positive as you will never get bored, most of the action scenes are simply action scenes. Like the first film, the Avengers are dealing with armies and no real 1 on 1 fights occur. When some appear, they are fairly short since the villains can’t handle the heroes. There is a point where Ultron is actually defeating Thor handily, but Ultron had been getting served by Iron Man earlier so I still wouldn’t say that he was immensely powerful. I’m assuming that Thor was simply caught off guard. Ultron didn’t get his iconic power up here so he was only a little more durable than the average machine. I’m assuming that Avengers 3 will finally have the big fights that I’ve been looking forward too so that will be fun. I can see some people listing this as a negative since the climax is very similar to the first film’s, but who doesn’t like a nice invasion battle? It gives the heroes a lot to do.

The 1 on 1 fight that we did get was the Iron Man vs Hulk battle. It was a fun fight and while I still prefer Iron Man’s standard gear for combat, the Hulkbuster looks powerful. I’d say that Hulk is still portrayed as the strongest Avenger by a longshot, but with this new armor, Iron Man can now fight alongside Thor for the second spot. The other Avengers are going to need to keep on improving or they will be left in the dust before long.

I won’t say his name for the fans who don’t know about this character, but a certain other android appears besides Ultron. His abilities are certainly potent and I’m glad that the film kept most of them in. The only one that they didn’t show will likely be shown in a future film. I’m not a huge fan of the character here as his personality isn’t really my style, but he’ll be a good ally to have on the team. His abilities will definitely make him a powerful ally and maybe he’ll grow on me. There’s certainly a lot of time for that since he just joined.

I just finished seeing this film about an hour or two ago so I’m trying to make sure that I get down all of the major points that I wanted to discuss before wrapping up the review. With a film like this, you can’t really get all of your thoughts down on a review so I at least want the big ones to be there. It was a lot of fun and I highly recommend watching a big movie like this one on opening day or the night before opening day at least once for the sheer experience. It is a lot of fun to watch such an exciting film with other fans who are hyped for it as well.

A minor thing, but Quicksilver is probably a little too fast in this film. At the speed that he is going, I don’t think that Hawkeye’s attack should have surprised him or that Captain America could have even hit him. Even when Quicksilver tried to grab the hammer, he should have been able to have escaped since it would have pulled him very slowly even considering the speed of the throw. That being said, he is a speedster so I would always find some plot hax there. The film handled it better than most and the plot hax in general wasn’t that bad. Your usual action hero moments at times where humans dodge lots of point blank energy attacks, but no scenes that stuck out in particular, which was great.

The film seems to be rather unchanged from the trailers, which is good. Unfortunately, one of the changes was the scene where Iron Man is trying to pick up Thor’s hammer. I preferred his old line about ruling firmly, yet in a fair way. I also seem to recall Bruce Banner being in a straight jacket or at least something that resembled that kind of gear more than what was in the film, but I’m less sure about that so it really could have just been a trick of the eyes. A lot of things are set up here for future films so you’ll definitely want to continue watching the solo films to get a feel for what will happen next.

All right, I think that’s a good amount of reviewing for now. I made sure to keep this review spoiler free so if you have a question relating to a topic that has spoilers, feel free to drop a comment since I made sure to avoid those topics in the review. Although, I hinted at some because I wanted to mention my take on them so I merely left out the names when necessary. I highly doubt that any film will be able to come anywhere close to this one from this year’s roster, but it will be nice to see them give their best shot. It is too bad that Whedon won’t be around for the next Avengers film, but I trust that it will be excellent as well.
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Overall, Avengers:Age of Ultron was a great follow up to the first film. The first Avengers will always be my favorite Marvel film, but this one is the second best in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It possesses just about all of the same qualities as the first title while having even more action. The only real negative would probably be the plot between Bruce Banner and Black Widow. The hammer scene along with many of the other things that I noted aren’t really negatives so much as things that I noticed. I still find it a little ironic that the Ultron minions had a more accurate design compared to the comic Ultron than the main body, but it helps that point I made earlier about looking at Ultron as a different villain. It was tough deciding between an 8 and a 9 to be honest, but this is the kind of film that really doesn’t come by all that often. I believe that it earned the 9. Granted, I typically score films a little more generously when I just finished watching one in theaters so you may want to take that into account. (I got the full IMAX 3D experience, which was incredible!) Still, I think that I’ll be able to stand by this rating and I will certainly be watching this film more times before Avengers 3. I probably won’t see it quite as much as the first one, but still more than most. If you haven’t seen this film yet, I highly recommend checking it out as the earliest opportunity!

Overall 9/10

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Marvel Masterworks Avengers Volume 5 Review

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With Age of Ultron among us, what better time than now to check out some of the original Avenger comics? It is always interesting to see this Avengers roster as it is a little under powered compared to the average team. This means that the Avengers will have to rely on their wit if they are going to save the planet. There are no particularly great comics here as the team is mainly up against lightweights, but the issues have the typical Marvel charm that we have come to expect.

The Avengers consist of Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver when the story starts. Hercules is helping them out for a little while because he is in the mood. Captain America is dealing with his own issues and Ant Man/Wasp are pursuing their own objectives. The roster is quickly buffed after the first pair of issues, but the starting line up may have been the weakest Avengers team in history.

No worries though, they only had to deal with Diablo and the tricky Dragon Man. It is neat to look back at Dragon Man and see how he has changed. This is one character who certainly got a lot of development even if it wasn’t all good. I miss the days when he was more of a fighter who would just mow down anyone who tried to get in his way. Landing hits on Hercules is fairly impressive as well. Diablo is definitely not interesting though. I have never been a fan of the guy and I am not starting now. His chemical abilities are not very good so his personality was Diablo’s only chance and it wasn’t quite enough.

After that, we had a few more adventures, but the threats weren’t very serious for the most part. The team banded together with the original three Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America) to take on the Mandarin, Living Laser, Executioner, Enchantress, and a few more villains in a fun annual. The heroes were more than capable of taking out the villains there, but it was fun to see the true Avengers once more. I gotta say that Ultimo was given a little too much hype this time though. There’s no way that one blast would be enough to vaporize Thor. It didn’t, but Thor implied that he may not survive such an attack. The Mandarin also chops hard enough to make Cap worried about his shield surviving the blows. It is cool to see how much more respect these villains got back in the day compared to nowadays where they wouldn’t be considered as serious threats.

Another fun pair of comics was when the Avengers set out to rescue the Black Widow and had to tangle with the Red Guardian. He’s essentially a Russian version of Captain America. He looked surprisingly good in the fight as he was actually able to match up against the Avenger in an even fight. Granted that Cap was already weakened from beating up a lot of minions. The Red Guardian saw the light in the end and exited the comic as a decent villain. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing him again.

Magneto also showed up to recruit Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, but his plot hasn’t really ended yet. The Avengers are hot on his trail, but they had to quickly stop to help Hercules stop a titan who had taken down all of the gods on Mount Olympus. It sounds like a great feat, but it just makes the gods look bad. Apparently, they have no guards by the legendary fire, which keeps them all alive. (An extreme deadly weakness if you ask me) It’s a good thing that Hercules had the Avengers to aid him as the fight may not have ended well otherwise.

Captain America’s portrayal is decent, but his fans won’t be very pleased. He struggles with a lot of doubts on whether the team really needs him or not and he even opts to burn down his bridges as he leaves. It reminds me of the time where he insulted the Avengers before running off. Is it just me or did Captain America quit the team a lot back in the day? Ah well, he still looks really good when in combat as one of the original Avengers would be expected to be. Thor and Iron Man get smaller roles as they only appear as guest stars in one issue, but they both look great. It must have been sad for readers to see them go back in the day since the Avengers really aren’t the same without them.

Hawkeye still gets his burns in and he is a fun Avenger. He really talks tough even though he typically cannot back it up. Hawkeye has always been an enjoyable Avenger. Hercules is around a lot, but he isn’t quite as likable. He is just a watered down version of Thor. I don’t think that he has developed into his own character yet and he makes the opposite choice when faced with the same situation as Thor. Hercules chooses his planet over Earth and I don’t think that this was a good call.

As for the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver…they’re all right. This was before the Scarlet Witch became a heavy hitter so she doesn’t look very tough, but she tries to keep the heroes alert and ready for anything. Quicksilver is still really mad at all humans and he doesn’t hesitate to remind us of this whenever possible. Towards the end, he makes the wrong call and it reminds us why you cannot always trust a villain who has allegedly switched sides. It is too bad though since he did have his moments. At times, he acts like Hawkeye and we always need another hot head. His speed is also a useful asset even though the Whirlwind showed him up.

Ant Man looks good as well. This was during the end of his Goliath days and I much prefer that form to his more popular one. It is fun to see Giant Man be considered as a very powerful force since he never looks impressive in the current comics. The Wasp doesn’t look too good though as she is constantly flirting and making remarks about the guys. I really don’t know what the writers were thinking here, but their plans did not work out. She became a much better character in the modern era comics, but until then…she was simply not written well.

The art is solid as you would expect. Once in a while, a face may look a little off, but these pages were drawn the hard way so you have to allow for such things. On the whole, the comics still look great and I’ll always love this retro style. Viewing the characters in their original states is a lot of fun and things were certainly very different back then. It will be cool to see how Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver act when compared to these issues. The writing in the issues is also very good, but we would expect nothing less from Merry Marvel. I actually do miss the nicknames and fun letter boxes throughout the comics. I know that some comics like Squirrel Girl still do this, but it’s more of a homage than anything else. (This is why Homages can be so great!)

Overall, This was a good volume in the Avengers series. It was not quite as exciting as the usual collection since I was not a huge fan of the roster. Hercules is the power hitter of the group and he isn’t even on the team officially. Because of this, the team mostly faces a lot of light weights like the Whirlwind. Magneto is tough, but we haven’t had the big fight with him just yet. So, the collection may not be incredibly exciting, but we can’t have world breaking threats every issue right? Perhaps a break for low level crimes is just what we needed to lower the stakes before sending them right back up. This is still a must read for all Avenger fans as it is a well written comic that is a fun read from start to finish. At around 270 pages, the collection is also of sizable length so you won’t be finishing it in one go. More value for your purchase right? I shall likely be reading another Avengers collection soon, but until then…be prepared for a rather large collection in the near future!

Overall 7/10