Monday, April 22, 2024

Review: “Avengers: Age of Ultron” Is a Huge, Satisfying Sequel for Marvel-Disney Fans


“The Avengers: Age of Ultron” is almost too enjoyable if you’re a Marvel fan. Pretty much everyone’s in it, and we get some new Avengers as well. It’s the perfect middle movie in a trilogy, too, with lots of exposition, character development, and enough of a cliff hanger to make us wait for the inevitable triumphant ending.

In the meantime, Joss Whedon has written a very well constructed script. By that, I mean that I could understand it, and that’s something. Everything is delineated as simply as it could be, with the various superheroes filled in strongly. It’s hard to bring in the stars of the other movies– Iron Man, Thor, etc– without all their baggage. So we learn, for example, that Pepper, Iron Man’s Girl Friday, is busy running Stark Industries. She won’t be in this movie. There is reference to Loki, for Thor Fans. And so on.

But then it’s back to business for the group, including Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, and of course Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man/Tony Stark. Then there are the back up Avengers, so to speak: Anthony Mackie, Colbie Smulders and Don Cheadle are back, and not seen enough. Samuel L. Jackson is running the show, thank God, as Nick Fury.

We have a potential new Avenger in Paul Bettany (who’s really good), and two new young people to lower the age average: Elizabeth Olson and Aaron Taylor-Johnson are perfect additions to the cast. James Spader is the witty voice of Ultron, and there are cameo appearances from Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Stellan Skarsgard and Julie Delpy, of all people. Marvel creator Stan Lee has his usual Hitchcock moment, with lines!

This time, Hawkeye gets a surprise wife and kids with the very agreeable Linda Cardellini joining the cast. Friendships are strengthened, and a romance blossoms that will fuel the third movie. We do learn that Bruce Banner uses Beat headphones, in a big product plug. Silver ones. The other plugs aren’t so obvious, at least not to this eye. They can’t really plug desk monitors anymore since all the computing is done on “Minority Report” type screens in the air. There no glowing Apple logos, thank goodness.

“Age of Ultron” isn’t perfect, of course. It’s a little too long, and has a requisite section that drags. Kids won’t mind it, adults will feel it. The best part of the movie is a big party scene with all the Avengers trying to figure out how Thor’s hammer really works. I’d like to see more of Anthony Mackie’s Falcon next time, but he does get a good scene with Captain America. From a purely technical aspect, I do “marvel” at The Hulk, who’s never been more real.

“Age of Ultron” is a massive hit. I can’t wait to see it again. And it’s funny– I’d like to see it with a big audience, particularly when Tony Stark comments that this “will be a long day’s journey into night– and not the Eugene O’Neill kind.”

And PS it’s not in 3D. Whew! The colors and images are rich enough not to need it.

One last thing: there’s an Easter egg at the end, but no Spider Man. It’s a character from “Guardians of the Galaxy.”


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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