Review: Avengers: Age of Ultron is another 'okay' blockbuster

BY CONOR MCBRIEN | MAY 07, 2015 5:00 AM

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The first Avengers film presented something spectacular, but Age of Ultron fails outdo it.

The highly-anticipated sequel pulled in a sweet $191.3 million on its opening weekend, falling somewhat short of its predecessor’s $207.4 million (which is still the highest opening weekend gross ever). 

That money can be taken to the bank, but it doesn’t feel well-earned.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a film that invoked heavy, chest-swelling sighs throughout its running time. Audiences are in for the long haul. That cannot be argued against. Even the truly dedicated people who will see every film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe must understand the massive amount of fatigue induced by seeing all of the same superheroes navigate similar plot points over and over again.

Ticket prices will go up, but these films will continue to be churned out to what has become an over-saturated market. The pessimist in me (that is, me) says this is not sustainable. The act of making every summer blockbuster into “just another sequel” is tantamount to putting our entire pop culture into a funk. Many parts of these films will be remembered for the rest of our lives, as the most memorable parts of past films have been. Note that “memorable” doesn’t necessarily translate to “good.”

The dependency on escalation will kneecap these films, too. “Good” cannot and eventually will not be trumped by “better” in this case. There is only so much that can be done.

Visually, Age of Ultron is everything a summer blockbuster is expected to be these days. Lots of action, camera cuts, high-speed chases, and huge fights. However, the scale is out of control here. In some scenes, there are too many moving parts on screen. This amounts to over stimulation and an eventual headache. If the intention was to make the audience concentrate on everything, and yet nothing, in a given moment, then by golly the filmmakers succeeded.

Mercifully (or perhaps, mercilessly) the shaky action is constantly interrupted by something that I’m assuming is supposed to be clever dialogue.

Joss Whedon somehow ruined the script through the sheer act of writing it. The film’s little dramatic tension deflates anytime a character opens his mouth to rehash an old quip or spout a new one-liner. This is compounded by the fact that the cast is too big. Each hero can only have so many lines as individuals. When the Avengers assemble, the scene becomes a mess.

Marvel Studios is not the only one guilty of an overinflated cast: the X-Men films suffered from this as well. Dividing the cast up only pads out the running time. Weak characters are sidelined just to watch the gods fight. Powerful characters are sidelined to build up that not-so-precious tension (reflecting the comics a little too accurately).

Nitpicking creative choices aside, the movie is still another in a long line. If you want to (or need to) keep up with these movies, go see it. I won’t twist anyone’s arm to go see it, but it’s there if you have a dull night scheduled.

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