Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
You know exactly what you're going to get when you go to a Marvel movie. You're going to get some awesome action scenes, some great special effects, some chuckle worthy one-liners, a villain that you know won't ultimately succeed, and the Marvel heroes you either grew up with in the books or the theaters. There are no surprises or deviations from that formula in Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is text-book Marvel, and if you liked the first Avengers movie, you'll get more of the same 'Avenger-y' goodness here. There are, however, some huge problems with this movie.
Spoilers incoming. If you haven't seen Avengers: Age of Ultron, and wish to...don't say I didn't warn you.
As I went to bed last night, thinking about the movie I'd just seen, some things kept me up longer than they probably should have. The first problem I had with this flick is that it's clearly a 'bridge' movie for what Marvel is calling 'Act 3' of their Avengers phase, the Civil War. It sets up the next Thor movie, the upcoming Black Panther movie, and the upcoming Captain America movie...but if someone never saw Age of Ultron, would it matter? Aside from the new cadence of the Scarlet Witch, I don't think so. It feels almost like what most movies would treat as a two minute voice over at the beginning of a movie...instead, we got 2 hours of it. Yes, it was an enjoyable 2 hours, but it didn't really matter.
My second problem with this movie...Hawkeye and his farm. About halfway through the flick, it's revealed that Hawkeye is married and has two kids, with another on the way (complete with, "if anything ever happened to you...we need you" speech). Cue the "OH NO, SOMETHING BAD IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO HAWKEYE", which means of course, that nothing bad will happen to Hawkeye. There's a moment late in the film that was basically choreographed the entire movie - Quicksilver takes the bullet for Hawkeye. Quicksilver, whose family was decimated by war steps in front of a family man so his family doesn't have to be decimated by war. It was a good scene, but the more I thought about it, I just wished they had cut all of the farm bullshit. I also wish they would have cut out that stupid Thor subplot of him going into the pool in the cave. I know Marvel is trying to set up the third Thor movie, but that was awkward and useless.
My third, and most glaring problem with this movie is that the Avengers are not held accountable for their actions by the world they live in, and there are two huge examples of that here. First, let's acknowledge that the real villain of this movie is Tony Stark. Not only did he create Ultron, but ultimately, he profits on cleaning up after Ultron with Stark Enterprises. He's like a better looking Dick Cheney. Ultimately, Ultron was Stark's fault, but he simply builds a new Avengers building and all of his past sins seem to be forgiven. Sure, he indirectly led to what can only be estimated at a death toll in the thousands and an entire city being leveled, but there he is, walking the Earth and driving his fancy cars wherever he wants afterwards.
The second example is way more confusing. Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk, rages out and destroys an entire city. Again, death toll in what can only be estimated in the thousands - he's throwing cars, dropping buildings, etc. It takes Iron Man in the Hulk-Buster uniform to finally drop him. The next scene, he's simply in the Avengers plane, and we get a ridiculous voice-over saying something to the tune of, "they're considering arresting Banner, but nah". WHAT? This guy completely destroyed an entire city and they're 'considering' putting out an arrest warrant? At that point, he's a TERRORIST, and the world should be looking to take him down.
I'll end this rant on a positive note. I'll give Whedon credit for one thing in Age of Ultron - he killed a character that actually stayed dead. I was banking on them bringing Quicksilver back to life using the cell regeneration machine that they used to heal Hawkeye, but they didn't, and that was surprising to me. I'm glad there's a semblance of peril for non-A-list players in this universe.