Age of Ultron. Go see it.

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The newest Avengers movie. There’s been banter about how it stacks up to the last one, whether you should go see it.  Here are my 5 reasons you should go see Avengers: Age of Ultron.

  1. Joss Whedon directed and wrote the script. Therefore, the plot holds together well, the snappy and funny dialogue makes you enjoy the quiet scenes, and the overall pacing is spot-on. With Joss, you’re never sitting there thinking, “Man, my butt is kind of getting tired.” [That’s the best test for story delivery in a long film: If I realize I’ve been there long enough for my butt to get tired, it’s too long. Or too slow. James Cameron and Avatar, I’m looking at you.]
  2. Nothing on this planet is as snarky and delicious as Robert Downey, Jr. playing Tony Stark. The swagger. And in this movie, Stark really effs up. So it’s snark with a shot of “Oh shit,” a position of vulnerability that makes snarkiness really defensive and (in this case) interesting.
  3. James Spader portrays Ultron, who is digitized in the film by mo-capping Spader (and it’s him delivering all the lines of course). Pure delight. Perhaps the only person in the world who can out-snark Tony Stark. If it weren’t a superhero action movie, you might find Ultron a little kitchy…. but it IS a superhero movie.
  4. For a second film in a trilogy, this is a very strong story. It’s thoughtful, delving into the back stories of some the lesser known characters, delivering more empathy for Bruce Banner/The Hulk, and forcing everyone to ask questions about intelligence, creation, and the way we humans react irrationally to our fears. And how fear of terrorism can often trump good sense. In other words, there are brains behind all the special effects actions scenes of New York getting wrecked.
  5. Everybody walked out of the first Avengers movie saying, “That was awesome!” and also “Who is that Hawkeye guy and why is he an ‘Avenger’ if all he’s got is a bow and arrow? What is this, Legolas from LOTR gets transported to the 21st Century?”  And as someone who never read the comic books, I said all of those things. Age of Ultron acknowledges the army of us who like Hawkeye (it’s Jeremy Renner after all) but wonder if he was the charity addition to the Avengers to meet some kind of weird affirmative-action quota for the superhero world (“Your stories must include 10% non super-people!”)  Joss knows this, and he gives us a rich story for Hawkeye, a contrast between the super-people with their detached lives and the rest of us.

I don’t expect to see this installment 3 times in the theater like I did with the first Avengers movie, but it’s worth a second watch on the big screen and later on Blu-Ray or Netflix.

And all of us need to drop to our knees and thank the Fates that Joss Whedon got to put his hands on these films. All of the Marvel films have to live up to this standard now of excellent writing, pacing, and dialogue. They’ve got a decade’s worth of stories laid out, so even with the departure of Whedon from the series, I’m hopeful.

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