Nothing says “Mothers’ Day” like watching costumed superheroes defend the earth. At least, that’s what we say around my house. Our local IMAX theater showed Avengers: Age of Ultron in 3-D, and there were plenty of other families in line for the showing we attended. Quality time with the kids and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes was had by all. Well, most.
Reactions were very favorable among my clan, but I did overhear disappointment from some of the other attendees. A friend warned me a few days ago that the first Avengers movie was superior, but I normally give sequels a bit of a break. My expectations were still high, and they were exceeded overall. “Best movie ever,” was my son’s reaction. I seem to remember that he has said that after just about every movie we’ve seen together in the last several years, but maybe every movie is an improvement over the last in his eyes. I have to admire that kind of attitude, and I will surely drag it out to remind him when he hits his teens.
I’ve heard some people say that they’re getting tired of superhero movies in general. While the novelty has worn a bit for me, all I can think about is the terrible attempts made in the ’80’s and ’90’s (that’s the 20th Century, kids). The technology finally exists to make these movies the way they were meant to be seen: in IMAX, in 3-D. This is not some cut-rate Spiderman movie made for television or Punisher movie gone straight to video. This is the real deal, including a cast of outstanding actors and a huge budget to make every detail seem real. How many times can I watch Ironman break the sound barrier and fire missiles out of his arm? I’m going to say “a lot”, or until they want to cast Terrence Howard as Rhodey again.
I loved the first Avengers movie, but I’ve been a fan of comic books since… a long time ago. I’m wholly in favor of Marvel’s attempt at connecting the different movie franchises, along with their television and Netflix properties, into a cohesive universe. At times, it does grow a bit tiring for me to see the grand arc of the drama play out, but as long as the quality of the individual films isn’t compromised I will keep watching them. The first movie was, after all, the building of the Avengers as a team, and it played the individual personalities against each other with plenty of mistrust and character development to back it up. Tony Stark’s arrogance, Thor’s stubbornness, Captain America’s antiquated ideals, and Bruce Banner’s fear of the Hulk’s violence were all obstacles that needed to be overcome. Joss Wheadon’s skill allowed all of the characters to seem vital without wasting too much time on back-stories to explain their differences and opposing opinions. It’s a difficult job with such an ensemble cast, and I thought he made it look easy.
In this second Avengers movie, we get to see the team in action once again. This time, they’ve all bought into their roles as teammates, and they’ve learned to work well together. But Stark has always been arrogant and self-reliant, and when he decides he knows best how to protect the earth against extraterrestrial threats, he doesn’t seek the counsel of his entire team. It’s nice to see some familiar issues brought into such a fantastic world. Should we develop technology because we can and without fully considering the consequences? Enter Ultron, a worthy adversary for the Avengers and one of their own making.
As a whole, I felt the movie delivered everything I wanted, including some surprises and inclusion of characters I wasn’t expecting, even after seeing the trailers for months now. The action was superb, and I marveled (no pun intended) at the ability of the story to maintain its frantic pace for such long periods. Humor was injected here and there to keep the movie lighter than it might have otherwise been. Though one or two times I felt it detracted from the overall mood, its use to show the bonds among the different Avengers was welcome and valuable to understanding their friendships.
I encourage fans of the genre, and especially of the last Avengers film, to check out Age of Ultron. While the 3-D IMAX treatment was a nice addition, I certainly think it would be just as enjoyable at your favorite theater. It will likely join my blue-ray collection at some point as well.