(Our friend Rohan Morbey got to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron in advance of its US opening, and yet does not seem to have relished the experience. His original review, which appears in edited form here, can be found as always over at Rohan's site Closing Credits - do follow him on Twitter!)
I looked back at my review of The Avengers from 2012 and the opening paragraph struck me as one which I’d never consider writing now:
“Firstly, I love films based on comic book characters and I enjoy many summer blockbusters, so I cannot complain that I wasn’t part of The Avengers’ target audience. Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Batman, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, X-2, X-Men: First Class, Superman Returns (yes, that’s right) and the greatest superhero film of them all, Superman: The Movie, all range from very enjoyable to truly outstanding in my opinion. It’s interesting to note that all but one of these were released before 2008 when Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk were made and paved the road to The Avengers.”
My opinion on The Avengers: Age Of Ultron is of course in no way linked to what other films may be coming out in the future, but this feeling of utter boredom from start to end (and at 141 minutes this film drags for anyone not fully invested) is indubitably linked to all which has come before it. Three Iron Man films, two Thor, two new Spider-Man stories, two Wolverine spin-offs, four Transformers, three from The Hobbit, the last four Fast and Furious, thankfully only the one Man Of Steel so far, and now two fully blown stories from The Avengers – what’s the difference aside from the character names and the digitally created backgrounds which the actors stand in front of? What of the basic goals: having something at stake, showing audiences new and unique set pieces, a plot which keeps us guessing, and above all else a directorial vision of excitement and adventure to stand up and say ‘THIS film is something you’ve never seen before!’ In 2012 at least Joss Whedon could say audiences have never seen all these characters together on screen at the same time, but his new film can’t even make that claim.
Considering this is coming off of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the most recent film featuring an Avenger, Joss Whedon has taken a giant step back. The Winter Soldier was such a pleasant surprise with the handling of its many action sequences that it ended up being in my top 35 films of 2014 – from a total of 134 titles. Everything that film did so right with its action scenes, especially in the first two thirds, The Avengers: Age Of Ultron seems to purposefully go in the opposite direction.
If seeing [insert any character name here from comic books or 1980s toy
lines] is enough to make one care about the mayhem unleashed on
the screen, regardless of the coherence or tension it may or may not
create, then great for that person. And that’s not meant to come across
as anything but genuine; if I don’t enjoy a film then I hope at least
others can. But it looks and feels the same as most other mega budget films
from the past seven years which on its own is disappointing enough. But it further baffles me how audiences can give a pass to
45 minutes of action which is never once feels like it’s happening in
the world in which it’s set, or looks not
much different from a film which opened last year, last month, or even