Film Review by Jon E Clist
Avengers Age of Ultron
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth's Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for a global adventure.
Marvel rocks my world and to be totally honest I am a superhero movie fan boy. So it would be an understatement to say that I have been looking forward to this film for a long time. In fact I pretty much love that Disney and Marvel are putting out at least two films a year!
The first Avengers film had a great blend of top shelf action, set on a compelling plot that drew you in not only to the characters but also the intricacies of the good and bad nature's of us all. Here we see it all replicated but with a fresh twist. No the one hand you have Tony Stark, in the previous films we have seen him struggle with the call to be a hero while he battled the ego that made him rockstar like. Underneath it all he wants peace and it is this desire to create in at any cost that gets them into the predicament that they face in the form of Ultron.
Voiced and given attitude by James Spader, Ultron is something rather awesome to behold. There is something playfully evil about James Spader and the roles he plays. In more recent times in TV's The Blacklist, Spader has a masterful presence that he bestows onto his characters. A presence that continually keeps you guessing as to whether he is good at his core or just bad to the bone. James Spader uses his natural speaking voice for Ultron, with no accent or alteration of his voice. While apparently on his first day on set, the cast was so impressed by his performance that they applauded and cheered for him after his first take. James Spader was Joss Whedon's first and only choice for the role of Ultron, because of his "hypnotic voice that can be eerily calm and compelling while also being very human and humorous".
James Spader described Ultron as self-absorbed and immature: "He sees the world from a very strange, biblical point of view because he's brand new, he's very young... He's immature, and yet has knowledge of comprehensive, broad history and precedent, and he has created in a very short period of time a rather skewed worldview." Plus it is awesome how Ultron comes about, however I won't spoil that for you if you don't already know.
Of course it is not just Spader that makes this film rock along! When you add in the new characters in the form of the Wanda and Pietro Maximoff; the supernatural twins with a sad backstory that helps to draw you in to their plight. Any good superhero film needs to have characters that have good reasons to be bad plus the opportunity to choose to do good. You sense from the beginning of the film that given the right circumstances this brother and sister combo could have easily been good guys if given the right motivation and encouragement. Yet after they have seen such pain and loss in their childhood, it is easy for a character such as Ultron to lure them over to a life devoted to revenge. This personal struggle is a great respite from the massive action that is consistently thrown at the viewer from the big screen.
This is big action and once again there are plenty of laughs thrown in to keep the momentum flying along and to link the big sequences together. It is certainly something that Joss Whedon has mastered when it comes to filmmaking. As started in the first Avengers film, there is a continuance of a darker undertone that flows beneath the surface of this film that gives it a little edge without forcing it to an R rating.
As with the first Avengers film, Joss Whedon has put together a comprehensive cinema experience that is fun for all and not just the comic book nerds. Big action, crazy fight scenes, solid storyline and a whole lot of laughs! Marvel- ous!
Releases: 23rd April 2015
Rating: M – Contains violence
Duration: 141 minutes
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
Director: Joss Whedon (Avengers)
To help hide Scarlett Johansson's pregnancy, three stunt doubles were hired. This caused a lot of confusion among the other actors since, according to them, all of the stunt women looked very similar to Johansson. Chris Evans stated that it got to the point where he would say hello and start a conversation with one of them, only to realize mid way that the person he was talking to wasn't Johansson.
Because Ultron was described as 8-9 feet tall, James Spader had to wear an antennae-like contraption made out of a thick piece of wire with two red balls attached to the top that went up his entire back and 3 feet above his head. This was done so that the actors that shared scenes with him would be able to have a reference point for where his eyes would be; the two red balls represented the placement of Ultron's eyes. Elizabeth Olsen stated that this was actually distracting because Spader would be giving an intense performance and out of instinct she would look at him rather than the balls representing his eyes. Much to everyone's amusement, whenever this happened, Aaron Taylor-Johnson would yell, "Red balls! Look at his balls, Lizzie!" at her in order to get her to look in the right direction.
The trailer was viewed 34 million times on YouTube in the first 24 hours after it was released. This broke the record that was previously held by Iron Man 3 (2013).
At his panel during the Salt Lake Comic-Con, Stan Lee stated that his cameo in this film is his favorite cameo he has done.
In the first trailer, Ultron recites "No Strings On Me", a song from Pinocchio (1940), a Walt Disney film about an inanimate being who gains sentience; Ultron serves as a dark parallel of Pinocchio.
Thanos was considered to be the next villain, but Whedon decided against him in favor of Ultron: "We have to stay grounded. It's part of what makes the Marvel universe click, their relationship to the real world. Thanos is not out of the mix, but Thanos was never meant to be the next villain - he's always been the overlord of villainy and darkness." Instead, Thanos was scheduled to appear for the finale, Avengers: Infinity War - Part I (2018) and Avengers: Infinity War - Part II (2019).
After this film and Avengers 3, Robert Downey Jr. would retire from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Downey signed on for Captain America: Civil War (2016).