We Don't Need Another Hero

Back when I was gushing over The Avengers, I made sure to mention that not only was I pleased because it was such a great movie, but that I was pleased because it was obvious that Joss Whedon had put a lot of effort into avoiding the common problems that add up to a bad movie. Naturally, expectations shot up after he accomplished that feat with such aplomb, and while Avengers: Age of Ultron is far from terrible, it highlights just how difficult it is to pull off such a delicate balancing act.

As with many Marvel movies, the plot is almost incidental. Heroes must find their MacGuffin and defeat Evil Villain Who Turns Out to Be a Front for An Even Bigger Evil Villain. Rinse and repeat. But that, right there, is part of the problem with this sequel. I can accept that the framework will be the same from movie to movie, so it falls to the writer/director to somehow make that repetition interesting, and in this instance, I'm afraid he fell short.

He at least makes the effort. There's some interesting story to be explored in Iron Man's reckless plan to implement artificial intelligence to defend Earth without putting it through any kind of test or due process and the opposition he meets from the other team members who aren't an Ayn Randian Wet Dream. At least, it would have been an interesting story, if we weren't veering off every three minutes to talk about one of the many tangential plotlines or the many secondary and tertiary characters competing for screentime. This movie is, in a word, overstuffed.

Here's another word: Formulaic. Talk-quip-punch. Talk-quip-punch. Talk-quip-punch. And it's not that the talking is interminable, or that the quips are labored, or that the punches are dull. None of that is the case. It's just a very connect-the-dots approach, in which every string is clearly visible. When a movie is actively disappointing me, I tend to latch onto minor things that do not help its case, like Scarlet Witch, whose powers are never fully explained, but who can do basically anything she's required to do as it's called for. Or a needless death precipitated by yet another idiotic child who refuses to run when danger is looming. Congrats to that character, by the way. He is officially the one billionth stupid kid who ruins everything.

I don't want to make the movie sound more dire than it is. It was...fine. There were some exciting moments, some charming interaction scenes between the heroes, and some fun lines sprinkled in among the bombast. But taken as a whole, the one superhero power this team sorely needs is an ability to trim the fat.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: B-


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