First Official Avengers: Age of Ultron Reviews Warn You to Lower Your Expectations

Wednesday, 22 April 2015 - 12:21PM
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 - 12:21PM
First Official Avengers: Age of Ultron Reviews Warn You to Lower Your Expectations
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From the beginning, the marketing has made Avengers: Age of Ultron seem like a potentially perfect Marvel movie, but ever since the first reactions to Avengers: Age of Ultron were almost unqualified raves, expectations for the film have been sky-high. But now, the first official film reviews are here, and they're a little more mixed than you might expect.

Critics agree on many things: the dialogue is clever and quippy, the cast is great, the film is character-driven with lots of heart, Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye is an unexpected MVP, and there's plenty of amazing action sequences, particularly the first ten minutes. But there were many points of contention, and I can feel my estimation of the Tomatometer going down as we speak. 

Here are the highlights from the first reviews:

The devotion may be less slavish than that for The Avengers

The reception for the film has been positive, but it might be more mixed than we've been led to believe:

"It's a soufflé that didn't quite rise but is nonetheless exceptionally tasty, especially when served with tempered expectations." - Superherohype

"I thoroughly enjoyed the film, but I spoke to others who have greater reservations. Some found the bombast, explosions and violence far too much – and they loved the first one... While everyone seemed to love the first Avengers movie, as if it were some kind of religious creed, I think this film will be more up for debate."Bleeding Cool

"The thrill is gone. For me, it's a been-there, done-that feeling, like watching the all-star edition of Dancing With The Stars." - Deadline

Ultron is one of Marvel's best villains

"Truth be told, in a world that already has Ex Machina, Ultron's schemes feel a little passé. But Spader's performance as the ultimate Joss Whedon baddie (namely a hugely powerful and extremely chatty villain who's so smart he can make lots of meta-references to the fact that he's trapped inside a movie) is, like just about everything else in Age of Ultron, a lot of fun." - Screencrush

"Ultron, by the way, is a grand super villain, the likes of which have been sorely lacking in the MCU and James Spader is beyond inspired in the role. His mission as a foe is, in many ways, to "reboot" the Marvel Universe and the film finds a wonderful metanarrative in setting the Vision as the Apollo to Ultron's Dionysus." - Superherohype

But some felt that he didn't pose enough of a physical threat to make an impression:

"Ultron makes a strangely unsatisfactory villain because he is such an abstract figure: an idea of cosmic evil rather than its physical embodiment." - The Independent

Marvel's Gender Problem

There were extremely mixed reactions to the gender dynamics in this film; some felt that it went a long way towards making up for the shabby treatment of Johansson in previous Marvel films (which has annoyed me as well), while others felt that this was more of the same, especially considering the new romantic subplot between Black Widow and Hulk.

"I'll confess to wincing a little at Johansson's previous appearances in the series, and the way this brilliant actress seemed to have been cast for not much more than the ability to bend over in a leather catsuit. But this goes a long way towards solving Marvel's women problem – Johansson and Ruffalo's performances would be memorably good even in a non-superhero film, and have a genuine emotional wrench." The Telegraph

"Maybe I shouldn't be annoyed that the only major female character's primary arc is a theoretically unrequited pining for a nice guy with major anger issues, or that said character briefly gets captured by the villain in the second act and tossed in a cage for no reason other than to be rescued by her male compatriots, but yes stuff like that annoy me a little, especially coming from a filmmaker who has a wholly justified reputation for playing different notes for his female characters." - Forbes

It's either a perfect balancing act or severely overstuffed

"Whedon has said in interviews that making Age of Ultron was a 'nightmare' that nearly killed him. The finished result, though, looks effortless... The sheer, exuberant lightness of the whole production amidst all those plots, characters, in-jokes, and references is incredible. This is one of the great juggling acts in movie history." - Screencrush

"Joss Whedon's film gives you [a] pop-culture sugar rush, stacking characters, conflicts, subplots and background treats like tiers of wedding cake – far more than you'd think you could possibly cram into a little under two and a half hours without the whole thing crumbling under the weight of its own calorie count. But the structure holds, and the film flies past at speed. Among its other attributes, it's the first long blockbuster in years to feel short." - The Telegraph

"Age Of Ultron turns out to be a very choppy and unwieldy affair. The problem here, one writer-director Joss Whedon never quite solves, is how to ensure all the Marvel superheroes get their fair share of screen time while also coming up with an antagonist who presents a plausible challenge to their combined might." - The Independent

"There is, admittedly, a disappointment factor to Ultron somewhat reminiscent of Marvel's own early sequel entry, Iron Man 2. Similar to how the earlier followup debuted Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, Ultron brings important new characters to the MCU that, in the interest of screen time, simply don't get their full due and wind up feeling more like they're being placed on the chess board for later use." - Superherohype

"The all-star superhero team-up Avengers: Age of Ultron has so many characters that the filmmakers' attempts to fix the only real problem with the first movie – its simplistic, dopey plot – actually creates more problems than ever before. There's just so much going on in this otherwise crowd-pleasing blockbuster that none of it lingers on screen long enough to feel like it really matters." - Crave Online

"The story is shockingly inconsequential, both in terms of the overall Marvel cinematic universe and even in terms of stand-alone Avengers movies. It hits all the marks, providing big-scale action and the required witty banter, but there is an air of artifice and irrelevance to the whole affair." - Forbes

It's darker and more thoughtful than the first

Everyone agreed that Avengers: Age of Ultron was more philosophically ambitious than the first film, although they disagreed on whether it was successful in tackling its lofty themes:

"Whedon's screenplay has a strong philosophical undertow. There is much musing here on humanity's will to violence and the nature of artificial intelligence." - The Independent

"Since this is a film by Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the mix of myth, pop and camp is business as usual, and he also throws in a bit of Frankenstein and some apocalyptic, William Blake-inspired tableaux for good measure." - The Telegraph

"This is proper Promethean tragedy with Tony Star and Bruce Banner at its epicentre. It is hubris, it is 'there are some things man is not meant to know' and there is Frankenstein, literally it seems with Thor summoning lightning at one point. Men behaving like gods and gods behaving like men, and like the pigs of Animal Farm, it becomes hard to tell the difference any more." - Bleeding Cool

"Unlike Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this Avengers sequel never lingers on its themes long enough for them to take on meaning, and unlike Guardians of the Galaxy, the story is just complicated enough to get in the way of the audience turning their brains off and having completely escapist, breezy fun." - Crave Online

"The whole thing... feels like a would-be darker, more emotionally draining sequel that feels sapped of its trauma and impact, and thus sapped of its relevance to the ongoing story it is telling. It's not a direct comparison, but it plays a little like the theatrical cut of Batman Forever after WB stripped the film of its darker undertones and more reflective moments in a bid not to scare off any pint-sized fans." - Forbes

"It sets up all manner of complicated ideas and themes, issues and perspectives and then decided to just hit them until they stop. It starts off as a more complex, more nuanced version take on some of the issues in Winter Soldier and Iron Man 3 with a shed load more of their own, but then dovetails into a might-makes-right, save-the-innocents smackdown of revenge, redemption and victory." - Bleeding Cool
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