Sunday, 11 October 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Avengers: Age of Ultron is Joss Whedon's response to the mass carnage of Zack Snyder's Man of Steel.

Where Snyder treats collateral damage as a necessary inconvenience (a la Michael Bay and American foreign policy), Whedon goes to great lengths to save innocents, even if it means risking the lives of his heroes, and surely that is what being a hero is all about. The main question that Age of Ultron asks is whether the sacrifice of a few to save the many can ever be justified? Take, for example, a city under siege; the besieging army promise to stop the attack and in the process save many thousands of lives if the inhabitants deliver to them a single child, in the knowledge that he will be killed. How much is their lives worth? One child, two, one hundred? In other words, if we are prepared to sacrifice a single life to save many then we may as well kill a hundred.

The film is well paced with a much needed quiet 2nd act and a frenetic finale that builds the action over several set pieces rather than rely on the multiple endings so prevalent in action films (yes, Bay and Snyder, I can see you both giggling at the back. See me after class!).

It's nice to see Black Widow and Hawkeye take centre stage and Whedon ground the film with a pair of non-radioactive, superpower-less mortals. Empathy is important in a film and this is always going to be a problem in a superhero movie, but in Age of Ultron we have Black Widow and Hawkeye to act as our empathetic surrogates; we are Hawkeye and Black Widow and they do us proud.

James Spader hams it up just the right amount and seemingly channels Adam West for his portrayal of Ultron. The rest of the cast continue as normal but with a little more depth and humanity than previous films, with Thor questioning his godhood and a growing relationship forming between Romanoff (Black Widow) and Banner (Hulk).

Action-packed and funny in just the right places, Age of Ultron is a superhero film that for once doesn't focus on super-powers and instead on love, compassion and sacrifice. A very human superhero film indeed.

Letterboxd Review

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