You ever watch an expert juggler, and he’s got like 9 balls in the air, and you just can’t figure out how he isn’t dropping them or knocking them out of the air, and you just sit there with a silly gaping mouth grin wondering how the impossible has been made possible? Yeah, that’s me watching an Avengers movie.
“Avengers Age of Ultron” is director Joss Whedon’s highly anticipated follow up to the massively successful Avengers movie and the latest film in Marvel’s long term plan to eventually create every single movie that’s ever released ever. We rejoin Cap, Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man, Hawkeye and the Black Widow as they face a new foe with a very personal agenda, Ultron. Who, by the way, is expertly voiced by James Spader, whose understated menace is on full display even if his face isn’t. And he’s just one piece of a movie that is firing on all cylinders.
I’ll admit it, these movies have my number, and honestly, I think this one is just as good, if not better, than the first. Yes, I know I’m likely in the minority on that, but think about it. First it hits all the marks the first did with its expert juggling of these characters and relationships. Sure there’s a lot of whiz bang action, but Whedon services the heart as much as the heat and you genuinely care about these superheros who are each dealing with there own monsters on the inside. Second, it’s gorgeous. so many frames feel like brilliantly detailed comic book panels that then catapult into motion. And third, it’s just flat out fun. So many great lines, so many moments of visual exuberance, so many clever surprises, and so many laughs. And any fan service elements, don’t really feel forced and add to the proceedings even as a fan who has never read a single comic book or cracked open a graphic novel. But the best thing for me? The density and the rhythm. What I mean by that is this movie takes so many swings at so many things and connects on almost all of them. Whedon just has such a great grip and knows when to vary the pace and tone so that the audience is always in the palm of his hand. He’s got so many balls in the air, and yet somehow almost none of them seem to hit the ground.
Sure, if you want to pick apart pieces of the film, you can. A few moments of CG, especially in the opening melee, aren’t quite believable. A couple of the one liners tweak that cheese meter to it’s limit. And the plot does find itself in need of a bit too much exposition here and there. But what makes these Avengers movies so incredible is not that they are perfect, it’s that they do so much with such a high level of difficulty and somehow the vast majority of it works. Watching Whedon do these movies is like watching Jordan in his prime. Even though every shot doesn’t quite fall, the way he plays and with the amount of the shots that do go in, you can’t help but be impressed and entertained by the talent and spectacle of it all.
Overall, Avengers Age of Ultron is the best example of the genius of Marvels strategy. Even if it has a few hiccups it’s hard not to leave the meal without finding something amazing to feast on. I say you can’t spell Avengers without a capital A.