Directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Runner, James Spader, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen
From “nowhere special”, going “everywhere special” — that’s the Avengers’ Maria Hill describing a pair of twins from “Sokovia” in Eastern Europe, headed someplace else.
So clearly Avengers isn’t really aiming for political correctness here. A lot of rebirth — from metal to metal — happens at a church. As Nick Fury scoffs, the robots are “breeding like Catholic rabbits”.
Well, to put it mildly, they are. Somehow, somewhere, in the midst of exploding cities, and the aforesaid Sokovia “where things are very bad”, robots with a semblage of artificial intelligence are springing out of assembly lines and jumping straight into war.
These robotic troops have been marshalled by “Ultron”, forged from a combination of the other-wordly scepter and Stark’s very own programme Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany). The stuff of sci-fi from time immemorial comes to pass again when humankind messes with things it barely understands, particularly when that humankind basically means Tony Stark (Downey Jr). Ultron, whom he is hoping to create as the harbinger of peace, has his own ideas on how that peace can be brought about, leading to world annihilation usually left to the kinds of aliens.
There’s no Loki here from the first Avengers. But the team of Stark/Iron Man, Steve/Captain America (Evans), Bruce/The Hulk (Ruffalo), Natasha/Black Widow (Johansson), Thor (Hemsworth) and Barton/Hawkeye (Runner) have their hands full with Ultron (voiced by Spader) and a pair of “Enhanced” twins. The latter two have special powers which allow the boy (Taylor-Johnson) to move like wind, and the girl (Olsen) to manipulate minds.
Avengers takes barely a pause between its various supernatural clashes, including a really long one between Iron Man and The Hulk, and its collapsing buildings, vehicles, roads and tracks. So, while that means any break is welcome, Whedon really adds zing when he does. Take just one at a party where the Avengers all try lifting Thor’s hammer. It plays to each one’s strengths and weaknesses, and shows that boys will be boys, and girls have the last laugh.
There’s also a budding romance and galloping chemistry between Bruce and Natasha, portrayed wistfully and playfully by Ruffalo and Johansson. Barton gets a family, including a pregnant wife and two children, tucked away on farmland in an undulating countryside. And the values as portrayed by the earnest Steve and the flamboyant Stark continue to clash.
However, at its heart, Whedon, who co-wrote and directed Age of Ultron as he did the previous Avengers, is trying too hard and failing to make his film about the dangers in man playing god. Almost always, that story ends only one way.
Not that the Avengers story has to be like that, no. There will be more films, more villains to slay, and always, an Ultron going ultra.