PG-13, I think just because James Spader is incapable of being in a PG movie. Heck, the fact that he's a digital creation is what stops this movie from being a James Spader R-Rated movie. They swear enough in this movie that Captain America feels the need to comment on it...oh so hilariously. There's lots of violence because Hulk is more present in this one. Also, there are some nightmare sequences that, while awesome, can be a little scary. PG-13.
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon
I'm so sleepy, guys. My baby...she keeps us awake at night. I have a large mug of tea that's too hot to drink and my email sound won't stop coming through my phone. I don't know why my work needs to send so many emails. Very few apply to me. I might snap and completely abandon the focus of this review in strict condemnation of work email. Anyway, I have mentioned multiple times that I love this movie despite the fact that not many people do, including its director. I'm going to be in sleepy defensive mode, which means I'm just going to strike anywhere with my mighty keyboard of sleepy justice. (My wife actually offered to let me take a nap in the basement, which sounds heavenly. But A) she deserves sleep more than I do and B) I know that the first thing on the chopping block for today's list is this review, so I can't nap. Excelsior!)
The first Avengers is kind of boring. I've talked about this in-depth in my previous review of The Avengers. I like it and everything, but most of the movie is them not being The Avengers. It's the petty in-fighting and the fact that Hawkeye isn't even an Avenger until the absolute end. This movie starts off on the absolutely perfect note. In fact, it might be the only time in the MCU that the characters actually act like The Avengers. They act like a team and they are extremely effective. I know how storytelling works. Characters need to be in conflict for a story to be interesting. In the grand storytelling fashion that is Kevin Feige, we know that the characters need to be friends so that they can be enemies later. Hey, I'm the biggest advocate of Captain America: Civil War. When I heard that Civil War was coming, I lost my mind. I also knew that this was going to be the movie that set up Civil War. But it is so fun seeing them get along for that opening shot. Most of the first Avengers movie, they don't like each other. Less than an hour into Age of Ultron, they also hate each other. That opening scene where they are all working like clockwork is what I wanted. I know it is one moment in a very VERY long franchise, but I like that kind of stuff. In this movie, I now realize that Tony Stark is all about the drama. He's the guy who tears things apart and gets incredulous when people don't just fall in line. Aw geez, I just realized that Tony Stark would make a horrible dictator. He takes things so personally. I am now so much more Team Cap than I thought I was before. But going back to my initial argument, when I hear The Avengers, I don't want to think about disparate members who happen to be in the same movie. I want to hear how they completely lay waste to their enemies. I know that the final set piece in these movies should be The Avengers crushing the bad guy in a huge action violence buffet, but that doesn't mean that it shouldn't be teased either. (By the way, you know that Avengers 4 is going to end with everyone just ripping bad guys apart.)
I think I like what everyone hates. Okay, I submit that the setups for the other movies gets to be a bit much in this one. I love the teases, but this one has way too many of them. Oddly enough, it is so odd to see the teases for Ragnarok considering that they had no idea what the tone of those movies would be. But this movie teases Ragnarok, Black Panther, Civil War, and Infinity War. That's too much. Marvel, when an event is coming up or recently completed, tends to release a comic book that lets readers know what's going to be happening over the next few months. These are little teases, sometimes new / sometimes not, but that's what a lot of Age of Ultron is. That's really unfair to the film itself and I'm sure that this stuff frustrated Whedon beyond belief, causing him to be the supervillain of the MCU. I'll give you that. I like them now that the MCU is out, but it gets to be a bit much. But I do love Whedon's humor. I noticed there were too many notes that the movie tried to be too funny. Why is that a bad thing? I mean, this movie is completely tame compared to what would be Ragnarok. Age of Ultron really came at the worst time for Marvel fatigue. People wanted something different and Age of Ultron is playing up the fact that it is just ramping up a bigger version of the first one. I wanted that. I know that Whedon came out and swore that Age of Ultron was going to be a smaller movie. But the movie, for once, really worked better on a larger scale. Normally, I'm all about Whedon's logic when it comes to character motivation. But Age of Ultron teased that really well. One of the best things out of the MCU is Scarlet Witch's nightmares. For a while, there's been this outcry for a Black Widow movie. Sign me up, because those hallucinations were awesome. I want to see so much about the Red Room and the ledger that Widow is trying to clear. The Cap stuff is fun. It is interesting that Widow's nightmare affects her far much than Cap's does. Cap's has a fun aesthetic, but it is also telling to his character that his nightmare is more of a wish that he had versus Nat's, which is a full on regret. Her visions are so lined with grief. And then there's Hulk's nightmare. That sequence --and I even hear myself right now --is so perfect for this movie. I remember the hype for this movie. When they showed the first footage of the Hulkbuster, I lost my mind. It lived up to every single one of my expectations. I love the idea that this is Bruce Banner's greatest fear ramped up to eleven. The Hulk becomes the monster that everyone is afraid that he might be. He is ripping apart a major city with innocent civilians. Stark is only making the damage worse, despite his best intent. (I'm talking to you, Man of Steel.) The Hulk is such a cool character because he's lovable at times but absolutely a horror film at other times. Watching this is the scariest version of the Hulk, which is a bummer because my kid is obsessed with Hulkbuster armor. I tried showing him a part of this sequence, but Hulk is absolutely terrifying in this sequence.
There's a lot of elements to this movie. A lot of the arguments involved that there were too many elements to this movie. I think it is a tightly woven script, all things considering. I mean, this is a major blockbuster movie that is coming out only a few years after the original. The script is at another level. The writing is really tight. It's a very funny film, and that's all great. But a lot of the humor comes from a character that is traditionally written as humorless. Whedon's take on Ultron is somewhat inspired. I know, a lot of people don't love James Spader and how jokey his robot overlord became, but Spader-Ultron is / could be more compelling than the 616 Ultron. The comics version of Ultron was modeled after Hank Pym. Douglas's Hank Pym is pretty boring. I think I like the comics version even less. Ant-Man wasn't a movie yet. Ultron has always been a pretty standard Avengers villain, but his origin story needed to be changed. Taking Ultron's origin and linking it directly to Tony Stark is a really smart choice. Stark is the most fleshed out character in the entire MCU. He's the guy who keeps making the cameos. He's got the greatest character arc. But most importantly, Tony Stark is the personality type that would allow Ultron to be created. Ultron is the product of hubris. Whedon built Ultron off of Tony Stark's personality. Tony can finally hear how he sounds to people. When Ultron goes off the rails on things, that's just an extreme version of himself. It's a version of Tony Stark that we didn't get to see corrupted by the cosmic cube in the first movie. Ultron gets so angry when anyone questions him and that's just Tony Stark and his need to be right. On top of building a great Ultron, Whedon also made Hawkeye a completely compelling and new character. I'm a little bummed that I'll never get Pizza Dog or the Hawkeye of the books. The Hawkeye of the comics is a hot mess when it come to relationships. But Hawkeye of Age of Ultron is a family man. He actually has his life together. He seems like a good man who has been forced into situations that he doesn't care for. He's the Black Widow who figured out his priorities. Whedon made such a smart choice for this, for Captain America's sake alone. If Cap was ever going to fight for anything, it had to be the center of the family. Clint's relationship with his wife (God bless you, Linda Cardellini) is so perfect because it lets us breathe out while learning something fundamental about the characters. As crazy as this movie gets, it is also about character growth. Hawkeye is a far more interesting person than we thought. Tony Stark is far more megalomaniacal than I thought. Bruce Banner is kind of a pushover.
And then we got Vision. Paul Bettany's story of his life before the MCU is slightly heartbreaking. I heard that he was going to quit acting because things weren't working out for him the way that he wanted to. He agreed to do the voice of a computer in Iron Man, which seems so demeaning for an actor of his caliber. But then JARVIS (let's establish that I'm really glad that Agent Carter introduced the biological Edwin Jarvis) became such a hit in the movies that he eventually became his own superhero? Let's establish this right now: people liked the voice of a computer so he became a superhero. I know that Vision is a character in the Avengers. I like Vision a lot. But the fact that Paul Bettany had no idea that taking this little voiceover gig was going to make him a superhero that people really love. The Vision sequence with Mjolnir is one of my favorite character setups that I have ever seen. That's super fun.
Like I mentioned, there are a million little elements to this movie and I'm so glad that it exists. I wish Joss Whedon could stand proud of this work. I wish it didn't come out in Marvel burnout season because I really enjoy this movie. Now that I've seen Infinity War, I don't know if I can say it is my favorite one. But I really wouldn't mind watching this one every so often as a reminder to why I love The Avengers and the MCU so much.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.