Movie Review: Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

Avengers 2 opened last week to a lot of expectations and fanfare - another marquee release from the Marvel Comics that brought back together the earth's superheroes ( discounting Thor from Asgard!) for another last-stand - this time against a megalomaniacal borderline psychotic super-bot called Ultron. Joss Whedon is in fine touch again - giving us yet another supercharged frenetically paced blockbuster entertainer that we all had been yearning for. Avengers-2 has got so much to ground to cover - introduce us back to the all-star ranks of superheroes who would never get along with each other, throw in new characters, whip out a plot-line involving a genocidal robot out to cleanse the world and of course crunch in the never-ending action set pieces chucking them one after the other at us - that there's hardly room to breath. Seriously.

The opening sequence of Avengers 2 is mind-blowing. No compare to anything I've ever seen before - our mighty superhero bunch is trying to retrieve Loki's Sceptre - by storming a fortress, the last bastion of Hydra. The choreographed stunt scenes are absolutely dream-quality good. And the camera pans in on each of our favorite superhero mouthing whip-smart quips and then executing the perfectly timed stunt, taking out armored tanks, machine-gun toting infantry soldiers, moving in perfect coordination. It's a remarkable piece of cinematography and it sets the bar for the entire movie. Very very high.

The Age of Ultron basically boils over from when Tony Stark reviews the intriguing powers radiating off from the Scepter they recovered - and then uses his mad genius to create an artificial intelligence robot named Ultron - that would be the ultimate defense against any more alien powers out from outer space. "A suit of armor around the world". But as things are wont to go, they spiral out of control superfast with the AI waking up disoriented and in desperate need to "topple" his step-father's genius.

Now Ultron - who doesn't really fit into our imagined stereotype of a killer-bot - actually is a force of dark humor. Voiced to perfection by James Spader ( I had such a hard time not to be picturing the "Black List Reddington" when Ultron was mouthing his smart quips laced with philosophical banter)
Ultron nevertheless has a world-destruction mission and our superheroes are hard-pressed to match his gallows-humor and acerbic wit - going up against his creator Tony "I-will-still-quip-without-blinking-my-eyes-in-a-single-breath" Stark toe-to-toe on the dialogs. Got to hand it to Whedon, he really writes razor-sharp repartee for every clever line.

Now with so much start-power on screen, naturally something had to give, right? I really cannot pinpoint my finger on what though. Whedon gives ample screen time to all our A-list superheroes - and on top of that, brings in two more pretty interesting addition to the bunch. The Scarlet Witch (Beautiful Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron-Taylor Johnson who gets to quip, "You really didnt see that coming, huh) - aptly described as "She's weird, He's fast." In addition to this, Whedon actually has the Avengers take a break at an isolated farm-house just to regroup and strategize thier next hit against the Ultron - at flinty Hawk-Eye's family barn. Allowing the reluctant love-story between Black Widow Natasha ( A pregnant Scarlett Johansson looking different in each frame when she shot for this!) and Dr. Banner fighting his own guilt-demons to slowly flourish. Hawkeye who has been pretty much relegated to shooting aliens with a bow and arrow in the last outing actually gets a human touch, much needed and a saving grace to the bunch - who are so focused on just killing aliens or mouthing smart one-liners that it seemed to get a wee-bit wearisome.

Oh a word about the Green Monster. Damn, the fight sequence between Hulk and Iron-man in the streets of Africa was brilliantly shot. We get to see Veronica and the Iron Legion in action. But then again, nothing matches the frantic energy and dream-neat choreography of the intro-scene.

The action flits across the globe - New York to Africa to East Europe. Each place serving as the demolition derby for the fireworks between Ultron's clones and the Avengers. The CGI fireworks, civilians caught in the cross-fire, a heart-rending moment where Natasha kisses Banner only to push him down a ravine, the War-Machine (Don Cheadle - blink and miss!) getting to gleefully spray the bot-minions, a soulful  stirring speech by Paul Bettany's new character ( Psst! yeah!) that acts as the climactic backdrop capturing an all-encompassing theme of the movie around humanity's future - all of this yet again proves Joss Whedon's golden touch. I don't know about fatigue - but herding all these guys into one frame and doing it so wonderfully well without letting us feel weary - is one helluva job.

Why should you watch Avengers-2? It is the complete summer blockbuster package. Get together once more to watch your favorite superheroes take on a mad machine with homicidal insecurities who quips even better than Iron-man. It is oodles of fun, tonnes of blistering non-stop action and it's got super-cool superheroes. Including new ones who can warp your brains and run faster than light. 


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