The year 2015 seems to be an exciting fare for the Indian Hollywood movie fan base. With multiple big releases (FURIOUS 7, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, JURASSIC WORLD, MINIONS, STAR WARS, and others) slated to hit screens, the audience are quite literally spoilt for choice. With the storm created by Furious 7 that released earlier in April finally calming down, the latest release AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON promises to kick up yet another thunder cloud. But will the second installment, in by far one of the biggest superhero franchises that has been setting up the whole concept of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, live up to the audiences' expectations that have been building up for the past three years (post the release of The Avengers in 2012)… let's analyze.
With scepter in hand the team heads back to base (Stark Tower that has since been converted to the Avengers HQ), where Tony Stark and Bruce Banner uncover the secrets the scepter holds. Uncovering an unknown AI (Artificial Intelligence) both Stark and Banner decide to develop a structure that can adapt the AI to fit Stark's dream of creating an Iron Legion, of course for peace keeping. However, from here on the story takes a dramatic turn with the alien AI proving pretty advanced debilitating and eventually destroying J.A.R.V.I.S and finding its home in one of Stark's iron bots, and being rechristened as Ultron. Deviating from the comic Avengers that depicts Ultron as a creation of Hank Pym (aka Ant Man) that first appeared in the comic Avengers #54 (1968), the film shows the AI as a byproduct Stark and Banner's tinkering.
Similar to the comics where Ultron believes that humanity in all its forms in flawed and needs to be exterminated to save the world, the film shows him understanding that the biggest threat to Humanity is humanity itself if it fails to evolve. With this ideology Ultron sets his sights on first terminating the Avengers before bringing upon the earth an extinction event. Initially assisted by both Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch, Ultron manages to wreak havoc with blatant disregard for collateral damage. Thus commences yet another battle between the good and the evil.
The film itself seems to lack a certain 'X' factor (no pun intended considering that Scarlett Witch does group with the X-Men) that the prequel had. Though the action sequences that are a plenty never fail to impress, the viewer is left with a feeling of wanting more, especially in terms of story and depth. For instance Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, a fearful yet svelte and ruthless killer has been resigned to play the role of the monstrous Hulk's pacifier, as she has fallen in love with Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). On the other hand, what works for the film is that since Ultron is based on Stark's consciousness, the audience is treated to some intense verbal jostling that they have known and liked. Simultaneously, Hawk Eye/ Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) who was largely incapacitated in the previous Avengers as Loki's minion, seems to be main focus of the film. However, the makers of the film haven't featured much of the back story (read origin story) of the twins Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch who incidentally are Magneto's children.
As for the performances, Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/ Iron Man is his usual best with witty one liners and stupefying comebacks, Chris Hemsworth as the Asgardian Thor is selflessly loyal in trying to save the home of his beloved Jane, nothing more can ever be asked of Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner who yet again puts up a stellar performance, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/ Captain America still continues to play the man from the past with aplomb. However, a special mention goes out here to James Spader who voices Ultron giving the mechanical maniac a more surreal dimension. However, in terms of direction Joss Whedon has put in a lot of effort in making the film look extravagant which will surely give the fans a thrilling visual treat. At the same time, one feels that the characters look more to be just doing their business on a daily basis rather than being faced with huge threat of extinction. Also, the signature humor from the prequel is in smaller dose in the latest movie. The background score is good but doesn't distract the viewer from the spectacular visuals engrossing the viewer.
Though AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON ends up much like the first, giving the viewer a peak at what to expect next, the film leaves a lot to be desired. The main antagonist Ultron, being essentially a robot/software somewhere, lacks the ability to establish a rapport with the audience, despite James Spader's marvelous job of dubbing for the part. At the same time, the film feels like it is meant essentially to set up each of the characters for their individual stories, effectively building up the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
On the whole, with its stunning visuals and awe inspiring action sequences (especially in IMAX 3D and 3D), AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is definitely the movie to watch this weekend. With the strong fan base of the franchise, it is expected to open to full house all across.