Review: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ takes an unexpected turn


Avengers Assemble! (Walt Disney Pictures)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at The views expressed are his own.

Secret ending? Mid credits scene, but no post credits scene.

Running time: 141 minutes (~2.25 hours)

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a superhero movie that’s the second in the “Avengers” franchise, that’s set in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe. It sees the Avengers battling Ultron, a rogue android of their own design. It stars Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton/Hawkeye), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (Vision/JARVIS), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), Anthony Mackie (Sam Wilson/Falcon), James Spader (Ultron), and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury).

It’s difficult to top the expectations that were set by “Avengers” and the subsequent Marvel movies after that — each one promised bigger stakes, more dramatic explosions, and more drastic changes to the status quo. The bevy of Marvel movies have also set a certain fun-loving style, that the characters know they’re interacting in a larger-than-life universe where anything and everything can happen. So were they successful in meeting expectations?


Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). (Walt Disney Pictures)


Extensive character development

Despite the sprawling cast, there’s a great deal of effort put into fleshing out the backgrounds and personalities of all the heroes, even (or especially) Hawkeye. It’s no mean feat given that most of them have had a few movies devoted to exploring their personal struggles, yet “Avengers: Age of Ultron” continues what Marvel does best — soap opera struggles in a superhero setting.

Inventive action scenes

Many of the fights play out like a video game — Captain America and Thor even perform a combo move in the movie’s opening salvo! The battle between the Hulk and Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armour is every bit the entertaining treat that the trailer promised, a no-holds barred slugfest between two titans tossing tons of rubble at each other. Several set pieces involve the Avengers fighting as a unit, which adds to the whole feeling of teamwork in the film.

Philosophical musings

While it may seem slightly out of place here, it adds an intellectual element to the film. It’s not incredibly thought provoking, but the fact that the villain of the piece, Ultron, is able to wax lyrical on all manner of poetic subjects, brings a different take to the usual world dominating villain. Sadly, the musings aren’t resolved as well as they were explored.


Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) in his Hulkbuster Armour versus the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). (Walt Disney Pictures)


Oppressive atmosphere

Whether it’s the drab colour scheme (you can be forgiven for thinking this is a DC movie, what with the gritty colours and washed out backgrounds) or the melancholic score, the film has a sombre tone that’s not going to leave you happy. Even the characters’ attitudes take a turn for the worse, with pessimism permeating the air and a general sense of despair throughout.

Sense of horror

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” feels like the Halloween-themed episode of a series, and stands out as the most uncomfortable of the Marvel movies to watch. It creates a distinct sense of unease (thanks to the machinations of the plot) and the personal nightmares of the characters are a stark contrast to the general light-hearted tale you’d expect.

Unresolved plots

What irks the most is that many of the characters flaws presented on the onset are not overcome, and there’s little resolution tying up the villain’s initial strike on the Avengers. They bounce back from a devastating attack with few repercussions, and there’s no rhyme or reason why they would recover so quickly.


The last stand of the Avengers! (Walt Disney Pictures)

It’s not that “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a bad movie, it’s just that it takes it in a radically different approach from what you have probably been expecting. Ultimately, it’s still a good movie to watch, but fails to reach the expectations set by all the amazing films preceding it. Then again, it’s the two-part “Avengers: Infinity War” that everyone’s truly looking forward to, isn’t it?

Should you watch this movie in 3D? No.

Should you watch this movie at weekend movie ticket prices? If you’re a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yes.

Should you watch this movie at weekday movie ticket prices? Of course!

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” opens in cinemas 23 April, 2015 (Thursday).