Acting with good intentions doesn’t always work out, as Tony Stark (aka ‘Iron Man’) finds out when trying to create the perfect defence. Ultron – an artificial intelligence programme created by Stark – takes on physical form and decides the best way to protect humanity is to destroy the Avengers. With new allies, one of which can manipulate minds, the Avengers are heavily rocked by doubts and suspicion. But with an enemy as all-powerful as Ultron, they will need to work together harder than ever…
Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015) – Director: Joss Whedon
Running Length: 141 mins
Starring: Robert Downey Jnr, Scarlett Johansson, James Spader
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Comic Book
After the humongous critical and commercial success of ‘Avengers Assemble’, the inevitable sequel was always going to struggle to compare, but the fact that ‘Avengers: Age Of Ulton’ doesn’t reach the same level shouldn’t be held against it! Whilst the balance isn’t quite as finely tuned as before, the second outing for the Avengers collectively is still a hugely entertaining, action packed and fun movie.
Writer and Director, Joss Whedon has ensured that the character development is still well-rounded with further back story, humorous banter, genuine weaknesses and ever-present fears. The two new characters (‘borrowed’ from the X Men franchise) suffer from not enough screen time, but they allow the established characters to show a bit more depth (with Hawkeye in particular showing a previously unseen nurturing side). Where ‘Age Of Ultron’ succeeds most is in its quieter moments of reflection and dialogue, such as Captain America shaming Iron Man, or Black Widow opening up to Bruce Banner, or even Hawkeye’s reflections on his contributions.
The action is still frenetic with lashings of explosions and slow-mo punch ups whilst villain, Ultron, suffers from the lack of empathy that comes off a robot villain. Ultron swings from being scary, to sarcastic, to vulnerable, to righteous. His motivations are rather scrambled, but with the playful tones of James Spader, he still makes for entertaining watching. In all, what we have in ‘Age of Ultron’ is an excellent action movie with likable and real characters which will provide fun for all the family.
IS ‘AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The movie opens with a big action scene where the Avengers are attacking a Hydra installation. There is no gore or lingering suffering and the scene is the usual big action punch up. A grenade is thrown into a cluster of Hydra soldiers and the camera pans out for the explosion. No bodies are seen. Iron Man says a moderate curse word and is chastised by Captain America who says, ‘language!’
One character has the ability to cause visions and for each Avenger affected, this takes the form of a hallucinogenic semi-nightmare that reveals their fears. In Tony Stark’s vision he sees the bodies of all the Avengers on the floor causing his distress. One character lunges up at him with blood on their face and says, “You could have saved us.” Thor’s vision has several figures with spiked masks and helmets on. Once character with eyes entirely whited out grabs him and speaks in an intense and manic manner right into his face. He hisses, “We are all dead”.
Black Widow’s vision is potentially the most disturbing. She has flash backs of a time when she was around 12 – 18 years old being trained as an assassin. There are flashes of non-graphic surgery and a scowling man looming over her. She also shoots at a paper target that is instantly replaced with a person with a cloth sack over their face. She is distressed by the vision and affected by it afterwards.
Ultron attacks a weapons smuggler’s factory but in doing so loses his temper. He grabs a character’s arm and severs it at the elbow. This is completely unexpected. There is the sound of blood splattering and the character is in agony. The character is seen later suffering but doesn’t appear like they will die from the injury.
When two characters are describing the death of their parents this could be quite upsetting. They describe their house being bombed, and a ‘hole opening up’ which their parents ‘go in’. They are then trapped by the bomb for several days. The pain in their faces could be upsetting for empathetic children.
Ultron himself initially appears very scary. He at first cobbles a body together from various Iron Man parts but is still pulling his intelligence together. He lurches and jerks in a disjointed manner, and half of his ‘face’ is unfinished, with a metallic mouth slanted like a broken jaw. His first appearance could therefore upset some children. In later scenes he is more complete and less scary to look at.
Although we don’t see why Bruce Banner’s vision is, it causes him to become the Hulk but more enraged than normal, so much so that he attacks the closest city, including innocent people. Iron Man has to fight hard to contain him. Members of the public run from him, terrified. The Hulk rips off the roof of a car and goes to grab the people inside. The camera is from inside the car so we see the Hulk’s hand shoot towards the camera, and then it cuts away. The Hulk also crushes a car with his hands and the woman inside screams in fear. The car crushes nearer and nearer to her in a lingering scene before Iron Man manages to intervene. Having the previously ‘good’ Hulk aggressively attacking a place full of innocent people may be upsetting for kids.
There are several sexually suggestive lines of dialogue. Several of the Avengers try to pick up Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, but are unable to lift it. It is laughed that a male Avenger ‘can’t get it up’. Banner falls due to a fight and lands face first in Romanova’s (Black Widow) chest, although he does say sorry! The enemies’ numbers keep increasing and one character exclaims “they’re multiplying faster than catholic rabbits”.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
Reaching the same level of acclaim as ‘Avengers Assemble’ was always going to be nigh on impossible, but whilst ‘Age of Ultron’ has perhaps suffered from losing some of the character background scenes, the strength of the writing and awe of the action is still more than enough to make it a winner. However, it has scarier moments and dialogue than before and some sexual suggestion for parents to consider. On balance, ‘Avengers: Age Of Ulton’ should be suitable for children aged 9 and over and we would recommend caution between the ages of 7 – 8.
- Violence: 3/5 (lots of action fight scenes but little blood or suffering shown, except for the arm severing scene mentioned earlier. One minor character is shown dead on a screen with the word ‘peace’ written in blood on the wall. This is a quick shot but is shown twice)
- Emotional Distress: 3/5 (Natasha Romanov (Black Widow)’s back story shows hints of surgery and she later struggles to admit that she was sterilised as part of her ‘graduation’. One character loses someone and screams in anguish although the sound is silenced so we just see their face)
- Fear Factor: 3/5 (the flashback scenes are shot in a distorted scary manner and upsetting for the characters involved. Ultron’s first appearance is potentially scary.)
- Sexual Content: 2/5 (some innuendo, two characters tentatively start a romance with one coming out of the shower and the other saying ‘I should have joined you’. One character says to another, ‘I hope you weren’t playing hide the zucchini!’. A potentially offensive (if obscure) reference to ‘re-establishing prima nocta’ (i.e. right of taking first night with newlywed wives) is used).
- Bad Language: 2/5 (one moderate usage, several minor uses. Most curses are chastised. One character says that something another character does is ‘a dick move’)
- Dialogue: 3/5 (Ultron attacks one character who says ‘please stop’ in fear. Two characters describe the death of their parents. Ultron threatens a female scientist by saying that if she screams he will kill her entire team)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of personal demons, pre-emptive fighting, artificial intelligence, collective strength, impossible romances, protecting the innocent and the greater good
Words by Michael Record