A few random thoughts about Avengers: Age of Ultron:
- It’s fun.
- It needed two fewer massive battle set-pieces.
- James Spader’s Ultron voice is wonderfully creepy and sleazy. (By the way, don’t we live in the Golden Age of voice acting? I think Pixar is largely responsible for this.)
- Joss Whedon knows that his job as director is primarily to give us those massive battle set-pieces, and he does that, but I have a feeling that his heart really isn’t in it — in part because, as writer, he knows that those simply ruin narrative coherence. So he always has strategies for threading the story together.
- One way he does this is through creating themes that the characters respond to in their varying ways. Perhaps the biggest such theme in this film is: marriage and children. It’s really a wonderful stroke on Whedon’s part to create a (surprisingly and to me gratifyingly long) breathing-space in the movie set in Clint Barton’s ramshackle house in the country, with his wife and children. That sets all the major characters — except Thor, who, you know, is Thor — thinking about what value they place on such a life. It’s because of this theme that Hawkeye — the one Avenger who has no superpowers, genetic modifications, or mind-and-body-altering training — becomes possibly the most important single character in this movie. (I just wish Jeremy Renner were a better actor, because I don’t think he quite brings it off.)
- The other way Whedon builds continuity is through geeky jokes that recur throughout the movie. There are, as always with Whedon, several such here — one that starts when Captain America tells Tony Stark to watch his language, another based on characters trading the line “What, you didn’t see that coming?” — but the best one is about Mjölnir, Thor’s hammer. At one point Whedon actually turns the superheroes themselves into fanboys speculating about just how the unliftability of Mjölnir works: “So if you put it in an elevator,” says Cap, only to have Tony cut in: “Elevator’s not worthy.” I just love this stuff, which nobody does better than Whedon.
Anyway, as I say, it’s good wholesome overstuffed bloated fun. Thumbs up.
May 5, 2015