I had very high expectations for this film, and I wasn’t disappointed. In all fairness this film isn’t as good as Avenger’s Assemble, but all the things that make that film great, introducing the characters to each other and making them a team, isn’t possible. They already know each other. What makes this film so good (and like the first Avenger’s) is very much the villain they are up against.
Ultron is definitely one of the best villains the Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought to the screen so far (Loki in my opinion being the best). James Spader’s performance was sinister yet elegant. He was the perfect casting for Ultron. Having been a bit of a nerd, and having watched the special features about the motion capture performance he gave, it’s all the better for knowing that he wasn’t just in the motion capture studio doing all his work. He was there on set as well and he was creepier as himself with all the motion capture equipment stuck to him, than Ultron is when completed.
I also love that Paul Bettany was able to be more than just a voice. I mean I love his voice, but I also love him as an on screen actor as well. I adored the Vision; I like newly born adults character who have to learn their way in the world. He’s not as naïve as most, but he does have a moral conflict. He doesn’t want to have to kill Ultron, but he knows that allowing him to survive would result in more death. I also liked his interaction with the Scarlet Witch. She can see into people’s minds and all the horror that goes on in there. It’s nice for her to have a companion who is purer.
I had my doubts about the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver on seeing the trailers, mainly because I felt that the film was going to be too busy, with too many characters involved for adequate screen time for them all to develop. I shouldn’t have worried. Joss Whedon is very good at developing stories in a short space of time, and he did a great deal of justice to Wanda and Pietro. I fully understood their motives at every point in the film; they want to destroy Tony Stark (perfectly natural reaction in my opinion) but when they find their ally wants to destroy the world they shift their priorities. They wanted vengeance but not at such a costly price.
Saying that I wasn’t wholly happy about all of the story developments in the cinema cut of the film. Many of the Avenger’s stories come from the visions that Scarlet Witch induced in them, but I wasn’t happy that many of these stories were then curtailed. Naturally of course Tony became the centre of all the problems. Admittedly I think it was more Thanos than Tony that managed to get Ultron to work in the end (at least judging on the credits clip), but I deeply disliked him in this film. I had grown to tolerate him, and I don’t hate him as much as I do in the Iron Man films because he is a very good friend to Bruce, but he let the Scarlet Witch get to him and he convinced Bruce to go behind the backs of the other Avengers.
I also felt that Thor’s storyline in the pool of water was very badly cut out of the film. All of the explanation of what he was doing can be found in the deleted scenes, and the explanation that he was consulting The Norns was actually quite vital to know. I’m quite good at deducing storylines when the filmmakers make you think for yourself, but even I couldn’t guess what he was up to and quite frankly it was just a bit weird. As must as I loved Hawkeye’s family man storyline, some of that could have edited out in place of the two minute scene that explained what Thor was up to.
I loved the film, even though it wasn’t perfect and it is a brilliant sequel to Avenger’s Assemble. They could have gone with the definite money spinner and brought Loki back, which many fans of the films did want to see again, but they didn’t, they used Ultron and I think the film as all the better for it.