The Tardy Movie Review is an irregular feature here as The Tardy Moviegoer finds going to theaters second only to flying to be the worst way to spend time with a mob of strangers. He never goes to opening weekends, nor even second weekends, because the glare of a sea of cellphones in a darkened theater is too damn bright. Idiots ruin movies.
“Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
What incredible battle sequences.
What horrible story when the Avengers stopped fighting and started talking.
The “Avengers” sequel from director Joss Whedon features the best, most thrilling battles of any superhero film, especially the climax in which Ultron corners our Assembled Avengers with about a zillion clones and figures he has the upper hand. And then the Avengers get to clobbering. I can’t even imagine how Whedon storyboarded these set pieces, much less filmed them.
The trouble is Everything Else in the Film, which runs over two hours and feels closer to five.
Thanks to such projects as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Whedon has a reputation for portraying strong women, yet you wouldn’t know it from this franchise.
Black Widow is about the most useless female Avenger in the history of the team, perhaps second only to Tigra. Her inclusion in the first film was a disappointment considering all the great characters Marvel Studios could have gone with.
So I was naturally excited about the addition of the Scarlet Witch, until she came onscreen, that is.
In keeping with Marvel Studios’ determination to undermine properties it doesn’t currently have the film rights to (cough, “X-Men,” cough), Quicksilver and Witch are no longer mutants – they are the products of Hydra bio-engineering. Worst, Witch’s powers, at least in the first half of the film, are some sort of weird telepathic hoodoo, unleashing the victim’s greatest nightmare.
Give me some spectacle, will ya?
The climax boosts Scarlet’s powers considerably, especially after Hawkeye of all people gives her The Talk about either hiding or stepping out as a hero. That moment belonged to Captain America (Sudbury’s Chris Evans). Cap is the leader, the guiding force of the team, the one-man booster squad.
But we spend so much time with Hawkeye and his feelings of inadequacy and his sweet farm life apparently because the character doesn’t have his own film franchise. Listen, I feel sorry for the guy, too, but nobody’s buying tickets to “The Avengers” to see the second-rate Arrow in action. Stop punishing me, Whedon.
Speaking of not having a film, Black Widow had an even worse story, functioning as a romantic interest for relationship-shy Bruce Banner. That was trumped by the big reveal of her origin: She was forcibly sterilized as part of her spy training and cannot have children.
Why, she’s as a big a monster as The Hulk – so she suggests.
The Hulk can level a city in two minutes; the Widow can’t carry a baby spider to term. Both are tragedies, but they’re not nearly on the same page, much less the same book.
And why did Quicksilver have to die? If the film needed a heroic victim, this was the perfect ending for Hawkeye’s arc. His death would have mattered to all the heroes and given something for the other actors to do other than look buff and try to lift Thor’s hammer.
Also, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is worth five Jeremy Renners.
The Vision’s debut was a big YAWN. He’s the good AI to Ultron’s bad AI? That settled that story quickly.
So Cap & Widow are left training the new Avengers: Scarlet Witch, Vision, War Machine – and the Falcon, who no one could think to call when all heck was breaking out across the planet. OK, then.
Verdict: Worth watching when it hits FX, DVRing it and fast-forwarding to the action sequences.
That’s it for the Tardy Movie Reviewer this time. Tune in again when I’ll be late for something else, but at least I won’t be putting up with someone kicking the back of my seat or talking for two hours to their bestie.