I don't consider The Age of Innocence a particularly bad film, just a rather overbaked one that's a model argument for the "less is more" idea of filmmaking. It's a costume drama for the MTV generation, fearful that the audience will not accept the notion that life was rather slow and uneventful so crams it with endless visual tricksiness and a voiceover that holds them by the hand and bulldozes through every possible ambiguity. I know it was held back a year for Scorsese to continue his editing work on it, but if the studio had just told him "no", I can't help but suspect I'd have liked the film better.
It does, however, have the most genuinely human element of any Scorsese film I've seen. By contrast, I find Raging Bull and Taxi Driver extremely unpleasant, with their presentation of human nature as some sort of Victorian freak show, and the deliberateness of the technical element only adding the voyeuristic coldness.
Agreed about "Age of Innocence", though I wouldn't go so far as to say it was for the "MTV generation". Also, though the voice-over did kind knock one over the head, it was also I think a nod to "Barry Lyndon" and at time the actress tried to utilize the same drole and biting humor, as well as preempt the action as well. Still, it didn't work too well. I detested her voice most of the time. Perhaps, her voice was proper in one way though, in that Scorsese constantly reminds us we are not in the Old World but the new, and that these ceremonies are all conducted under the pretense really of good taste. Still, this theme of the immature America is far better expressed in "Gangs of New York", which I feel is kind of like "Age of Innocence"'s far bloodier and less nostalgic cousin.
Elmer Bernstein's score is nice too.
Also, on "Raging Bull" and "Taxi Driver", a friend of mine would agree with you. And in the case of TD, I do too. There is a coldness in all of Scorsese's films, which I think in the end lies in too much interest in technique and too much self-conscious quoting of cinematic influences. Scorsese is like a once-critic of cinema whose passion for cinema supercedes his own innate artistry. Comparing "Barry Lyndon" to "Age of Innocence" for example, it's just unfair. Kubrick has such an eye for striking compositions and such a feel for the cinematic language that it's as if he's doing it all effortlessly. Scorsese seems to have to think about every move he makes. I guess what I mean is I feel there is a cold edge to Scorsese that feels very calculated (funny then that I'm comparing him to Kubrick about whom many make the same argument) which I think in the end separates him from other, greater filmmakers.
For instance, perhaps Scorsese is a far greater virtuosic talent than say Coppola one of his contemporaries, but Coppola's great films touch me far more deeply than do any of Scorsese's for the simple fact that when you watch "The Godfather" you feel a real heartbeat there, but when you watch "Taxi Driver" or "Mean Streets" I'm not sure you can say the same. There's too much grit and too little lyrcism.
Maybe I'm just a sucker for lyrcism though.