Avengers: Age of Ultron Review Marvel movies can be difficult to review initially. Because they share a connected universe, fans’ knee-jerk reaction is to quantify the order of greatness for each film. Was this as funny as Guardians of the Galaxy? Did it tell as gripping a story as Captain America: Winter Soldier? or was this entry a haphazard mess of references like Iron Man 2? These questions might seem relevant to the conversation. But they aren’t. No movie should be judged based upon its peers but should stand on its own merits. The shared universe should be an interesting cameo, homage to what came before or provide a hint of what the future holds, not a weight that drags down the conversation regarding each entry. I can say without hesitation that Age of Ultron is one of the best movies you’ll see in theaters in recent years. What You’ll Like No buildup necessary. The team is assembled, fans know these characters, and they know each other. Age of Ultron assumes that you have watched Avengers and doesn’t hold your hand through a retread of introductions, exposition or backstory. This assumption might contradict my opening, but it is one of the film’s greatest strengths; it revels in the universe created and doesn’t seek to reinvent the wheel. In fairness, I can’t imagine the venn diagram of people who see Age of Ultron without seeing Avengers is very large. The film opens with a spectacular action sequence and team-up moments from the squad, where instead of just being six separate people fighting next to each other, the Avengers come across like a single cohesive organism. There are plenty of action moments, but not a barrage of non-stop explosions. Joss Whedon lends weight and tension to the adrenaline pumping moments, by breaking them up with scenes that further define each character’s development through interactions and internal challenges each hero must overcome. This film is certainly an action movie at its core, but it retains the Whedon humor. Even during a large scale battle, there are moments of comedic relief. There were several times when the theater continued laughing from a first joke, causing the audience to miss the comeback. A second viewing is a must for anyone who wants an opportunity to catch everything in theaters. The returning cast remain on point and play their roles pitch perfect. Evans, Hemsworth, Ruffalo, Johansson and Downey Jr. embody the roles so seamlessly that Marvel is going to have a hard time recasting any of these actors, if necessary, down the line. Renner, who plays Hawkeye, does an excellent job as the audience’s voice and point of view character during many of the scenes. Whereas everyone else is a living legend, god or “billionaire, playboy philanthropist,” he is the man-on-the-street interpretation of events and foil to the rest of the team. James Spader voices Ultron with the swagger of Tony Stark and villainous intent of Loki. Ultron’s AI core could have been played as a simple robotic voice, but that artificial intelligence presents a complicated personality, complete with pitfalls and blind spots which make Ultron more than a Bwahahaha villain…though his ultimate goal is pretty Saturday-morning cartoon bad. The twins aren’t truly characters in this film; they are set pieces designed to drive the action and move the plot. They have just enough screen time to make you care about their struggle, but are designed as a means for Ultron’s will more than fleshed out characters. Maybe this will be rectified in future films, like how Hawkeye is an important character this time as opposed to a villain’s instrument. Cameos within this entry reference the plot of other films but don’t dwell on where each character is within their own personal adventure. The cast assemble to illustrate that this universe is connected and that these heroes are friends off the battlefield as well as dependable allies during combat. The action sequences continue to offer something new and exciting. Yes, you have seen Thor shoot lightning and Hulk smash before, but the CGI team improves each time as does the fighting coordination. I was impressed at the sheer number of combinations that Thor and Captain America used, as they worked together flawlessly to defeat waves of enemies. There was a moment when the entire theater gasped and then was silent in shock (just like the characters on-screen). Not many films can claim to cause hundreds of fans to react in the same manner. (If you’ve seen the film…you know exactly what scene I’m talking about too). What is just Meh… This is a comic book movie and as such will have lots of comic book science. The core subject matter is dealing with evil robots, end of the world scenarios, mythological metals and supernatural phenomena. It is easy to quickly analyze and tear down the film for some of its comic book leaps, but it always explains how the world works and doesn’t make things up in the middle of a fight just for the sake of convenience. Nick Fury seems out of place within this universe. He was the catalyst for the team’s creation but isn’t needed now that they are a working unit. Status Summary Is Age of Ultron better than Avengers? Yes and No. Is Age of Ultron worse than Avengers? Absolutely not. Trying to decide which is the better film will be like arguing the difference between a 9.6 and a 9.7 on some review scales. They are both excellent films, and it depends on your mood which will come out on top. If you like Avengers, this is a great film that you will also enjoy. Unfortunately, if you didn’t like the first entry, this doesn’t break the mold or change the formula enough to sway your opinion. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to anyone who liked the first, enjoys action movies or just wants a captivating 2.5 hour adventure. Must Watch + Team Banter + Hawkeye Shines + Ultron is a Capable Villain + Each Character has a story arc + Every Character Shows Off – No End-Credit Sequence Level Up, Friends!