The arrival of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” brings mixed emotions within me. I'm happy to report that the film is completely solid and entertaining. It stands up with other great Marvel adventures (though not quite as good as Guardians or Winter Soldier) and yet I can't help but feel a bit of comic book movie fatigue. Though moments after watching the film I realized that until Marvel delivers a complete and utter trainwreck of a film, what they're doing is actually pretty great. With so many films in such a short period of time they do begin to blend together but as each one shows itself in the local multiplex they consistently prove their worthy of being a worthy and entertaining entry in a canon of films unlike anything anyone has really seen before.d
Overall, I really did like “Avengers: Age of Ultron” even if I didn’t quite get every moment of it. Because of this “cinematic universe” the film really does rely a lot on what you've seen before and that extends beyond the theater – Marvel has two TV shows airing on ABC, neither of which I've watched. Anyone expecting continuing plot elements from the shockers in the second Captain America film will likely be disappointed. The film opens with a battle with the superheros battling the Hydra organization, and after Tony Stark's Ultron defense system goes self-aware and hell bend on destroying humanity are soon whisked away into hiding where they recuperate and strategize. It seems in the ensuing battle Hulk goes on a rampage (obviously) and the public isn't too pleased with the mayhem. I'm not sure I quite get the Hulk's role in this group but I digress.
There are other specific plot elements about glowing CGI stones and a random romance between Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) the former of which will become even more important down the road. Finally Thor (Chris Hemsworth) describes the “infinity stones” to the group and tells of their importance. The real highlight here however is how large a role Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) have here as this feels more like an Iron Man or Captain American sequel more than anything. I've never personally had much interest in the S.H.I.E.L.D. organization and since being overrun by Hydra there isn't much screentime devoted to it.
And what of the many new characters writer/director Joss Whedon has given us? They're all pretty solid. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are initially on the side of the evil robot/humanoid Ultron (voiced by James Spader) but we all know they eventually join the Avengers, right? One of the more interesting developments includes the introduction of “Vision” who sounds exactly like Tony's AI companion JARVIS and for good reason. Whedon's script surprisingly balances the new characters, older characters in a surprisingly funny (the gang trying to pick up Thor's hammer is a standout) and action-packed film that never feels overlong.
There's a lot going on in “Avengers Age of Ultron” and it sometimes feels like a buildup to something even greater but it never really feels bloated and never outstay its welcome. I enjoyed the first Avengers film back when it was first released but never found myself going back to it. This one feels different somehow, though it never quite feels transcendent. It doesn't quite reach the level of “Guardians of theGalaxy” or “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” but fans of all the Marvel films in general won't be disappointed. GRADE: B+