Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
I enjoyed the Avengers. There are a lot of people who complain about the large number of superhero movies that have hit the theaters in recent years, and I can't argue that every one was a winner (I'm looking at you Eric Bana's Hulk). That said, I loved comic books as a kid and into my college years, and I'm familiar with a lot of the stories that they are telling in these movies. The overarching story for these Marvel movies is well known to be the Infinity Gauntlet line, and that was right in the middle of my collecting days.
The thing that I always wonder in the Marvel universe is the same thing that they are going to rely on for the Infinity War: where are the other heroes? Where are the Fantastic Four? Where are the X-Men? After all, the X-Men's jet was in this movie (although they claimed it was a repurposed SHIELD jet). In the standalone movies like Iron Man 3 or Thor 2, you have the same problem. How does DC deal with this? They create fictional cities and they have Batman - the antisocial sociopath with a plan to eliminate every other hero on the planet.
Okay, enough with procedural issues - what about this movie? For starters, you have a relationship between Black Widow and Hulk's human counterpart, Bruce Banner. Now, I realize they wanted to bring some of the same kind of intrigue as the operatic X-Men series, but COME ON! It's okay to not have the only female in the group hit on one of the men. Can you just leave a strong female character alone? It's not like you even gave her any powers.
There's a bunch of confusion about Tony Stark (Iron Man) in this movie. Did the magic mental thingie that The Scarlet Witch do to him make him make bad decisions, or did she just bring out parts of his own personality that were sitting in the back, behind the narcissism? I wish I could tell you, but they had all of it go really, really vague for no good reason.
Cap is Cap and Thor is Thor. There's no new ground being looked at with either of them, and that's fine for a team movie like this. You kind of need to have some reliable characters who change very little so that the audience has a good reference. For that matter, toss in Samuel L Jackson in the form of Nick Fury. His character was supposed to go through the biggest transformation in the past few appearances, but he's pretty much the same guy.
We get a whole lot of Hawkeye in this movie. It's really a strange character to try to focus on, but we get him, we find out what he does in his off time, and we get the idea that he actually has a life outside of the Avengers and SHIELD. He was about as interesting as a square meter of sewage in the middle of a sewage plant before, but they have tried to make him a character that we can relate to. After all, he's just some guy with a very honed skill.
The two new guys are the brother and sister combo of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Now, I wasn't even sure that this was Quicksilver for a while. He has this backstory with his sister and a Stark bomb killing his parents, and he's a different actor from the X-Men movies, but I'll be damned if they didn't label him as Quicksilver. Scarlet Witch has these odd powers of force fields and telekinesis and this thing where she can kind of control minds but not really but kinda but not but yes. Also new is the introduction of Vision, the android superhero. He is built using what they call the "strongest metal in the world." It is supposed to be vibranium, but the strongest metal in the Marvel universe is the adamantium, which is what they made Wolverine's claws out of.
The bad guy, Ultron, is probably one of the best bad guys I've seen in one of these movies. He's got panache, wit, intelligence, and presence. He has everything that Lex Luthor was missing in the ill-fated Superman Returns. James Spader does the voice for the completely CG villain, and he does an amazingly good job. However, this leads me to my biggest complaint - stop using so much CG. I mean, holy crap. The CG wasn't even fresh. It was like they lifted the CG from the old Avengers movies and re-used it. Then, they augmented it all with the Transformers CG, and job done.
Direction was good
Story was good, if confused
Dialog was great
Editing was good
Acting was very good
Bottom Line: Another solid Marvel superhero movie. It was witty and entertaining from beginning to end.