HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Avengers: Age of Ultron
HTS Overall Score:86
Avengers! Assemble! Ok, I’ve been waiting several years to say that once more, and finally the time is here. Marvel closes out (or almost closes out, since “Ant Man” came out just afterwards) Phase 2 of their comic book franchise films with another Billion + dollar grossing behemoth that combines all the heroes of the last phase or two into one location. Joss Whedon helms the film, much like he did the first, and you can bet your sweet potatoes that there is enough pop culture references, trademark Whedon snark humor, and plenty of action to go around. Unfortunately this entry is burdened down with a lot of studio interference (Marvel has a VERY specific design for the franchise) and even at 2 hours and 21 minutes it feels like there was a lot cut out story wise. To put it succinctly, “Age of Ultron” suffers from “bridge” syndrome, where an expected middle part of a trilogy or series is mainly there to server as a bridge between the exposition film (“The Avengers”) and the culmination films (“Avengers: Infinity Wars”).
Picking up right after “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, “Age of Ultron” focuses in on our main heroes once more. The world has been saved, but they have suffered a loss as S.H.I.E.L.D. is no more. The Avengers are the only thing standing between the bad guys of this world and us. The problem is, some of the team are a bit fractured on how to save the world. Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) has been mulling over the consequences of having such enormous power, and he has come to the conclusion that we need someone to protect the world from the HEROES as well as the villains. In a bit of a mad scientist moment, he creates an artificial intelligence to police the world, and to do so without the hindrances of human emotion, including greed, anger and hatred. BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT, this A.I. decides to grow past the confines of its programming and take the next logical step. The only way towards true peace in a world of flawed humans is to get rid of the humans. Uh oh, a bit of a blunder there. Tearing Tony’s artificial intelligence friend, Jarvis (Paul Bettany) to shreds, this A.I., dubbed Ultron, gives himself a prototype body and sets out to wipe out the Avengers….basically the only people strong enough to stand in his way.
As Ultron becomes stronger, creating more and more bodies to switch into and control as an army, the Avengers take loss after loss. Eventually taking a monstrous beating at the hands of Ultron’s new pawns, Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and her twin brother Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a pair of genetically enhanced humans (can’t be called Mutants thanks to Fox controlling the term and the X-Men). Quicksilver is the speedy Gonzalez of the duo, while Scarlet has the ability to use her witchy powers to create visions in people’s heads. Using those powers on the Avengers, she plants seeds of doubt and distrust in the ranks, rendering the team useless. Falling back to a safe house, the Avengers have to regroup, shake off the cobwebs and somehow have to find a way to defeat Ultron. The thing is, Ultron is almost unstoppable at this point and is creating another form to shift into. A form that if fully functional will make him virtually invincible in the universe. Well, that and he has a huge nuclear bomb that he’s going to drop from thousands and thousands of feet up onto the earth and pretty much create another stone age.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54730[/img]“Avengers: Age of Ultron” strangely feels a bit less climactic and visceral as previous Marvel films have been. I don’t know whether to attribute that to the decision of making a whole cohesive world around a dozen other films and super heroes, or whether it was the rumored issues that Joss Whedon had with Feige and crew (going so far as to excuse himself from the rest of “The Avengers” sequels). Either way, it makes for a film that drags in places, and feels rather rushed in others. It’s become very obvious that with the success of the “Captain America” films, Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) storyline has become the main focus for the series, besides the “Infinity Wars” storyline. Much of the film shows the team at odds with each other over moral decisions. Stark is torn up about all of the destruction they cause in their defense of Earth, and is willing to go to GREAT lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen. Even if he makes the world a bit less free in the process. Captain America, on the other hand, is against the use of controlling people and taking a way freedoms to guarantee safety. Something he fought desperately against in WWII. As the two behemoths square off, the other Avenger members start to take their sides with the two opposing forces. This, along with Scarlet Witch’s mind warping, sets up the handoff to the next Captain America films “Civil War” (which is looking to be AWESOME)!
Similarly, the other phase 3 films are setup, with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) seeing a glimpse into the future with a magic pool (that somehow is hidden on Earth without any backstory, a testament to the pieces that were cut out of the film due to the rushed schedule) which sets up “Thor: Ragnarok”. “Ant Man” is teased about at the very end and even a glimpse of “Black Panther” (a little quip by Bruce Banner). With that much brick laying going on, the actual story of “Age of Ultron” gets a 4th act, extending it a bit too long.
One of the bright spots to this movie is the inclusion of James Spader voicing Ultron himself. I sware the man can do no wrong in role like this, and his legendary charisma and charm just oozes from the very pores of Ultron’s metallic frame. Every time he spoke I got giddy with excitement as you could feel the character coming to life. Unfortunately Ultron falls victim to the same flaw that pretty much every Marvel film villain falls prey to. He’s defeated way too easily as most of the emphasis is on the heroes. There’s never enough time to fully develop the character and flesh him out. Instead he just builds carbon copies of himself to transfer his consciousness around in and is torn to part in seconds, much like how Tony Stark can build himself an invincible Iron Man suit, but somehow in the third films they can be torn apart like paper Mache. HOWEVER, with his machinations, with finally get to see one of the greatest Avengers rise to Power. Using the power of the Minds stone (one of the infinity stones trapped in Loki’s staff) the artificial humanoid joins the fight against evil, and in a truly spectacular scene.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54738[/img]Whooooowheeee! Marvel has always done an incredible job with their live action films, and the Avengers part of the franchise is their crown jewels (as evidenced by the ENORMOUS box office hauls these 2 films have made). Filmed in 2.39:1 AVC (which feels strange considering Joss did the first movie in 1.78:1), the Blu-ray looks magnificent to the Nth degree. I already guessed, after seeing how fantastic the film looked in Imax, that the Blu-ray would be amazing, but I was truly blown away how crystal clear and precise the digitally shot image looks. Colors are rich and vibrant, with beautiful reds and blues and greens saturating the picture. Contrast levels are very balanced and natural, with excellent skin tone, and the color grading lends itself towards a semi natural state (comic book movies always look a little bit shinier than your average film). The CGI has been top notch in the series so far, and it’s only gotten better, with Iron Man’s suit looking even more photo realistic and Vision and Ultron so real that you can almost touch them. Black levels are deeeeeeep and inky, with no sign of digital artifacting or any resembling a negative point on the scale. To put it simply. This disc is 100% demo material all the way.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54746[/img]Even though it was given a theatrical Dolby Atmos track, Marvel has decided that there will be no Atmos for us home viewers. Fear not, a very handy DTS-HD MA 7.1 track is still at our disposal, and it shines brightly….with a few flaws I must add. Aggressive and thunderous, the 7.1 track beats away at you with the power of the hulk. Always engaging and immersive, it dances a fine line between roaring action sequences, and softer dialog moments where we see the creation of Vision, and the little more human side of Hawkeye. Directionality is superb, with energy beams sizzling from all sides, and bullets kicking up debris from front and behind. Now, there are a couple of little niggles that keeps this track from being as awesome as some of the previous marvel films. The first being that the track is encoded unnaturally quiet, 10 decibels to be prices. Now that isn’t a huge deal, as turning up your receiver a bit will remedy that situation, but 10 db is a bit much and CAN (not saying will) lead to clipping if your amp/receiver is running close to max. The other part of this equation is a lack of “fullness” to the LFE. The LFE is there in spades, and doesn’t let up, but that sense of incredible thickness and depth that “Mad Max: Fury Road” and other 5/5 rated films have just wasn’t there, no matter how high I turned up the volume. It’s not a major deal, and the track is still VERY good, but it was enough for me to knock it down half a star.
• From The Inside Out - Making of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron
• The Infinite Six
• Global Adventure
• Deleted & Extended Scenes
• Gag Reel
• Audio Commentary by Joss Whedon
“Avengers: Age of Ultron” suffers from a bit of “bridge” syndrome that many middle movies in a trilogy are afflicted with. There’s too many characters, with too many subplots to keep proper track of, and the main villain and actions of the story are just there to push it along until we get to the inevitable “Infinity Wars” film set. I still enjoyed it, as it was quite a bit better than some of the other lesser phase 1 and phase 2 Marvel movies, cough*Iron Man 3*cough, but it didn’t rise to the giddy level of excitement that I had over the very first “Avengers” film. Audio and video are what you would expect of a proper Marvel film (minus a few niggles in the audio department) and I wouldn’t hesitate for any Marvel comics fan to add this to their every growing collection. Recommended as a fun watch.
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, James Spader
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Joss Whedon, Stan Lee
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, French, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 141 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: October 2nd 2015
Buy Avengers: Age of Ultron 3D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Avengers: Age of Ultron 2D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
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