- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
On his second movie with the Avengers (subtitled Age of Ultron), writer-director Joss Whedon has once again rounded up all of the top-tier Marvel superheroes and embroiled them in another world cataclysm scenario against a seemingly unbeatable antagonist. Once again humanity gets saved amid tremendous destruction and with a few major lives lost, but while the action is well paced and the characters probed more thoughtfully than before, the film still has the feeling of déjà vu about it. One looks forward one day to a superhero movie that somehow will not revolve around the destruction of the human race.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 Hr. 21 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 10/02/2015
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
After defeating Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) and retrieving Loki’s scepter containing the Mind Stone, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) tries to a harness artificial intelligence in a peacekeeping program called Ultron, but things go quickly awry as the emerging super computer program (voiced by James Spader) plans to eliminate humanity as a means of cleansing the planet and starting over. Stark’s Iron Man along with Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. Not only does Ultron equip an army of combat robots to help carry out his mission, but he enlists the help of twins with extraordinary gifts who can help tear the Avengers apart from the inside: super speedy Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) whose powers of mental control and telekinesis will be especially useful for Ultron’s purposes.
Having gotten his six top Marvel superheroes together in the last film, writer-director Joss Whedon doesn’t have to take time finding an excuse for them to band together here, beginning the film with the end of the battle with the team against Baron von Strucker (in the most mediocrely produced CGI sequence in the film: it looks much more like a video game in progress. Elsewhere the CGI is impressive). Whedon can spend much more of his time focusing in the quieter moments showing the camaraderie between the members (until Stark makes his major blunder which, of course, splits the team utterly), giving us insider information about Hawkeye/Clint Barton’s home life, and showing the touchingly growing bond between Natasha Romanoff and Bruce Banner (and alternately, there is also a emotional touchstone between the twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff as they seek revenge early on and then are horrified upon learning of Ultron’s ultimate aims). Whedon keeps things personal and emotional when Stark’s artificial intelligence valet Jarvis (Paul Bettany) finds itself at the mercy of Ultron as the first line of defense once the program begins growing in power. Spoiler aside, there is much rejoicing later in the film when Vision emerges once the tide begins to turn against Ultron. Whedon shows some of the mind control fantasies that the Scarlet Witch plants into the brains of the various Avengers, but as vivid as they are, they seem to lack a strong follow-up for the time invested in them. All of the fight scenes, from the opening raid on Sokovia through Ultron’s disruption of a celebratory party to the elongated climactic face-off between Ultron and his drone army and the Avengers and their comrades-in-arms, are sustained beautifully by the director who keeps the action moving with ebbs and flows in one-upmanship and objectives in the battles always clearly in focus.
Whereas Robert Downey Jr. seemed to rather steal much of the first Avengers from his cohorts, time seems to have been more fairly divided between the stars this time out giving especially Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson the opportunity to develop characterizations that one doesn’t often find in a superhero action movie. James Spader is having a grand old time spouting aphorisms and being subtly threatening without having to be grandly over-the-top. It’s always nice to see stalwarts from the Marvel world like Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, Don Cheadle’s War Machine, and Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter make brief appearances at special moments, and Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron-Taylor Johnson make terrific additions to this special comic world. And, one looks very forward to what Paul Bettany will bring to future installments of the series as his new entity Vision now joins the Avengers team.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Due to the heavy use of CGI, there’s a deliberate slight softness and cloudiness to the imagery to make everything blend as in one, perfectly understandable but not the razor sharpness of transfers of other types of films. Color is certainly rich and rewarding with skin tones very realistic and appealing. Black levels are fine, in line with the other imagery. The movie has been divided into 14 chapters.
The movie was converted to 3D for theatrical exhibition, and a 3D disc package is available but is not reviewed here.
Audio Rating: 4.5/5
Apart from a lower-than-necessary volume level which will likely necessitate user adjustment upward, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix offers the kinds of split effects audio extravaganza that one expects from these kinds of superhero thrillers. Dialogue has been well recorded and can be mostly found in the center channel though there are some impressive uses of directionalized dialogue at appropriate moments which give the soundstage a wide range of depth. Background music chores have been divided between Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman (and some of Alan Silvestri’s previous music for The Avengers can also be heard) with the music getting beautiful handling in the fronts and rears.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Audio Commentary: writer-director Joss Whedon goes solo for the track showing genuine gratitude for the myriad of individuals who worked to bring off his vision.
The Making of Avengers: Age of Ultron (20:54, HD): director Joss Whedon, producers Kevin Feige and Victoria Alonso, production designer Charles Wood, and the star cast all contribute sound bites in describing their memories of the making of this second Avengers picture. The different locations utilized for filming get special attention.
Infinite Six (7:28, HD): producer Jeremy Latcham gives us a summary of the four infinity stones which have thus far been utilized in Marvel superhero movies: The Space Stone, The Reality Stone, The Power Stone, and The Mind Stone. Coming up in future films will be The Soul Stone and The Time Stone.
Global Adventure (3:01, HD): director Joss Whedon and producers Jeremy Latcham and Kevin Feige quickly discuss the qualities of the locations used for the shoot: Italy, London, Seoul, and South Africa.
Deleted/Extended Scenes (12:04, HD): four scenes may be viewed in montage or separately and with or without director Joss Whedon’s commentary.
Gag Reel (3:37, HD)
Promo Trailers (HD): Ant-Man, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Meet the Twins
Designing New Powers
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Avengers: Age of Ultron is an enjoyable and fast paced (interesting since the movie runs well over two hours, but there are no wasted moments) adventure comic brought to life. While it’s clear the Avengers themselves will be morphing into a somewhat different group of heroes for the next big adventure, this one certainly took some of the characters out with the bang.
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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