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Blu-ray Review Avengers: Age of Ultron Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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Avengers: Age of Ultron Blu-ray Review

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.



Studio: Disney

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

Rating: PG-13

Run Time: 2 Hr. 21 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray

keep case

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 10/02/2015

MSRP: $32.99




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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Dheiner

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"One looks forward one day to a superhero movie that somehow will not revolve around the destruction of the human race." ?????


Why?


Isn't that the whole purpose of Superhero Teams?


There have been plenty of those smaller stories in single hero stories. The Avengers is a superteam of superheroes. They take on the big-bads of the big-bads.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I think Avengers: Age Of Ultron was somewhere between okay and good, with a lot of interesting little moments that don't add up to more than the sum of their parts.

I could spend way too long breaking down the different things I had issues with, but overall I think it comes down to not really feeling a sense of danger and trouble that I felt during the first one. I knew none of the major heroes could die (since all of their Phase 3 movies were announced before this came out) and the stakes never felt as high as they should have. The first Avengers movie felt like a culmination of the entire Phase 1 period of films, but this just felt like another movie to me and not the conclusion or summation I thought it should have been.

Perhaps if they had started leaving breadcrumbs for this in other movies thought Phase 2 (instead of just one quick scene at the end of Captain America: Civil War) it would have carried more weight.

I used to have a screenwriting professor who loved to tell his classes "show, don't tell". I think part of the problem with the movie is that it spends too much time telling and not enough showing.
 

Sean Bryan

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Dheiner said:
"One looks forward one day to a superhero movie that somehow will not revolve around the destruction of the human race." ?????

Why?

Isn't that the whole purpose of Superhero Teams?

There have been plenty of those smaller stories in single hero stories. The Avengers is a superteam of superheroes. They take on the big-bads of the big-bads.
I agree. I have some issues with Age of Ultron, but the Avengers needing to save the world isn't one of them. That is the main point of needing a team like the Avengers. They assemble to deal with major threats to the world that can't be handled by individual heroes. The more grounded and personal threats are more fitting for individual hero stories (Iron Man, Cap, Ant-Man, etc..).

Though Whedon chose not to explain the back story on this, it seems that the Avengers had re-assembled about a year prior to the events of the film after the fall of SHIELD to go after Hydra and reacquire the very powerful and dangerous Loki's Scepter that they thought was safe in SHIELD's possession. Though it seems like they have made it more of a permanent institution now, even if the roster changes over time.

Though to be nerdy, I would argue that the first Avengers was most certainly not about preventing the destruction of humanity, it was about stoping an invasion that would lead to our subjugation by Loki, not our destruction. Besides Age of Ultron, the only other MCU film where humanity was at risk was Thor: The Dark World, though I suppose Guardians of the Galaxy can be put in that category too if Ronan having the Power Stone represented a potential risk to many worlds. Everything else has been threats on a much smaller scale.

I'm somewhat disappointed in the Blu-ray. The quality of the picture seems fine, but the softness is a disappointment. There seem to be plenty of other effects heavy films that aren't soft to hide the seams, so I'm not sure what happened here. The image quality isn't bad by any means, but I would have preferred it to be a bit sharper. Same with the sound. It's weird that it seems to be mixed so low. And even when you crank it up, the dynamic range seems somewhat compressed or something.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Sean Bryan said:
Though Whedon chose not to explain the back story on this, it seems that the Avengers had re-assembled about a year prior to the events of the film after the fall of SHIELD to go after Hydra and reacquire the very powerful and dangerous Loki's Scepter that they thought was safe in SHIELD's possession. Though it seems like they have made it more of a permanent institution now, even if the roster changes over time.


[...]


I'm somewhat disappointed in the Blu-ray. The quality of the picture seems fine, but the softness is a disappointment.

I think the lack of explanations for certain plot points was one of the film's flaws. The team being re-assembled at the start was one of them. Another is the presence of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man from the start. Iron Man 3 made such a huge deal of Tony Stark deciding to retire and giving up being Iron Man, and to just have him back as Iron Man at the start with no explanation whatsoever cheapens the storytelling in the previous film and shortchanges this one. I'm not saying Downey shouldn't have been in it, but I think it's something that desperately needed to be addressed.


I watched the 3D disc and it didn't seem excessively soft to me, but it wasn't the sharpest thing I've seen either. But to me it looked better than it did in theaters - I saw it twice, once in RPX (Regal's faux-IMAX format with Atmos sound) and once in IMAX 3D, and the picture quality wasn't great at either. The 3D was actually pretty bad in the theaters I saw it at (the convergence seemed off and I saw more ghosting than I usually do theatrically), so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it played much better at home. That opening single shot sequence really is a disaster, though. It's so unrealistic that it pulls me out of the movie right at the start, and it takes a while for me to get back into it. As cool as the idea for that shot was, the execution just isn't there. In my opinion, they would have been better cutting that shot and losing the intro rather than having something so obviously fake looking as our re-introduction to these characters.
 

Jonathan Perregaux

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Let me get this straight. Tony Stark "retires" at the end of Iron Man 3, going so far as destroying all his suits... So when did he build the Hulk-buster? If before IM3, then he should have used it on the Mandarin. If after IM3, he should have used it on Ultron. If I had that thing with the robo-punching fist, I'd use it on every villain as well as Captain America.

But because we need a non-sensical set-piece, he has it handy. Stupid.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Jonathan Perregaux said:
Let me get this straight. Tony Stark "retires" at the end of Iron Man 3, going so far as destroying all his suits... So when did he build the Hulk-buster? If before IM3, then he should have used it on the Mandarin. If after IM3, he should have used it on Ultron. If I had that thing with the robo-punching fist, I'd use it on every villain as well as Captain America.

I think we see a version of the Hulkbuster during Iron Man 3 (as one of his many suits), but it's destroyed at the end of the movie. Towards the beginning of Age Of Ultron, there's a brief conversation between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner where Tony talks about Bruce having to look over his shoulder for "Veronica" which is their codename for the device, so clearly at some point offscreen in Phase 2, Bruce Banner came to work for Tony Stark, and they built it together.


This is another example of how I feel Whedon's script spends too much time telling us about things rather than showing us. So instead of any kind of sequence either in this film (or during the other Phase 2 films, like Iron Man 3), we never see Tony and Banner working together to create the Hulkbuster, we just get a line about it existing. At the beginning, Tony and Bruce say they've been working on an Ultron program for a long time, but we never see their previous failed attempts. During the movie, characters frequently tell us that Ultron is everywhere and has invaded the internet and has access to everything, but we're never really shown this.
 

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