Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 5/16/15
Director: Joss Whedon
Writer: Joss Whedon
Music: Brian Tyler, Danny Elfman
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Spader, Paul Bettany, cameos by Claudia Kim, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Don Cheadle, Stan Lee

"The city is flying, we're fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrows."

There's obviously some continuity I'm missing, because S.H.I.E.L.D. is no more and Hydra has Loki's scepter in their possession at the beginning of the movie. The Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) set out to retrieve the scepter, and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) convinces Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to let him study it for a few days before it's returned to Asgard. Bad move. Stark uses the scepter to create a sentient AI called Ultron (James Spader), who decides that it's in the Earth's best interests to eradicate humankind. That sets the stage for a massive conflict, as the Avengers chase Ultron and his robot army across the globe in a vain attempt to stop him. Vision (Paul Bettany), Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) are a welcome addition to the cast and add to the mayhem and confusion.

There's definitely a sense of finality with this film, as the team dissolves and is replaced with new blood. Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man still have some differences to resolve, which will likely come to a head in the upcoming "Captain America: Civil War" film. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) gets to see a good amount of action and drama this time around, but still seems under-represented. Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) also returns, but has exceedingly little screen time and only a few seconds of action, which is truly a shame. Elizabeth Olsen is quite charming as Wanda Maximoff, and it's nice to have another female in the cast. An unrecognizable Aaron Taylor-Johnson is also enjoyable, but he introduces the biggest continuity flaw in the Marvel movie canon. He is a completely different Quicksilver than the one who was in "X-Men: Days Of Future Past" (2014), and there's no way to reconcile that. Ultron is an annoying an uninteresting foe, who inherits his ego and agenda from the man who created him. The only thing worse than one Tony Stark is two Tony Starks. The romantic angle between Bruce (Mark Ruffalo) and Natasha is oddly sweet, but unnecessary. The film is full of cameos and brings together a large number of supporting characters. Only Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), Jane (Natalie Portman), and Coulsen (Clark Gregg) are notably absent.

As you would expect, the action scenes are amazing and the film is full of super heroic spectacle and massive destruction. Unfortunately, the impact and intensity of the fight scenes are spoiled by Joss Whedon's overly quippy script, which unsuccessfully attempts to inject humor into the proceedings. If Ultron isn't going off on some self-indulgent speech about destroying the world, then the other characters are arguing among themselves and dropping stupid one-liners. It's sad to see the film lose the edge that made "The Avengers" (2012) so wonderfully refreshing in favor of goofy rhetoric. The non-action scenes don't fare so well, and just leave you wishing that more killer robots would show up to break the monotony. That said, while it may be disappointing, it's certainly not a bad movie. It's exciting and visually pleasing, and it fares better than "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (2014). However, it's nowhere near as incredible as the first "Avengers" film was.