How does a movie studio follow up a movie that, at its height, was the #3 top grossing movie of all time? For Marvel Studios, it was with this movie. The team of heroes jumped right back into action when Tony Stark and Bruce Banner try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, and things go horribly wrong. It's up to Earth's Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans.
While the movie shares no real parallels with the comic, other than the title, it makes itself very well known as a comic book movie. If you follow the plot, it hits almost everywhere on the board as far as the expanse of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Starting out, we have the Avengers infiltrating a Hydra base to retrieve Loki's scepter, and then directly afterwards you have Ultron come into the mix and wreak all havoc on their lives, Hulk fights the Hulkbuster, then next thing you know, they find themselves hunting an Infinity Stone. Joss Whedon manages to do all of this while introducing us to several new characters like Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and the Vision. Granted, all of this does make the movie very fast paced; almost too fast paced, but it manages to not go completely overboard and overwhelm the audience. I do, however wish it was a bit longer so that Joss would have had a bit more room to really develop a bit more and give us a much better payoff in the end.
Joss Whedon did a spectacular job writing and directing this movie. There was so much character development to be seen in this movie, from Brutasha, to Tony freaking out about what the future has in store for them (which ultimately is what urges him to create Ultron...), to Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver becoming Avengers, to Banner clearly starting to make his way into Hulk's head to give us the intelligent Hulk, and let's not even get started on the development we saw in Hawkeye and J.A.R.V.I.S. And with a director like Joss Whedon, there were so many amazing shots and scenes to pick from, but the final battle scene with the Avengers protecting the core in the church is by far one of my favorite scenes in the entire MCU. It had not one, but two full-team shots of them fighting off the Ultron army. The rest of the shots of that entire scene looked like they were comic panels pulled straight out of the book and put directly from book onto screen.
The score by Brian Tyler (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Furious 7) and Danny Elfman (Batman, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mission: Impossible) is one of my favorites to date. It pulls certain songs from Alan Silvestri's original soundtrack to The Avengers, as well as keeps close to the main theme from the first movie, so it feels familiar, but still refreshingly new.
The visual and special effects, as to be expected in every Marvel movie, were amazing. I have to give this movie a special recognition for its effects though because of the Hulk vs. Hulkbuster fight. That entire scene was played out with animated characters, which looked fantastic all the way through. Ultron looked incredibly menacing, and nothing less can be said about his footsoldiers. Also, we must take into account the impressive fact that it has the most VFX shot count out of every MCU film to date. Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out with 2,500, Guardians of the Galaxy ended up with roughly 2,750, then Age of Ultron kicked it up another notch with over 3,000 VFX shots throughout the movie.
There is no poor acting in this film, which, again, should be expected coming from Marvel, and coming from such high bill actors, so there's no surprise there. All of these actors clearly know what they're talking about, have done their research, and love the roles that they're playing, both new guys, and the returning actors. This is plain to see in the final product of the movie, they undoubtedly are having lots of fun and love what they're doing. I have to call out and commend James Spader on his performance as Ultron. He was absolutely phenomenal. I can't watch anything else with James Spader in it without thinking that I'm listening to Ultron talking on my screen (which makes watching him on The Office about 6 times funnier). He was the perfect choice for this role.
I only have one complaint about this movie, and that is that Ultron was too much of a funny guy. In the first trailer, the movie was advertised as a dark, almost scary action/thriller, and Ultron was advertised as cold, evil, and downright terrifying; that, unfortunately, was not the Ultron that we got. Don't get me wrong, I still love the Ultron that we got. James Spader was absolutely perfect for that role, as I said before. Ultron has always been one of my favorite comic book villains, and the movie by no means squanders that for me, but it does leave a little bit to be desired from the villain that we saw onscreen, knowing that we almost got, but will never see the dark, menacing Ultron that was advertised in the first teaser.
Out of all 12 MCU films to date, this is ranked right up at the top for me, just barely topping Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Filled with great cameos and appearances by other characters, including a certain Mr. Lee, superhero action, wit, bravery, and just a little bit of punching, Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron is a straight-forward Marvel comic book movie, with all sorts of new and different things from the comics that any Marvel fan should have little to no problem loving.