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Avengers: Age of Ultron - Blu-ray Review

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Avengers: Age of Ultron - Movie Review

4 stars

I stopped doubting Marvel’s ambitious or, some would argue, arrogant insistence their multi-film magnum opus would succeed after seeing the first Avengers film. That was just a masterpiece of big budget carnage, and character-driven fun. Something, if I’d remembered everything I love about Joss Whedon’s work, that should have been inevitable.

There are very very few writers/filmmakers out there with the skills and the staying power to deliver a choked roster of ensemble performers and make every one of them count—all the while entertaining our butts off. Whedon has that gift in spades.

In this second Avengers adventure, subtitled Age of Ultron, the team is picking the last bones of Hydra’s ranks to recover Loki’s staff. They come up against a set of twins, one of whom (Olsen) messes with the team’s minds. For Iron Man (Downey Jnr) this exacerbates his PTSD from the first adventure, and forces him into a rather rash decision to create an AI that can allow the Avengers to put their feet up. His creation, Ultron, has other ideas: like man’s extinction.

This movie opens with the characters going full blast at the bad guys and barely lets up for the near two and half hour running time. It is astonishing, considering the story responsibilities inherited from previous movies, and this one’s own plot, that Whedon manages to pay everyone their dues and successfully sets up what is to come in the next Cap movie, the next Thor movie, and two part behemoth Avengers: Infinity War. The man pulls off one of the most heavy exposition stories I have ever witnessed in an entertaining way. There is no slowing, no time for reflection in the plot, and yet this film manages to develop relationships, complicate relationships, and allow you moments of surprise and empathy, as well as horror and pathos.

This is a decidedly darker film, following the pattern most have emulated since The Empire Strikes Back—everything goes to hell. The team are certainly not the same, both emotionally and literally, by the credits. As a result—and it can hardly be considered a criticism—the film just isn’t as fun as the first. It’s not supposed to be.

The carnage and spectacle of the first movie isn’t so much ramped up as it is transplanted to new vistas and locale. It feels a greedy comment, considering how well this film is put together, but Marvel may be in danger of a little fatigue from audiences if they don’t start veering away from the dizzying height finale where shit drops, explodes and people die. There’s absolutely nothing, nothing wrong with Ultron’s finale in execution, tension, and spectacle, but it’s really close in elements to a couple of the other recent movies. Whedon has branched out in his shot compositions and there are quite a few ‘money shots’ that will drop the jaw.

The performers, all of them, are very comfortable playing their respective characters by now. Both Renner and Ruffalo get more to chew on this time. There is a romance between two teammates, some surprise cameos, and a few interesting twists designed I suppose to play out later. Newcomers Olsen and Taylor-Johnson make fine additions to an already choked cast, and are not left in the dust behind the other established heroes.

It is Spader’s characterization of Ultron that gives the movie some teeth. He is malevolent but so very entertaining, and is so convincing of his criticisms of humanity, that he even has Captain America questioning if he’s right or not. That ain’t easy to do. Coupled with his gallows humour (Whedon’s forte again) he is almost charming if he wasn’t so merciless and psychotic.

Music—as with the first one—for this reviewer is okay, but hardly the best element. It does do its job though. The credit teaser for this one is short and unsubtle. You’ll not be guessing what it’s about this time.

Whedon has delivered again. Any criticism of repeat set pieces, or the fact that as more films serve to choke the narrative it’s getting cumbersome to make it work, are undone by an excellent script and impressive sense of timing. I am very curious, considering Infinity War is going to be further burdened with even more info, how the Russo brothers fair with an Avengers film or two. Whedon leaves them in good order.

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments.
Runtime:
141 mins
Director
: Joss Whedon
Writer: Joss Whedon
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
Genre
: Music | Documentary
Tagline:
A new age begins
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'm gonna show you something beautiful... people, screaming for mercy!."
Distributor:
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Official Site: http://marvel.com/avengers
Release Date:
May 1, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 2, 2015
Synopsis: When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth's Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to The Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for a global adventure.

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Movie Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - October 2, 2015
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Disney's Blu-ray/3D Blu-ray/Digital release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron definitely continues Marvel's bar of excellent HD releases. Full of crisp details and fabulous colors, the 1080p transfer is ripe with texture and flavor. Overflowing is a more accurate description of what is visually found on each of the three discs. Black levels are solid and shadow depth is good. Pay close attention to just how realistic Hulk looks; his green skin is virtually flawless. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix is an otherworldly experience with bass levels roaring through the woofer with a dynamic LFE force that could propel you upwards. Immersive and expanding, it's a track that is never lifeless.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • You seriously HAVE TO listen to Whedon’s commentary.  He says a lot of interesting things and, since he is being completely honest with you the viewer/listener, talks about what he would do differently if he had had more time.  He’s upfront and frank and speaks from the heart in this commentary.  By far, this is the highlight of the release.

Special Features:

This is a release to spend some time with.  It begins with a 20-minute making-of feature highlighting the challenges and ideas of shooting the film.  There’s also a nice 7-minute featurette about the Infinity Stones and how they pertain to the MCU films.  This is followed by a featurette about Age of Ultron‘s massive location, a gag reel and deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary by Joss Whedon rounds out the collection.

  • From the Inside Out - Making of Avengers: Age of Ultron (20 min)
  • The Infinite Six (7 min)
  • Global Adventure (3 min)
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (12 min)
  • Gag Reel (4 min)

 

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