After a daring raid, the Avengers recover Loki’s scepter intending to return it safely to Asgard. Tony Stark asks for a few days to study it before it’s taken from Earth forever. He discovers an artificial intelligence hidden inside and attempts to create an all-powerful peace-keeping entity. He quickly loses control and Ultron is unleashed.
2015, Color, Not rated, 2 Hrs 21 mins
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, 2.39:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo
Directed by Joss Whedon
The Avengers disagree on the best course of action as Ultron hatches a plot to destroy all mankind in a quest for rapid evolution. His power grows as he obtains a huge cache of Vibranium, the hardest metal on Earth. He uses it to build a bomb big enough to destroy all life on the planet. In the final showdown, the Avengers have no choice but to work together to prevent an unspeakable cataclysm.
I’ve always been a fan of Joss Whedon’s work ever since the Buffy series and the short-lived Firefly. His directing chops are worthy of praise too as his second effort in the Avengers franchise definitely improves upon the first. Not only is each character completely unique, the dialog is peppered with terrific one-liners and witty exchanges that make this film enjoyable on many levels.
Action-seekers will have nothing to complain about as the plot rarely takes a breath. You won’t be able to take a bathroom break without pressing the pause button first. And after dozens and dozens of super-hero flicks, Whedon manages to make the material and the characters seem completely fresh. Even though we’ve seen everyone except the villain before, you get new insights into our heroes that you weren’t expecting.
The plot is typical comic-book/blockbuster-film fare but it’s dressed up by one of the most irreverent protagonists ever. Ultron is masterfully played by James Spader and his informal delivery and thankfully-low amount of monologuing is a breath of fresh air from the pompous over-the-top types we’re used to seeing.
This is a Blu-ray I’ll be watching again and again and if you’re even a casual fan of movies like this, it should be added to your library. It receives my highest recommendation.
The image is perfect in most respects. Detail, contrast and motion are all at the reference level. Color is also well-saturated and employs a mostly-natural palette. My reason for the four-star rating is twofold. First there are many dark scenes that are just too murky. You have to look hard to see the details even when watching on a bright display. Second, there is a somewhat filtered look to most of the material. Most movies add warmth or coolness by subtle manipulation of the color palette. In Age of Ultron, it looks more like a filter was placed over the camera lens. This flattens the picture out a little and goes a bit too far towards the monochromatic. Overall it just didn’t jump off the screen the way I expected.
The audio mix is also excellent in terms of detail and frequency range but I was surprised at the lack of dynamic range. Often times I have to turn down the volume for films like this but I upped the dial quite a bit and still never found any real punch. You can’t go too far because dialog can become chesty. I certainly enjoyed the deep tight bass and large surround envelope. But the mix is just too polite given the material. I docked one star for its lack of aggression.
Bonus features include a making-of documentary, a short about powerful objects in the Marvel universe, information on the locations used to shoot the film, deleted scenes, a gag reel and audio commentary with director Joss Whedon.