Saturday, May 2, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron - Movie Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron is the sequel to Joss Whedon's blockbuster hit The Avengers and continues the adventures of characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and Black Widow who are all a part of Disney Studio's Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlet Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L Jackson, Elizabeth Olson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, James Spader, Don Cheadle, Anthony Mackie, Paul Bettany, and Cobie Smulders.

The Story:
After several failed missions, "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" have finally recovered the powerful scepter that was used by Loki to start a was between humans and an alien army. When Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (Downey and Rufallo) try to unlock it's secrets, they inadvertently awaken an artificial intelligence who assimilates a program called Ultron that Stark had been developing to protect the planet. Unfortunately things go bad when Ultron (voiced by James Spader) decides the human race is the biggest threat to the planet and begins making plans to exterminate mankind and cleanse the world. Of course, the Avengers don't like this idea and do everything they can to try and stop him.

The Review:
When The Avengers came out in 2012, it quite literally changed how we perceive movies and how they are made. Bringing a group of established franchises together was a true turning point in what film makers could conceivable put on screen for our enjoyment. The reason I bring this up is because the type of emotion and reaction that comes along with something like that is a very rare achievement that is nearly impossible to duplicate once the precedent has been established. That being said, Avengers: Age of Ultron, while not reaching such lofty heights as its predecessor, should still be considered a spectacular and amazing cinematic achievement.

Joss Whedon is a really good director and does another fine job in balancing out a ton of characters and raising the stakes when it comes to the action all while still telling a very compelling story. Sure, a movie this grand in scale is a collaborative effort that includes literally hundreds of people, but this is still clearly a Joss Whedon movie as evidenced by just how much fun it is to watch. There's a really great balance between moments of character interaction and mind blowing action scenes, again with an emphasis on fun which is what Marvel movies are all about. While the special effects are really cool, the key to what makes this movie so good is the amazing cast who are not only some of the biggest box office draws in the business, they are also very good at what they do.

Whedon and cast throw pretty much everything they have into the film including some classic comedy like running gags ("language!") and witty banter, intimate moments of awkward flirtation, character driven drama, and even a few heart wrenching scenes focusing on loss and mortality. All of these elements fit together seamlessly thanks to the combination of Whedon's ability as a director to work with so many different characters and story elements and a cast who can make the most of every moment they have on screen. As fans of the Marvel movies, we each have our own personal favorite actors and characters whether it's the super cool Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark, the super hunk Chris Hemsworth as Thor, or the super everything Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, I believe everyone will walk away happy with what we get from each of them. Even newcomers like Elizabeth Olson and James Spader do a great job of integrating themselves into the cast and their characters, Scarlett Witch and Ultron respectively, quickly become essential pieces of the story.

Going back to the action and special effects of this movie, I would have to say I was also very impressed with the work put in by the hundreds or people who create this type of movie magic. First and foremost this is a super hero movie jam packed with people, creatures, and robots who can all do amazing things and tend to do them while fighting each other and the creators Marvel movies do this better than anyone else. Sure, there are some scenes that might have a bit more of a video game feel to them than the grit and reality of the world we live in, but seriously, who cares, this movie is all about spectacle and moments that get the audience cheering and clapping. That being said, I still never felt like any of the action was too over the top and it was all contained within the story itself. There was never anything that I felt was just there to be gratuitous or to say "Look what we can do!".

The Verdict:
Avengers: Age of Ultron is an amazing movie that will break box office records and will go down in history as one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. It is also a really, really good movie that anyone can enjoy no matter what age or level of involvement with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I saw the movie twice on back to back nights and actually enjoyed it even more the second time around. There is so much to see, hear, and experience, you definitely need more than one viewing to take it all in. This movie will definitely be a contender as one of my favorite movies of the year.

Bonus Theater Comparison:
As I am typing this review, I have watched the movie two times, once at the Cinerama in downtown Seattle and again at the Pacific Science Center's Boeing IMAX theater and I can guarantee you will not find any other theater around offering an experience that would come even close to what either of these places have to offer.

The Cinerama, which was remodeled a few months ago, features 2D presentation using a state of the art 4K laser projector by Christie and a custom built sound system by Dolby Atmos. The image was crystal clear and the sound was absolutely flawless. You could hear every bird chirping in the background and the theater literally shook during the big action scenes.

The Boeing IMAX theater, which just reopened after an extensive remodel, features 3D IMAX presentation using a brand new 4K IMAX laser projector by Christie and a custom built IMAX sound system. With the exception of the larger IMAX screen, the sights and sounds were very comparable to what I experienced at the Cinerama, the added 3D really didn't have much of an impact although that's mainly because the movie was post converted and not filmed using either IMAX or 3D cameras.

Click Here to see a more extensive theater comparison which may help you to decide where you should see Avengers: Age of Ultron.


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