(it) wrote: 4/8/17There are no strings on this review, which is why I will write my mind. We begin with the Avengers assembling for a raid, the last in a string of several between Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and this movie (Guardians of the Galaxy takes place on the other side of the galaxy, so the only impact is the Infinity Stone thing). They jump right into the action, and after a successful victory, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) examine their finding: Loki's sceptor from the first Avengers movie. After using it to create Ultron (James Spader) who goes on to wreak havoc, they go to party with the other Avengers and other characters: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), various World War II vets I can guess are friends of Captain America, etc. After a light party game of "lift Thor's hammer if you can," the story really gets started with Ultron emerging, raging, and basically acting like every evil robot in every evil robot movie ever, with a twist of Jarvis (Paul Bettany). What follows is a global game of tracking Ultron and his two goons: Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson). There are no strings on them, but there were so many strings on Joss Whedon that he snapped. You can tell by how much foreshadowing they did for Phase 3: Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and of course, Avengers: Infinity War. It's like a test reel for Avengers: Infinity War with a bunch or references to the other stuff, and the groundwork for Civil War laid down too. The plot is coherent, but there are so many references to future MCU movies that they could have cut some and still made it work. However, they manage to keep the characters in good order, and Ultron is actually a better villain than others give him credit for: his mind is childlike, he's exposed to too much, and as a result, wants to simplify things. And he plans to do so with a complex plan to wipe out humanity. The visuals of that plan are stunning, not quite topping the Battle of New York from the first movie, but still looking cool. What also comes close to as good is Bryan Tyler and Danny Elfman's soundtrack, which conveys all the appropriate emotions and is used appropriately. And finally, despite the abysmal situation, the humor works well, and the foul language is minimal, and funny when Cap scalds Iron Man for it, and it returns to haunt him here and there. So ultimately, Avengers: Age of Ultron ultimately marks the beginning of the end of the Age of the MCU as we knew it. Let there be no strings on them from here on out.4/23/16There are no strings on this. As Marvel reaches the end of Phase 2, they make the Iron Man 2 of said phase (For those not in the loop, Iron Man 2 was the Iron Man sequel crammed with Avengers references but is just barely better than The Incredible Hulk and Thor: The Dark World, because Marvel is the Pixar of superhero studios: even their worst is watchable and enjoyable). What they did here was foreshadow Phase 3 maybe a little too much, especially with Thor going to some Asgardian well to understand a dream that all but screams "Ragnarok/Infinity War tease." All that aside, we open by jumping right into the action, the Avengers are already assembled: Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow (Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, and Scarlett Johansson) raid the last of a series of Hydra bases, this one headed by Wolfgang Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), who has added human experimentation to his list of crimes. It ends with Hawkeye getting injured, and Iron Man retrieving Loki's scepter (from the first movie), but not before the twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) sabotage them, and Wanda gives Iron Man a nightmare that screams "Infinity War foreshadowing" the same way that "Avengers initiative" screamed "The Avengers" in Iron Man 2. Before I continue, what makes this better than Iron Man 2 is that the rest of the plot is cohesive, and there's more action than Iron Man 2, so no more comparisons. Anyway, Iron Man calls in Dr. Cho (Claudia Kim) from Seoul, and between scepter study and Hawkeye healing, Tony and Bruce (Remember, the aforementioned names are code names. Except Thor. That's his actual name, last name Odinson) create a new AI from the "neural activity" of the infin... I mean, scepter stone, and while the Avengers party with everyone from Stark Industries employees like Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to random World War II vets (including a cameo from the legendary Stan Lee), to friends of the Avengers like Rhodey (Don Cheadle) and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), their new AI "Ultron" (James Spader) offs Jarvis (Paul Bettany), and then rudely interrupts an after party of the Avengers trying to lift Mjolnir, and ultimately sets out on world domination. What follows is a globe-trotting, metal-kicking, all-around sandbox of Marvel Cinematic past, present and future. It's all coherent in the long run, and sets up payoffs for Phase Three (Like Andy Serkis' Ulysses Klaw for the Black Panther movie), and all culminates in a spectacular, Earth-shattering finale. The picture is truly cinematic: while the wider aspect ratio worked for The Avengers, but 2.35:1 makes for a wider picture than a bigger one (considering they widened the scope of the Earthbound Marvel Cinematic Universe like they did in Iron Man 2). Alan Silvestri's theme is used here and there, but the dynamic d... I mean, pairing of Brian Tyler and Danny Elfman bring a score that reflects the depth of the story (Maybe the story is a little too deep for its own good) and delivers everywhere it should. Now here's the thing about the characters: you've got the first team back, whom we already care about, with new additions we can get invested in except for Pietro, who brings a sort of lightness to a dark situation, but doesn't do anything significant (that I can mention without spoilers). Wanda seems more like a character I could invest in, and the Vision (also played by Paul Bettany) seems like a worthy choice for what they did. Ultron is not lame, but he's not the super-threat he could have been beyond his scheme: Disney XD ran an Avengers show from 2010-2012, and they handled Ultron much better (and had us actually see him do good before going psychotic), and that was Disney XD. Not saying James Spader did a bad job, and not going to penalize it for going a different route and having him be "born" confused, but the story could have done a better job of portraying a good AI gone bad. Age of Ultron may have taken a dark turn (both in the story, and in the fact they crammed it full of Phase 3 references like... you know what I mean. If this is the Iron Man 2 of Phase 2, then I must say it shows Marvel's improved and continues to improve), but the humor is still there, and thankfully, it doesn't come in (language!)loads in doses.5/2/15There are no strings impeding this film! Earth's mightiest reunite to be heroes on the big screen in a new age. After raiding Hydra bases across the globe, we find our heroes in the nation of Sokavia, where they encounter Wolfgang Von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) who we met in the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with the twins Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olson) and Quiksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) AKA the Maximoff twins, who also come in as first henchmen of Ultron (James Spader). Knowing this, the plot picks up immediately after the opening Marvel logo, with a chase scene, like the first film did, but this time, it's Hydra being chased by none other than The Avengers (Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Mark Ruffallo as the Hulk, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye) instead of SHIELD chasing Loki. It is an exciting start to an exciting movie, improving where the first movie failed. Instead of the slow build-up which worked in the first one, it is appropriate to start with the team assembled and kicking a- butt. I totally meant to say butt from the beginning, a butt. There are no real plot holes like the first's "How did Loki come back?" or "Why is Loki being brought onto the helicarrier, and assembling the only people who can take him down?" It is simply "We're a team, the villain has his plan, one which only we, together can solve!" It is swift and effective. Plain and simple. If I explain the plot any further, I may create spoilers by accident, and SHIELD will be on me again, so up next to the characters. We loved the original roster previously mentioned, but the acting is as spot-on as ever, both in the old cast that also brings back Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and others from other movies that remain unnamed so SHIELD doesn't redact me twice. Everything we love about the original team is there, with new elements added to develop them further. Joining the old team is the twins, because of their comic book source's nature that would be spoilery, and a new creation, The Vision (Paul Bettany). I want to note that American actors did a great job with Eastern European accents, and Paul Bettany is capable of being both the AI intelligence, and Ultron's vision for the perfect life-form (According to the comics and TV show The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes). The visuals are amazing, starting with the opening invasion of Hydra, to the ending battle that makes the Battle of New York look like vandalism, not a spoiler, just pointing out a difference. The CGI is as heavy as Ultron's evil plan, but it works: Ultron looks as photorealistically believable as Caesar from Rise of and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Gollum from Lord of the Rings did. but the Vision still surpasses his creator on that because it was actually Paul Bettany in a full outfit, not a motion-capture suit or recording booth. All the Marvel references were there for a reason: To set up Phase Three. We all know Infinity War is coming, and more info is given. What was overused in Iron Man 2 was used just right in Avengers 2: We got a full spoon instead of a tablespoon or teaspoon when it came to us. On the soundtrack, I was psyched when Brian Tyler was announced to be doing it like he did in Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World in 2013, and I was right to be: He assembled (No pun intended) the Avengers scores heard in his two films, and the previous Avengers. There's still some originality, and I do not know what Danny Elfman brought to the table, but I know to trust the pieces would fit: And they did. Marvel has once again assembled the right people for this movie, which came out very well done all around. So well, I cannot complain. Marvel has truly gone from puppets tangled in strings to free! Avengers, see you in 2018 for the beginning of your next adventure!