Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Despite the superstar returning cast and a battery of the finest special effects money can buy, this sequel to 2012’s smash hit is less than the sum of its parts. This time around, the battle scenes are more akin to Michael Bay’s “Transformers” series than director-screenwriter Joss Whedon’s usual oeuvre: The camera work is frenetic and distracting, never settling on one thing for too long to the point where it’s often difficult to ascertain exactly what’s going on and who’s fighting who. Additionally, at this point, it’s rather dull to watch the Avengers fighting with CGI-propelled robots who exhibit no personality or possess any distinctive visual marks, meaning that the underwhelming climax feels unnecessarily protracted. There’s also the issue of Ultron himself, voiced as he is by James Spader like he’s in a sitcom, carrying no menace or sense of foreboding as he unleashes a poorly explained and executed plot to take over the world and resulting in one of Marvel’s most forgettable villains. Luckily, new series additions Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson bring a spark of renewed inspiration to the proceedings, with Olsen in particular acclimatizing herself well to the CGI spectacle and bringing stinging humanity to the proceedings. With such a charismatic cast and well-established dynamics among the group, there are many scenes that are compelling along the way, but the plot that holds the movie together holds it back from Marvel greatness, settling for a mostly-ho hum, occasionally thrilling spectacle of sound and fury mostly signifying nothing as viewers patiently wait for the oft-promised showdown with Thanos in the next installment.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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