Avengers: Age of Ultron, 4/8/17, 4.5 Stars.
There 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.