Plot: A crucial mission has brought the Avengers back together, as a mystical scepter once wielded by Loki has to be retrieved and returned to Asgard. The team heads to a Hydra base to reclaim the weapon, only to discover that Baron von Strucker has found some success with his experiments and the base is home to two enhanced humans, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The Avengers are able to complete their mission, but Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) isn’t keen to return the scepter in a rush, as he thinks it could power that he could harness. This is certain to cause conflict within the squad, but Stark is convinced the scepter could unlock the future, a powerful A.I. that can be deployed to protect mankind. But will Stark’s grand vision come back to haunt him and if so, can even the Avengers stand up to the threat?

Entertainment Value: The second phase of Marvel’s cinematic universe would give us two of the franchise’s most fun movies in Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, but the epic team-up in this phase is a bust. I would rank Age of Ultron as one of the dullest and least memorable movies in the entire Marvel run, a bloated, boring mess that fails to capture even a fraction of the magic of these legendary comic book characters. And the movie has no excuse, as the budget was massive, the cast is stacked, and a wealth of interesting Marvel heroes are on tap, but somehow this just feels like a bland action movie, rather than an epic superhero adventure. The narrative is forgettable, the action scenes are basic, and the villain offers minimal threat. I know Marvel is built on low stakes, bad jokes, and even worse CGI, but Age of Ultron feels especially rushed and slapped together, which is a shame. I did like the introduction of Scarlet Witch, but otherwise this just feels like a weak installment, especially given how good some of the other third phase movies are. I had rock bottom expectations based on the first Avengers movie, but Age of Ultron failed to live up to even those minor hopes, delivering perhaps the most forgettable superhero movie ever.

The blame can’t be placed on the cast or a lack of popular characters, as the movie has both in spades. I do think the abundance of characters causes some issues, as there’s not enough depth in the material to make all of their presences deliver great development or even moments to shine. This is likely why the narrative around Ultron is so bland basic, as the heroes were seen as more worthy of the development focus, leaving us with a generic villain arc. The new characters are more or less rushed, but I do think Scarlet Witch is given a proper introduction. The cast does what it always does in this series, with Robert Downey, Jr. hitting the best performance as Stark, though he seems to be going through the motions here. I can’t blame him however, as the material is so bland here, even he can only do so much. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth continue their basic, forgettable turns as Captain America and Thor, while Mark Ruffalo and Scarlet Johansson are passable, given the lackluster script. Elizabeth Olson is a bright spot, doing a lot with what little she is given and since the rest of the movie is mostly dull, any bright spot is welcome here.

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