I did come into this movie with high expectations, yet I'm still thoroughly satisfied. It's not as memorable and earth-shattering as The Avengers was, but for a sequel that has to do justice for half a dozen heroes, with amazing character moments & action, upping the stakes with a powerful foe, is already an achievement of its own. Mostly, the movie is very entertaining in action & in humour, with some standout characters and some brilliant moments that made it just a bit more special.
There was no shortage of very exciting action sequences from start to end, but they weren't all too memorable or breathtaking. In fact, it's easy to get lost in the madness & excitement of the action that you're only feeling the thrill of it. One of my favourite moments in this respect is the first encounter with Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) - the situation was quiet-ish, and his display of power was just brilliant, and a great introduction to a new "enhanced" character. Apart from these rare quieter moments, we're mostly just lost in the thrill of the ride.
The usual Marvel formula - playing out lots of humour in the midst of all the action - works brilliantly as always, with some typically catchy one-liners. There is some drama within, but not necessarily the sad kind. In fact, there's more of character conflicts - and it really is character-centric - like Tony Stark's motivation in creating Ultron, as well as conflicts within the team, etc.
Even the plot is excellent as well, and the hunt for Ultron flows naturally. While he could, he doesn't appear everywhere, because he doesn't really have to (hear that, Furious 7?). Every action sequence has its purpose, and each character have their own agendas, so its not purely all good vs evil. The story is thought out well, and there's a progress in the story with all these characters (and yes, I'm already sensing the roots of Civil War and Ragnarok within the film itself).
I did mention some standout character, didn't I? Well, I have three, in this film. The first is hawkeye, who has more of his background explored, and is cool and funny throughout. The second is the Vision, who has been really under wraps until the film. But believe me when I say that he looks awesome, and is awesome.
The last shouldn't be a surprise - Ultron! I was slightly disappointed that, in battle, he never really looked all too menacing. He didn't have a badass moment with his powers (like the Winter Soldier did). But apart from that, he was amazing. Not your typical robot, he was so full of emotions - he can get angry, he has humour & sarcasm, he can sing, and other times he's just insane. He kind of represents Stark's darkest personalities. Maybe it's my love for comics and for the character, but sometime I feel like I understand his character - with all that conflicts of information & complication in his head - he just wants to rid the world of the biggest source of problems. And yes, I have to credit James Spader for a wonderful hypnotic voice. My favourite moment, was when he crushes his previous form with his upgraded form while giving a speech. Badass, and insane!!
It may not be as memorable as the record-shattering The Avengers, but Age of Ultron brings back our favourite heroes in an awesome showdown against an insane & powerful foe, while introducing new characters, bringing some amazing character moments, and pushing the story forward for Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe