Age of Ultron has gigantic, sprawling, and absolutely insane moments. It has creativity that other big-budget blockbusters can only dream of.
Actually, that might not be a bad idea. The film might be at its best, or at least its most surprising and memorable, not when it focuses on the spectacle of its CGI-filled action scenes - which, I'll point out, are often great fun - but when it tries to humanize its superheroes. When they sit on a couch and all try to lift Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) hammer, it's hilarious. The standout in this regard is Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), which will surprise almost everyone reading this. He gets more depth than anyone would have assumed going in, which is used cleverly in a scene near the end that comes about as close as the MCU will to breaking the fourth wall. "Didn't see that one coming, did you?" Well, no, movie. Good job. The focus on the Avengers acting like real heroes by putting a real emphasis on saving civilians is effective, too.
But let's get back to those action scenes, which is what the audience is here for. You want to see these superheroes use their powers or equipment to fight with each other or a bunch of faceless enemies. That's the whole point, more often than not. Age of Ultron has gigantic, sprawling, and absolutely insane moments. It has creativity that other big-budget blockbusters can only dream of. It's never boring, either, in large part because it's so packed full of things. Some franchises split installments in two because that'll make more money - and the next Avengers chapter will do the same - but Age of Ultron feels like two films wedged into one. There are only rare moments to breathe, and so many characters and events to keep track of - many of them, yes, setting the stage for future chapters.
Does it have problems? Sure, but it's a rare film that doesn't. Ultron ultimately doesn't make for the most menacing villain, which is too bad. He's lots of fun, and James Spader's voice work is tremendous, but when someone tallies it all up, he'll be regarded as a rather weak villain - a placeholder as we await the arrival of the bigger threat. The climax is also similar to that of the first Avengers movie, only with the aforementioned focus on civilian lives. Some of the jokes are cornier than in earlier films, which makes it feel childish at times. But these are minor issues. It's so easy to enjoy Avengers: Age of Ultron from start to finish.
While not necessarily "over" the MCU, I find myself growing less excited for each new installment - until the film hits, of course, where I more often than not wind up smiling from start to finish, laughing at the jokes, and being put in a state of awe thanks to the big, special effects-driven action scenes. The magic of Disney is alive and well, and it has permeated the MCU and ensures that each new outing is a fun time. Avengers: Age of Ultron continues that trend by delivering an incredibly enjoyable movie that's stuffed to the brim with content and delivers highly entertaining action scenes, fun characters, snappy dialogue, and a great time at the movies. Does it live up to the first film? Maybe not, if only because it's not as fresh. That doesn't stop it from being a must-see for MCU fans.
Bottom Line: MCU fans are going to see it anyway, but they'll be in for a fun time at the movies thanks to its action, humor, and surprising depth.
Recommendation: Unless you vehemently dislike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Age of Ultron is worth seeing.
If you want more of Matthew "Marter" Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.