Avengers: Age of Ultron
2015
**½
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Stellan Skarsgård, James Spader, Samuel L. Jackson

The Avengers from three years ago seems like a distant memory. The story here picks up from the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. After the Avengers retrieve Loki’s sceptre, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner secretly experiment with the highly developed artificial intelligence they discover within its gem. Needless to say, it doesn’t end well. Ultron takes control, builds an army and sets out to destroy humanity in order to save the world. Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America all get their moment in the spotlight, Black Widow and Hawkeye are given meatier backstories, and Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch make their first appearances. The events depicted here have long-reaching repercussions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the movie itself is one of the more mechanical ones in the Marvel roster. Joss Whedon could have partly saved this with some first-rate set pieces, but his fastly edited CGI overload drains all the fun and credibility, not to mention gravity, out of the run-of-the-mill action scenes.