Not only does the film have to introduce a brand-new villain (something The Avengers didn’t have to spend time on) and three new supporting characters (with vastly different origins than their comic counterparts), and weave in ongoing events from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. while providing separate in-depth character moments for every single Avenger, Age of Ultron also has to lay the groundwork for the next two Avengers films, Captain America: Civil War, and Thor: Ragnarok. While also throwing in supporting characters from pretty much every Marvel film so far it’s something of a marvel, if you’ll forgive the pun, that Avengers: Age of Ultron doesn’t buckle under its own considerable weight.
Seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier in the theaters my initial reaction was that the Captain America: The First Avenger sequel was an improvement over the first film and one of Marvel Studio’s best efforts. I’m happy to say the movie holds up on Blu-ray. I actually enjoyed it a little more the second time around.
The wide sweeping conspiracy of Hyrda begins sweeping changes in the overall Marvel Universe, immediately effecting Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (leading to the TV show’s strongest episodes), but more than that The Winter Soldier is a good Captain America story full of strong performances (making great use of Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow) along with plenty of intrigue and action. Sure the movie wastes Sharon Carter (Emily VanCamp) and the final battle feels a bit too much like a video game with infiltrating and swapping out the chips in hovercrafts of death, but those don’t detract from a strong storyline filled with plenty of comic book goodness. For more on the movie read my original review.
We’ve hit the halfway point of the year and, as has become the custom, that means it’s time to look back on the best movies of the year so far. This year’s list includes three animated films, two sequels, the return of a beloved television character, a latest (and in one case the last) from few big name directors, and a pair of small indie films topping the list of what has been a pretty damn good first-half of the year at the movies.