Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron Moves Almost Faster Than Quicksilver

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Marvel Avengers Age of Ultron Blu-ray Digital Critical Blast

I'm probably the only person in the world who sat down to watch the Blu-ray release of MARVEL'S AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON who had, in fact, not seen the movie in theaters (or, indeed, at all). But I was excited! All that hype, all that action, all those heroes!

And it certainly delivered the spectacle. The dialogue was spot-on for the banter I would expect from this team, the visual effects were stunning, the choreographed fight scenes were amazing.

But (and there it is, the collective gasp of fanboys everywere)...didn't it all happen kind of fast? When the team collects the Mind Gem from Baron Strucker (a battle we join in media res when the film opens), it takes mere moments for Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to analyze it and find out there was an artificial intelligence in it greater than his own creation, Jarvis? And once awakened, shortly after Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) walk out of the lab, it doesn't take long for Ultron to emerge, forge a body, and conclude the Avengers need to be taken out and mankind be assist.ed to extinction. They track Ultron's escape, learns he has Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) on his side, and almost win until the Witch zaps them all into separate illusions. But even knowing they're illusions, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) still believes his vision contained a hidden message, so he's off to Asgard to find out things that he'll tell us later at a critical juncture -- that's not (literally) deus ex machina at all.

So, yeah, things moved pretty fast.

And yet (Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes. -- Wordsworth), this is exactly the kind of storytelling that I lament having lost in the source of these kinds of movies -- the comic books themselves. The comics used to have condensed storytelling mastered -- a cinematic adventure could play out in your head while only using fifteen to twenty minutes of real time. Now, a two hour movie is the condensation of a multi-issue epic arc. So while I was taken back by it, I also liked it. Plus, there was plenty more to like in the film -- the home life of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and how Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) plays into it; the friction that develops between Quicksilver and Hawkeye; the introduction of new Avengers we've met in other movies like War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie); the birth of the Vision (Paul Bettany); Captain America's (Chris Evans) charmingly anachronistic morality. The team good-naturedly ribbing Thor about his hammer, and all trying to prove they could pick it up. And, of course, James Spader's uniquely human touch in his portrayal of Ultron.

So, yes, there was plenty to like, and more. It's definitely re-watchable as an adventure film, I just don't know if, as a movie, it measures up to THE AVENGERS or CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER.

The Blu-ray / Digital release of MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is overflowing with bonus features. There's a featurette that goes beyond the story, explaining the power of the Infinity Gems that we've been seeing pop up throughout the series of Marvel films, and how Thanos is going to ultimately take the stage. There are two features, one nearly a half-hour long, that takes you behind the scenes and into the aspects of making this film. There are several bonus scenes and a gag reel. And, for the non-initiated among the audience, they're even kind enough to explain how the movies all connect with this bonus feature, "Connecting the Universe."

Marvel's films have been huge box office successes for a reason: they tell great stories on a larger than life stage. And while AGE OF ULTRON isn't the greatest of them, it's still head and shoulders above a majority of superhero-based theatrical releases.

MARVEL'S AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON releases on Blu-ray and DVD Friday, October 2, 2015.

4.0 / 5.0