- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes find themselves battling a nearly unstoppable cybernetic organism and its minions in this summer’s bombastic blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, rated PG-13, $32.99).

Its landing on the Blu-ray format allows fans of the Marvel Comics-based team to appreciate the live-action work of some classic heroes such as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and new to the franchise Scarlett Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) over and over again.

A plot touching upon god complexes, redemption and the meaning of humanity often plods and drags in despair across the globe as the Avengers’ attempt to stop Ultron.

Now add in action scenes that are so visually complex, it will cause crossed eyes and the sometimes too-forced humor. It can’t compare to the fun, original “Avengers” film, but it certainly has moments to love over its near 2.5-hour length.

Most memorable were Iron Man donning the Hulkbuster armor to challenge an enraged Green Goliath in Johannesburg, the quirky voice-over work of James Spader as Ultron, a machismo-enriched scene surrounding Thor’s hammer and the stunning debut of the Vision android.

Despite my gripes, the digital transfer shines on the bigger the television the better, with size lending itself to appreciate the overwhelming enormity of those too-large battle scenes.

A booming soundtrack arrives via a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix to literally shake the walls of viewers’ homes using a compatible sound system in their entertainment rooms.

Extras are suspiciously light and making it seem very likely that an extended cut of the film is in the future loaded up with even better bonus content.

However, the best of the bunch includes director Joss Whedon’s optional commentary track as he reminds us upfront that “if you like the sound of me babbling, you are in for a treat.”

He’s very quiet and almost somber in his delivery as he takes full responsibility for all facets of the movie while touching on costs, special effects, frustrations, the development of the characters, comparisons to the comics and tweaks to the story.

Mr. Whedon gets very specific on the role of Tony Stark as an unintentional villain of the film, the Hulkified destruction of a city suggesting shades of 9/11, Ultron as really being Frankenstein’s monster and reminding viewers that he is not planning to return to the Marvel movie universe.

Next, as a card-carrying comic book geek, I also enjoyed a too-quick, 7-minute look at the origins of powerful Infinity gems (tied to the famous 1991 Marvel Comics series) and how the Marvel films are setting up audiences to the Avenger’s “Infinity War” movie.

Finally, a small collection of unimportant deleted scenes and a featurette that is way too promotional round out the bonus content.

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