Avengers: Age of Ultron
The artistry in Joss Whedon's Avengers: Age of Ultron is truly impressive even as the franchise's evolving story of interplanetary / interdimensional alien invasion gets compressed into chaotic, muscular battles joined by the ligaments of running gags and witty banter. The superior first installment (The Avengers, 2012) introduced the ragtag band of heroic misfits -- Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), David Banner / The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) -- led by the one-eyed chief of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). That story merged science and magic in the person of rogue Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who was hellbent on world domination. Age of Ultron grounds its story squarely in the digital world and introduces a new nemesis, a quipping artificial intelligence (voiced by James Spader) hellbent on creating peace on earth by exterminating human life. Ultron is joined, for a while, by a curious set of Slavic mutant twins (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olson) and a horde of flying cyborgs. Yes, it's a loud, crowded party with a multitude of your closest friends and is best enjoyed as such. If you want depth and reflection go see Ex Machina.