Avengers: Age of Ultron ★★★½

"Humans are odd. They believe that order and chaos are somehow opposites, and try to control what won't be. But there is grace in their failings. I think you missed that."

And even though this movie falters in several key areas, there is grace in those failings. AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is frustrating, because it's playing with ideas and character beats that are both bigger and grander and more personal than any in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. If it had been allowed to fulfill its potential and not succumbed to interference from the Creative Committee, it could very well have been the MCU's crowning achievement. Alas, the great beats set up in the first two acts are eventually cast aside to force a punch-up recreation of the first AVENGERS' climax with a more comic-booky twist, and the birth of the Vision, while introducing a great character and more interesting ideas, is so shoddily set up and justified within the narrative as to essentially render the central conflict and Tony's arc in the film completely toothless. Nevertheless, there is a lot to love here. Just go in with the right expectations. Marvel had some awkward growing pains between the end of Phase 2 and the beginning of Phase 3, so now let's see how INFINITY WAR finally brings the threads set up here home.