Obviously, Marvel Studios has been on a high streak recently, with top-notch comic book films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, and with Captain America: Civil War on the horizon, you betcha I was excited to see how this film would shape up.
Whedon knows how to create interesting group dynamics while also fleshing out individual characters, and that's as evident as ever here. The back-and-forth between characters is just as effective here as it is in the first Avengers film, and it gets even more interesting when they throw the Maximoff twins and the Vision (Paul Bettany) into the mix.
The action set pieces are what you already expect from Marvel; a lot of laughs and very fun sequences that look like they're pulled straight of the comic. Whedon's strength at keeping action sequences that have way too many things going on focused is also evident here.
Throughout the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you never really got the sense that these heroes' failures would prove catastrophic... until Ultron. The film highlights every civilian they have to save/fail to save, the effect of every decision, and life after heroism, after acting as protectors. I like those themes they brought up in the film.
The film is far from perfect, however. Pacing is an aspect of the film that I thought would've improved in the sequel, but it didn't, it's worse actually. There might've been less of a clunky first act in this film (they hit the ground running), but the film made me feel like they were rushing through highlights. There's so many things going on, plotwise, and the film tackles all of it. It's not like The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where most sub-plots were inserted solely as set-up. It's more off the film biting off more than it can chew, and as a result, they happen to rush through a lot of scenes. The build-up is faulty as well, things just happen because plot convenience. They make sense, sure, but build-up would've made the execution a whole lot smoother. Also, it would've had a greater impact had there been proper build-up. I admire the first Avengers film for its simplicity. They brought in just the right amount and gave time for things to sink in. I didn't feel that smooth flow in this film.
As I said, the individual character work was really well done in this movie, and I like the theme they brought up, but I felt that the story never came around full circle, thematically speaking. The final moments of the film happen pretty quickly, and they don't reall tie up the main theme of the movie. It's just sorta left there hanging. It's partially the fault of the how they ended the film, tonally. It would've worked better had they addressed it with the complete opposite of the tone they actually used.