Comics, Movies, Video Games, and More

"Making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

~Ephesians 5:16

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Our Own Worst Enemy: Overcoming and Avoiding Spiritual Emptiness

Not everyone is going to like you. You could be the nicest, kindest person in class or at work, but there will still be at least one person who won't appreciate you. If you make it apparent for example that you're a Christian some may take offense to that. Some simply take offense at seeing the Cross. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by opposition when you just want to stand firm and make peace at the same time.

Still, while it can be overwhelming dealing with others, often it's ourselves that prove the most threatening.

Many Christians wonder if they've committed some sin that God will not forgive. Some passages like this one make apparent that there is a sin He won't forgive, "...but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven." Many after doing something which sounds like that, (cursing God, denying or rejecting Christ/the Holy Spirit, attributing Him to evil) think that they "lost their salvation." And what is a worst feeling than that? In the last month I've been dealing with a lot of bad thoughts regarding my Christian faith. Many occurrences I thought God had given up on me. But, it took some time to realize that can never happen.

You see, the reason why Jesus says a person will not be forgiven is because overtime a person after so violently opposes God's free gift, the Holy Spirit will stop convicting them. It's not because God rejects them, but because they've made it their personal decision to harden their heart, never once receiving Christ. Did you catch that? If you've already accepted the gift, you've "passed from death to life." And Jesus is the one who holds you in His hand. This means that no matter how bad one gets, salvation can't be lost. Think back, almost every believer has a salvation day. (Maybe you grew up in a Christian home but never actually personally gave your life to Christ, then there's a good chance you aren't saved, so say that prayer now!) At that moment in time you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, "a guaranteed inheritance." Nowhere does it say we ourselves can break that seal...and how could we? It's the seal of God. Look at it like this: Jesus died on the cross for everyone. Our condition then is to "Believe on it" and receive the gift. This gift is "irrevocable" for the truly born again.

This is why sermons and Christian friends make it apparent to others to ask Christ to become their savior now, because it can be too late tomorrow.

Alright, so now that we've established that no born again Christian ever has to worry about losing their Savior, we can then look at ways to overcome and avoid spiritual emptiness when it comes, because it comes to everybody. Too often we become our own enemy when neglecting these things.

   Adequate Sleep, Diet, and Exercise.

These are somethings your nutritionist will tell you, but I don't think many realize how vital these things are spiritually. For  example, I find when I get anything less than 6 hours rest I can't think properly the next day and end up being exhausted by the afternoon. When one can't think properly, they're easily influenced by outside forces. A proper diet is also basically the same thing. If you aren't eating well enough, it can leave you feeling weak and depressed. It's the same withe exercise. If you're like me and on the computer a lot, you need to make sure you're spending at least 15 minutes on the treadmill, riding your bike, or going for a walk.

Trust me, do these things well and you will yourself becoming stronger not only physically, but spiritually as well.

        Church & Bible Study groups!
It's important to obviously attend church services. Lately I've been finding myself not going Sunday mornings due to work and the rest of my family not being able to go. Because of this, a feeling of disconnection has surfaced. So, do your best to attend church consistently, or find an alternative. (For example, because I'm often not able to go on Sundays I can go to a Wednesday service at another church.)

Now, while church service is important, I don't think many would put youth or Bible study groups in the same league, which I think is unfortunate. Listening to the pastor is always fantastic, but there's something far more personal in groups. Friendships are made. The New Testament makes it clear that it's important to have fellowship with brothers & sisters in Christ. If you're a highschooler, get involved in the youth group. If you're a college student or young adult, get involved in the young adult group. Not all churches have groups for everyone, but if yours does, why not get involved?

                  Christian Music

Almost every highschooler to young adult has an iPod or iPhone. Movies and books are major mediums, but in today's day and age I think it's fair to say that music is probably the most popular form of media with the younger crowd. Many spend at least an hour a day listening to their favorite songs. Ask yourself: What am I listening to? Is it wholesome? Would I want the whole family to listen to it while riding in the car?

Awhile back at my youth group the pastor did a series on music and its impact. It was then that I realized many of the songs I was listening to had some not so great lyrics. These type of songs can creep up on us, because we like the beat so much that we don't realize what it's doing internally. Some songs can make us feel unnecessarily depressed, give us bad thoughts, etc.

Fill yourself with Christian music. Now, this doesn't mean every song has to be a traditional worship one. For example, while Casting Crowns is a fantastic band, many young people might find their more traditional type of singing rather "old school." A common misconception is that Christian music is usually emotional in tone or overly preachy. Bands like Kutless and 33 Miles are examples that produces songs teens and college students can readily relate to. RED is another band which sadly many Christians don't know about. Give them a try, I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Continually filling yourself with Christian music will help fight off spiritual depression.

          Prayer & Reading the Bible

These two are obvious. Many of us neglect prayer, only doing it when we need something. It's the same with the Bible. It's always there, and we know we should read it, but don't since everything else is apparently more important. I was like this for many years. After becoming saved, I should have been growing spiritually, but I neglected two of the most important things in sanctification. I look back and wish I had done those two things consistently, because I would have been better prepared to deal with spiritual problems in the present. Nonetheless, it's never too late to start. Set aside Bible reading every night and the morning, same with prayer.

We become a threat to ourselves when we don't seek to grow spiritually. Look at it like this: Once we become saved we're citizens of Heaven. The war is already won. But we can still lose many, many battles here. We can lose joy and a sense of direction when we try to reject the Spirit Who lives within us. If we don't grow spiritually now, we won't be able to handle problems adequately, whether external or internal. Our minds become weak, and I can speak with clarity that it's hard to function with a weak mind.

So, continue to seek God. Remember, no matter what bad thing or thought you had five minutes or two weeks ago, it didn't change your status. Don't let that hinder you. Just because you don't feel like a Christian doesn't mean you're not. We become our own worst enemy by thinking up crazy things in our heads, believing them, and then trying to go forward on our own. Ask God for help, and He will. And then, put everything listed above into practice. For the born again, life never ends. So get back up, and start again today.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

GODZILLA: One Year Later

It's amazing when you stop and think about how things come together over the years. I remember when the first announcement came that Legendary Pictures had acquired the rights to Godzilla to produce a new American film. After the 1998 disaster, many were rightfully skeptical. Four years later it arrived and put to rest any worries. Despite personal preferences, most agreed it was a well-made film.

The Godzilla fanbase is passionate. It's much like Star Wars when if you engage someone whom has years of knowledge, prepare yourself for an extensive conversation. Unlike Star Wars however, prior to the new film Godzilla was more of a niche in the States. Many associated G with being cheesy, a joke, and nothing to be taken seriously. That's why fans such as myself were looking forward to this movie, because with a new, serious adaption, the monster could finally have much needed respect in America. That, and the fact it would be the first G film since Final Wars back in 2004.

I was a bit skeptical when it was confirmed that Gareth Edwards would be directing. He had previously directed the independent film MONSTERS. That movie upon first watching was disappointing because the marketing portrayed it as a big monster flick. The alien creatures have very little screen time. It's essentially a drama with a monster backdrop. In retrospect it's a quality film, but at the time it was easy to see why many were skeptical. The Japanese Godzilla films pride themselves for its monster destruction, so there was some fear that Edwards would do the something like he did with MONSTERS. Thankfully, by the time the end credits had rolled, most viewers were convinced that the big G was in good hands.

The first ever look we got of G, back in 2012
I remember when the first teaser came out, and only a select few were able to view it since it was Comic Con exclusive. Eventually it was leaked online and everyone in the world quickly absorbed it. It was quite ominous, presenting G as a rather horrific figure against the Oppenheimer "Destroyer of Worlds" audio. This is perhaps the most infamous thing about the movie. Almost all of the marketing portrayed G as a terrifying, relentless monster of destruction, much like the original 1954 film. The movie shocked me and many others when Godzilla emerged as a hero, with even the words, "King of the Monsters - savior of our city?" displayed near the ending. Many were disappointed that G wouldn't be returning to his horror roots, while others like myself enjoyed the portrayal. Personally, I find Godzilla's heroic days in the 60's/70's to be the most entertaining era of the Japanese films. Legendary's portrayal in my opinion was a perfect blend of the heroic Godzilla from that era and the destructive force seen in films like Return of Godzilla and GODZILLA 2000.

The design for G was kept under wraps for a very long time. Arguably, it was the most hyped aspect. When fully unveiled, no major complaints were had. Still, some didn't like the elephant-like feet, and how little his eyes were. Any complaints I personally had were rendered moot when he was in motion. Right when he entered the airport to battle the Muto the design quickly became one of my favorites.

Speaking of Muto, one of the most intriguing parts of marketing was its reluctance to showcase the antagonist monster. When the film finally arrived, viewers were treated to very unique and awesome creatures for G to do battle with. The fights in this movie to me were a bit more on the mixed side. When G first arrives to battle Muto, it looks like a grand battle was about to take place but instead it's reduced to being on the news for a few seconds. This was funny the first time around in the theater, but in subsequent viewings it's a disappointment. The second fight is also a tease. The climax is very exciting, but suffers a little from the fact that it cuts away to the soldiers too often. Still, it's hard to deny the greatness of such scenes like G using his tail to slap the male Muto into a building and the first time he uses his atomic blast. (Both scenes garnered great cheer from the audience in the theater.) While the climax could have been better, it nonetheless was one of the more thematic battles of 2014 and showed what a modern Godzilla brawl can look like.

Contrary to popular belief, there are many Godzilla movies with top notch acting performances. Films like MONSTER ZERO and Gojira have Oscar worthy portrayals. While the new film doesn't have any award winners, the cast is nonetheless solid. Many were dismayed when the film killed off Bryan Cranston's character Joe Brody early on, whom according to many was easily the best character. His son Ford took center stage from then on. Many said he was too dull, with little emotion. While I can agree, I think it's important to remember that could be his character as part of being military. Either way, I think if he comes back for the sequel he'll be better.

It's already been confirmed that we'll getting two sequels, one of which is coming in 2018. The awesome part is that Legendary has the rights to classic TOHO monsters Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah for use. It's an exciting time for G fans, and will continue to be so as other companies capitalize. (TOHO themselves will be releasing a brand new film in the Japanese series next year!)

One year later has gone by, and every Godzilla fan remembers it like it was yesterday. It is unfortunate that the film only made $528 million worldwide. That may sound like a lot, but Transformers: Age of Extinction from that same year and the new Fast and the Furious both have made over $1 billion. GODZILLA doesn't rely on mindless explosions, sexual appeal, or sarcastic wit to tell a story. But, modern American audiences want the three things just listed rather than a serious adventure, which is disappointing. This doesn't change the fact that G was still a hit and will remain engraved in film culture. Now a fan can go around asking others, "hey have you seen Godzilla?"and get into good conversations, even though they might not have seen the Japanese films.

It was all thanks to this day, May 16th, last year that Godzilla has a resurgence of popularity worldwide. I look forward to seeing what Edwards and Legendary bring to the table in three years.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

GODZILLA, MOTHRA, and KING GHIDORAH: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack Review

Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-out Attack (will be abbreviated "GMK" for the rest of the review) has a rather interesting reputation among fans. Some claim it to be one of the greatest of the films, likening it to a "masterpiece." Some say after the Baragon fight it quickly deteriorates into mediocrity. There is some truth to both these claims to be sure. It's definitely a good Godzilla film. It has many great things about it. This is because TOHO got the director of the fantastic 90's Gamera trilogy, Shusuke Kaneko, to direct. Sadly, TOHO is not generally not very loose when it comes to the big G, and it shows how little creative control the director had here. Still, it's one of the more notable entries in the franchise.

 Fifty years ago, the Japanese Defense Forces killed Godzilla or so they thought. When a series of terrifying natural disasters begin to plague Japan, including the inexplicable offshore sinking of a U.S. submarine, a mystic old man warns his nation that Godzilla has come back to destroy Japan as revenge for all the souls lost in the Pacific War. When mere military might cannot squash the monster, the mystic man awakens the Holy Beasts of Yamato — King Ghidorah, Mothra and Baragon, sleeping giants that protected Japan in ancient times. These untamed mammoth beasts take on Godzilla with frightening supernatural brute power that has been 2,000 years in the making. Tradition and technology collide in this chilling high-tech, cutting-edge fable.

The most unique aspect is Godzilla himself. While previous Gs range from villain, hero, to anti-hero, never has he been displayed as pure evil before. He has never purposely targeted humans before, just buildings and nuclear plants. Interestingly, while there's so much destruction, very rarely do we actually see people dying in the movies. We see them running around, but rarely actual death. Here it's different. The most powerful scene is when after hearing a lady's scream, G turns around and gives her and the rest of the fleeing people attention. He then precedes to unleash his atomic blast on them. The film then cuts to a classroom where students and the teacher can see the explosion, which looks like the aftermath of a bomb. (With Japan's and Godzilla's history, it's even more powerful.)

The film has some of the best city destruction scenes in all of the franchise. In fact, it could be fair to say this might have the best and most thematic destruction since the original film. Godzilla's emergence is grand, and he continues on to be one of the most engaging Gs created. The design itself is fantastic, with the white eyes and no pupils further giving the impression that he's pure malice. The reason why he's evil is intriguing. Apparently he has the collective souls of World War II within him. How that works and Hirotoshi claiming that G is "still an animal" is quite an interesting and confusing thought. This spiritual aspect is representative of Kaneko's work on "Gamera," and it's a shame it wasn't explored more. Nonetheless, despite intriguing but too little explored concepts, this Godzilla remains one of the best.

Of course, it couldn't be called "Giant monsters all-out attack" if Godzilla was the only kaiju. Here's perhaps the most infamous thing about this movie: the inclusion of Mothra and King Ghidorah. You see, Kaneko originally wanted to use Anguirus and Varan to join Baragon. But TOHO decided that Mothra and Ghidorah, being much more popular, would be better for the film $ wise. From a business standpoint it makes sense. Still, it would have been great seeing those two monsters re-imagined. (Sadly Varan is still confined to only one movie and two flying cameos in DESTROY ALL MONSTERS.) Some say having Angurius and Varan would have made it made better. After watching it again, I don't think it would have made much of a difference in the overall quality. Once you get past the fact that Ghidorah is a hero, the two actually aren't that bad.

Before diving into the two aforementioned monsters, let's talk about Baragon. (Who sadly wasn't popular enough to make it into the title) This is his first appearance since "DESTROY ALL MONSTERS" (33 year difference!) and his redesign is easily one of the best parts. It looks great, and his burrowing ability is used to great effect. The fight against Godzilla is probably the most well-done aspect of the film. Since Baragon is a non-beam fighter here, the battle was more traditional than compared to the climax. The viewer also greatly feels for Baragon, as he tries to hopelessly battle the evil Godzilla. In fact, this is one of those rare times when the viewer is rooting against Godzilla. When the director can pull that off, you know this is truly something else.

Mothra's redesign is truly beautiful. While Larva could have appeared more, the emergence of her Imago form makes up for it. (That, and the fact the Larva actually attacks a bunch of lawless teenagers in her one scene!) While Mothra makes sense as a guardian monster, Ghidorah does not. Still, Kaneko makes the best of what is given. While it may be appalling to see a version of the "King of Terror" who is basically a weakling when compared to G, (he wasn't even the one that finished off G in the end) it nonetheless makes for an interesting "what if." That, and one can't deny how realistic the suit looks. When it emerges in the city it just looks good. The climax with it being given wings thanks to Mothra's sacrifice (very well-done) scene makes for an exciting final battle. Underwater sequences can be very boring in kaiju films sometimes, but it's utilized well here. (The CGI for Godzilla swimming looks incredible. In fact, almost all of the CGI is fantastic, especially Ghidorah's transformation and then blast attack)

While the monsters are of course what make the film at the end of the day, the human characters either bring up the rating...or down. While not bad, the characters here aren't particularly too notable either. The main one is Yuri Tachibana, a reporter for a mockumentary show. She's okay, not particularly interesting but not bad either. I must give credit to the subplot with her father, Admiral Taizo Tachibana. It was quite emotional since she had the knowledge he was going to be the one attacking Godzilla head on. A lot of the side characters however need desperate help. There's some silliness that bring down the rather grim tone. For example, the owner of the Mt. Myoko park comes to force out Yuri and her crew, but is soon enticed by her saying that tourists will come. This is not bad, but he way over-acts. Another thing is Yuri's boss. Kaneko is no stranger to odd characters (Kurata in GAMERA III) and like that guy he's rather too unrealistic. A no-name character apparently wants to hang himself...and we're given no reason why. Another thing is the bathroom scene. It's just unnecessary and awkward. (But, I suppose the scene redeems itself when Godzilla's foot smashes the house, which was well-done.)

Godzilla movies almost always have notable soundtracks. This one is done by Kow Otani. (Who also did the music for the Gamera trilogy.) There are no complaints to be had. From Godzilla's fantastic new theme to the King Ghidorah's transformation, the soundtrack is very solid. (It was ingenious to include the classic ifukube theme at the end, which the 2014 film should have done!) As far as pacing goes, the film does a solid job with that. The tension for Gozilla's first appearance is well executed, which is also thanks to the excellent choreography. The scene when Yuri is riding her bike and sees Godzilla in the distance presents a great ominous picture. One character who deserves mention is Hirotoshi. He added to the unique spiritual aspect, but sadly this was not explored further. The film has that mythical atmosphere which separates itself from all other Godzilla films, but I have a feeling TOHO didn't let Kaneko go as far with it as he would have liked.

Overall, GMK remains a very solid entry in the series. The little problems and unexplored potential stops it from being aligned with the "greats"such as Gojira, Return of Godzilla, MONSTER ZERO, and Mothra vs. Godzilla. But it remains a step above almost all the Heisei films and most of the Millennium ones. The main monster has one of his greatest appearances yet. The fights have a thematic quality, and it has one of the best final scenes in the series. While GMK could have been a masterpiece if somethings were tweaked, fixed, and explored, it will always be an entertaining watch.


Thursday, May 7, 2015


It's always interesting when a reviewer claims a game is too hard and lists that as a negative. Many commenters would precede to attack: saying things like, "Well, that means you just aren't experienced enough!" or "What's the point of an easy game?" While it is true that a video game should be challenging, I think there's a difference between genuinely challenging and genuinely annoying. For example, a very challenging game is MegaMan Battle Network 4. The final boss in particular is very tough. Instead of getting angry every time one loses, the player comes back with a new strategy to test out. The player wants to face it again, because it's truly rewarding. That's what every game should strive to be like.

And then there's the other category.

PAC-LAND is one interesting game from a historical point of view. For one thing, it predates Super Mario Bros., making it one of the original sidescrollers. It also features Pac-Man with arms and legs playable for the first time. Despite these things, it remains relatively unknown to most people. The reason why it's enjoying a mini-surge of popularity is because of the inclusion of the stage "Pac-Land" in the newest Super Smash Bros. To capitalize on this, Nintendo released the game on the eShop. Being a fan of Pac and finding the concept of a sidescroller with him intriguing, how could one not download it? The stage in Smash was very inviting, so one would think the game was too. Unfortunately, downloading it is one big mistake. It's also a gravely missed opportunity, and you'll see why below...

See that picture? Look how happy Pac is and how detailed & colorful the backgrounds are . That's the game we should be playing. Instead, we get this...

You see, that's the original NES version. The picture above this one is the American adaption, which is more fondly remembered. Ironically, the stage in Super Smash is lifted straight from that version, not the crude looking looking Japanese original. Why Nintendo released this one over the one people like more is beyond me. Still, I have to credit for the original version having a church with an actual cross on it. (The American version took it out for whatever reason.)

So what exactly makes PAC-LAND genuinely annoying? Let's ignore for a second that thanks to the Wii U in virtual console games we can save wherever and whenever we please. The game itself doesn't offer any type of save option. There are over 25 levels. So let's say you lose in level 22, you're back at level 1. "But it's an arcade game" you say, and "back then the systems couldn't handle a saving feature!" That may be true, but the game has severe communication problems. For example, when the player first meets the Fairy Queen, she gives Pac the ability to continually jump. That's great, but the problem is that there's no indication this actually happened. So the player jumps not knowing what to do, and wastes a life. And let me tell you, lives are extra precious here. Because by simply touching a ghost you lose one. Ir's just overly frustrating. Without spamming save slots, I could almost guarantee I would not be able complete it. In fact, I think I could almost say it's near impossible without saving. So if you're one who has played this game all those years ago and beat it, you deserve at least seven gold trophies.

Still, to call Pac-Land a bad game would be a disservice because there are truly poorly made games out there. This was made in 1984, yet still works better than some Nintendo Wii games. (The worst game of all time is called Casper Scare School Spooky Sports Day, something that came out 31 years later!) Being made so long ago, it wouldn't be right to fault the gameplay too much for it's unfair mechanics and terrible, non-existent communication. The backgrounds are all pretty simplistic, but again it's forgivable for the period. There's basically just one theme which plays on loop every level. It isn't bad, but it would have been nice if they used the actual Pac-Man sound effects.

Overall, if you like annoyingly impossible games, PAC-LAND is for you. Unless you're some super gamer whom is an expert at this game, you'll be constantly spamming the save slots. It would be a lot less annoying if the Wii U had used the version everyone likes, but nope, rather we get the bland one. PAC-LAND is not a fun game. You're better off playing the classic for 126th time.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

My Little Pony: Fiendship is Magic Finale Review

Fiendship is Magic has been a very entertaining mini-series event. Often in pop culture it's the villain who actually proves to be more interesting than the hero. (Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy, Joker in The Dark Knight.) This series has been exploring antagonists from throughout MLP lore, and it been quite an intriguing ride. This time, for the finale, Queen Chrysalis takes center stage. How does it fare? Let's take a look.

Here's the official description from IDW:
The first My Little Pony mini-series event! This month-long weekly limited series explores the secret origins of the Equestria's greatest villains! The ponies visit the imprisoned Chrysalis... what secrets is she hiding!
Unarguably one of the greatest stories from the My Little Pony show is "A Canterlot Wedding." It has everything: a grand plot, emotion, and a great antagonist. Interestingly, the Queen's story didn't end there. She returned way back in the first arc of the main comic series. (Three years ago!) Now, she's back once again for the final issue of this event. It's hard to find to anything negative to say, for it is just extremely entertaining.

I think whenever we see the words "Katie Cook" and "Andy Price" on the cover excitement unveils. Whenever these two are on a comic, entertainment is guaranteed. Cook nicely writes a defeated Chrysalis, (or so it seems) to the point of even making the reader feel sorry for her at certain points. The story focuses on aspects of her villain adventures back in the day, which are surely interesting. Her origin is also explored, though that's rather underwhelming. (But, I think that was the point, to show that not every villain has a origin of how they because evil, rather they're just born with evil blood.) The ponies as expected have fantastic dialogue almost every panel. Spike's "1,000 years" comment was hilarious, as was Pinkie saying "that poor bucket" in response to Applejack using the expression "kick the bucket." Twilight's move at the end could be called controversial, but it was played just right.

Of course, Andy Price's art is fantastic. Like in the first arc all those years ago, it shows how evil and comical Queen Chrysalis can appear. The main cover by Amy Mebberson features a nicely drawn rendition of the title character. And once again, while having nothing to do with the story, the RI by Sara Richard features a unique rendition of the Mane 6, this time Applejack.

Overall, this very well could be the best issue of Fiendship. It's entertainment in every panel, and I think Chrysalis fans will really enjoy it. Looking back, I gotta say that this event was very ambitious on IDW's part. It successfully (for the most part) bridged gaps and deepened backstories of Equestria's most wanted. Sadly it's over, but it won't be forgotten!


Friday, May 1, 2015


One could make an argument that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the most anticipated film of 2015. Truth be told, that's probably the case. Still, many would claim that the highly awaited Avengers sequel, Age of Ultron is. (It could be a moot point anyway since both movies are both distributed by Disney!) When "The Avengers" came on the scene three years ago it forever changed the comic book movie landscape, landing as the third greatest film in the box office. And it definitely deserves it, for it is enjoyable from the start to finish. "Age of Ultron" brings back the characters for another excellent adventure. While perhaps lacking in iconic moments than the first one, it's nonetheless a worthy sequel to one of the most enjoyable movies of the decade.

When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) jumpstarts a dormant peacekeeping program, things go terribly awry, forcing him, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the rest of the Avengers to reassemble. As the fate of Earth hangs in the balance, the team is put to the ultimate test as they battle Ultron (James Spader), a technological terror hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they encounter two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff.

From the film's action-filled opening, you know you're in for something truly exciting. Director Joss Whedon once again incorporates the heroes and their unique personalities well. While sometimes the sarcasm feels like it's there just to be there, the dialogue is almost always enjoyable. And that's the way it should be when you have Earth's Mightiest Heroes together. Pace wise, like the first one there are practically no moments that drag on. Is it better than the first movie however? Of course, nothing will ever beat the "wow they're all together!" factor, but nonetheless I'm inclined to say the previous one is a little better and there are basically no plotholes, unlike this one. Still, any negatives that are about to be said don't hinder the enjoyment.

Almost all of the characters are of course great. Let's us however address one plothole: the Hulk. In the climax of the first movie Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) reveals that he's able to control his green alter ego since "He's always angry." Yet here he seems to have almost no control, which was disappointing. Because of this hole, Banner ended up being a lot less notable than his self in the first film. Another thing is the romance between him and Black Widow. (Scarlett Johansson.) It comes out of nowhere, but I can let that go slightly since at the same time it doesn't feel too forced while watching the film.
Chris Evans delivers another fantastic portrayal as Captain America. As the leader of the Avengers should be, he commands a level of inspiration every time he's on screen. Robert Downy Jr, while not having as many great lines as in the first movie, gives another great portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man. It's the same with Black Widow and of course Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury who doesn't appear much but when he does, he commands a presence. While before I thought there could have been someone better for the role of Thor, Chris Hemsworth proves here that he is a very good Prince of Thunder. The film also makes great use of previous characters in the franchise. Let us however talk about the new characters. When it was unveiled that Quicksilver, Scarlett Witch, and Vision would be appearing, many thought it would be too much of an overload. Somehow, the film makes it all work without making everything seem too crammed in.

The twins have an adequate amount of backstory, nicely setting them up as sympathetic without delving too much into that aspect. Scarlet Witch, being a major Avenger in the comics, has some nice scenes in the climax. Sadly, Quicksilver fans might be disappointed with his role in comparison. Vision doesn't get too much screen time, yet he still manages to be a highlight. If this were another movie it would have felt crammed, but not in the Avengers. A surprise highlight was Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. It was as if if Whedon was saying "sorry" for his role in the first movie, being mind-controlled for most of it. Here he actually ends up being one of the big highlights. Now, onto perhaps the biggest reason for watching this...ULTRON.

Many fans were shocked when it was revealed at Comic Con two years ago that Ultron would be the antagonist. Thanos is perhaps Marvel's greatest villain, but as far as Avengers enemies go, Ultron can't be beat. As a longtime fan of the character, I know the different versions of him in the comics well. The movie's version to say the least is definitely engaging. James Spader delivers a terrific voice portrayal. Character wise, he's definitely a greatly written character, but how about as an Ultron adaption? While his dialogue is almost always enjoyable, it seems to me that he was chosen to be sarcastic because the team is. It seems that what the film was going for is a dark mirror of Tony Stark's personality. It would have been interesting to see if the film used his more serious, logical robot persona. Still, at the end of the day despite any personal preferences what we get is one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's greatest antagonists. He commands a presence, and thankfully the film doesn't shy away from how powerful he is. (I still think his design from the Comic Con teaser would have been better.)

From the opening until the climax, the film has a lot of impressive action scenes. Perhaps the most hyped one was the Hulk Buster vs. Hulk battle. It definitely doesn't disappoint, but my personal favorite one was when Cap battles Ultron himself on top of a truck. Marvel continues to improve with the intensity and choreography of the action scenes. The final battle, like the first movie, has the team battle an army. This is entertaining, but it would have been nice to see more of a fight with Ultron himself. He only really battles the team one on one at a time, which is rather disappointing. Soundtrack wise, it's pretty standard as far as comic book movies go. We have the usual heroic themes which are always utilized well. The soft opera used during the climax was used extremely well, further making apparent of the rather bleak situation.

Overall, the Age of Ultron delivers. While not necessarily better than the first movie, there's no denying how enjoyable and great it is regardless. Yes, there are somethings that could be fixed and tweaked a bit, but really when you're watching Iron Man take on the Hulk in the streets it's hard to complain. Ultron is fantastic, and while it would have been nice to see a more serious take, there's denying that he was a blast to watch on screen. The action is amped-up, with plenty of incredible battle scenes scattered throughout. Marvel has done it again.