At The Movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron

When it comes to The Avengers, I cannot be an unbiased reviewer.

When it comes to The Avengers, I am 10 years old and walking into Wood’s Supermarket and pulling the team’s 100th anniversary issue off the spinner rack and saying goodbye to boring old DC Comics.

I can’t go back in time and be 10 years old again. But thanks to Joss Whedon, Marvel Studios and all the talent involved in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” at least i can feel 10 years old again. And that will do quite nicely.

This over-stuffed, over-ambitious, superhero free-for-all fixes the first film’s major flaw (more Hawkeye) but gets bogged down in too many characters and too wonky of a plot. Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? If so, then “AoU” would be a good example.

The movie starts out with — what else? — an epic action scene as our heroes start tearing up a Hydra base in Eastern Europe to recover Loki’s scepter. Now you may be asking yourself, why did Thor leave his brother’s powerful scepter behind with S.H.I.E.L.D. at the end of the first movie? It doesn’t make any sense once you think about it. Apparently he left it there to set up this film.

avengers-age-of-ultron-alternateThe Avengers — Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) — get what they’re after and go back home to party.

Left behind in Sokovia are the super-powered twins Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), who were being experimented on at the Hydra base. They want nothing to do with the Avengers as they blame Tony Stark, or rather the weapons his company made, for the troubles in their homeland.

Thor agrees to let Tony run some experiments on Loki’s scepter (again — why would you do that, Thor?). Tony discovers some kind of alien artificial intelligence inside the gem and decides to use it for a planetary defense system he’s designed named Ultron. Ultron (James Spader) becomes self-aware and decides the best way to protect the earth is to eliminate the human infestation.

But before enacting his kill-all-humans plan, Ultron decides to build a newer, better body. The Avengers decide that’s a bad idea and steal the body, whereupon Tony downloads into that new body the brain patterns of his computer buddy Jarvis. Behold…The Vision (Paul Bettany).

avengers-age-of-ultron-collageIt all ends with — you guessed it — one more cataclysmic action scene as The Avengers rush back to Sokovia to stop Ultron and his robot army from causing an extinction-level event.

And that’s just the bare bones. There’s so much going on here and I haven’t even touched on all the personal drama. Trust me, there’s plenty of that too. Some of it may even surprise you.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” simply has too much good going for it. Too many characters, too much action. Even at 2.5 hours, there’s not enough time to develop a dozen major characters and come up with a coherent story.

The originals are given plenty of room — even Hawkeye — this time it’s the newbies who suffer. James Spader is wonderfully creepy as Ultron but sadly he’s not given much to do. He’s simply not fleshed out, so to speak. But that’s also true for Wanda, Pietro and the Vision.

The first film had a tighter focus. This one goes off on odd tangents — like Thor in the puddle of mystery. Was that scene just there so Hemsworth could take his shirt off? I know many people won’t mind, but still, it seems like there should be a reason.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is another comic book success story for Marvel Studios. “Ant-Man” has some big shoes to fill come July.





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