Avengers: Age of Ultron. So where are the articles, you ask? And I answer, “Here’s one of them.”
To best enjoy this film, remind yourself not to expect the impossible. Three years ago we all got shivers as we watched The Avengers and realized, “It’s really happening. After all the hype, it’s finally happening and I’m watching it right now!” Alas, that feeling only comes once per franchise, so don’t approach Ultron with unrealistic expectations. Just know writer-director Joss Whedon has done about as good a job with the sequel as you could hope for and enjoy.
Whedon stuffs the film with everything he imagines we want. There’s more action, new characters, a colorful villain, plenty of banter, inspirational moments, even a bit of romance. The movie runs two hours and twenty minutes, reportedly trimmed from a three hour cut (which should turn up on the Blu-ray, right?)
Ultron starts with the Avengers fighting what’s left of Hydra. Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) gets hurt, but never fear — he’s going to get extra screen time this go around to make up for being possessed for a good chunk of the first movie. Along the way we meet twins Pietro and Wanda Maximoff/Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (Aaron-Taylor Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen). He runs super fast and she has numerous powers, including the ability to induce “waking dreams.” The screenplay writes off the multi-power business by describing her abilities as “weird.” Not helpful. NOTE: The twins used to be Magneto’s kids, but not in this reality. And this Quicksilver is played by a different guy than the one in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Go figure.
After the fight, the gang gets to hang out, allowing some good humored moments involving the hammer of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and some romantic bonding between Natasha Romanova/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Later, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) worry over their vanquished enemy’s advances in artificial intelligence. Linda Cardellini and Paul Bettany also appear, but that’s all I’m going to say about them lest I spoil any surprises.
Long story short (is that still possible?), the Avengers soon have to deal with Ultron (voiced quite nicely by James Spader), a self-aware robotic smart-ass who aims to make the world better by getting rid of humans. Logical plan, probably, but if it works who’s going to post all the videos of cute animals on YouTube?
The problem with plot lines in superhero super-team tales is that they must be awesome enough to justify the gathering of so many mighty heroes, and how often can you do that before it starts getting ridiculous? The answer is not often, so don’t worry about the plot, especially the part involving those damned Infinity stones that keep popping up in Marvel movies. Such a lot of fuss over jewelry!
Bottom line: I dug all the downtime scenes. Loved most of the exchanges between the characters. Appreciated the Avengers’ attempts to avoid destruction in population centers. The action scenes were very exciting and clever, but I had trouble keeping up with the visuals. Do you see how I’m trying to cram a lot into this essay before I reach my word limit? That’s what the movie does too. You’ll deal with it, I reckon.