Avengers: Age of Ultron

I was thinking…

…how, at least in films, it is made evident that the bigger the city, the bigger the idiots. If there’s a cataclysmic event, an alien invasion or a military incursion, the general populace tends to stare, scream and rarely, if ever, try to get as far away from the source of the problem.

Nowhere is this evidence of monumental stupidity more prevalent than in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Whether its in Johannesburg, South Africa; Seoul, South Korea or the fictional land of Sokovia, panic-frozen morons abound.

That being said, Age of Ultron does not disappoint, beginning with the cast–mainly a continuation of the ensemble from the first Avengers film: Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner. But joining the already entertaining set are Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick Ass), Elizabeth Olsen (Godzilla), and the vocal creepiness of James Spader (Stargate).

As tempting as it would be to say, “…picking up where the last film left off…,” I cannot, because that would be a horrible lie. The problem with a “universe” flick is that the overarching story can be as difficult to keep up with as a similar series of comic book crossovers. In that sense, the Marvel films are truly keeping in touch with the feel of reading the monthly, saddle-stitched fare. So, I’ll encapsulate to the best of my ability without giving anything away…

We join the Avengers as they attack a Hydra base somewhere in the snowy mountains of the Eastern European country of Sokovia. Although the tide of the battle turns in favor of our protagonists, Tony Stark/Ironman (Downey) is accosted by the Scarlet Witch (Olsen), who opens his mind to a potential fate for the world and, more specifically, his team.

Having reacquired the Staff of Loki (the glowing pointy spear from the first film), Stark and Bruce Banner (Ruffalo) attempt to put its mystic powers to use by trying to secretly solve the problem of artificial intelligence. Stark’s goal is to put “a suit of armor around the world” by starting up his Ultron program, applying it to his Iron Legion robots who accompany the team.

As with all mad science, the plan goes awry and the end result is none other than Ultron (Spader), a diabolical and appropriately spine-tingling robot who thinks the best way to protect the globe and achieve “peace in our time,” is for life to evolve. This is a job best accomplished by instituting a plan first set forth by Bender from Futurama: kill all humans.

Ultron makes off with the sceptre/staff/spear and spreads his influence. He eventually returns to Sokovia with a mass of vibranium (the same element of which Captain America’s shield is made) and sets to make an army of, well, himself. As if that weren’t enough, he enlists the aid of the twin troublemakers from the first chapter: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

The Avengers, their minds poisoned and distrust rampant in their midst, must somehow assemble to put an end to Ultron’s mission of human extinction, vis…

Okay. Well, there you go. That trailer was, in my opinion, way better than the third and final one released, which pretty much gave away the entire film. I hate when they do that.

Anyway, while Age of Ultron is anything but a disappointing outing, it does seem to come up a little short of its predecessor. Missing is the same level of jocundity and lightheartedness that ran throughout the first film. Although Age of Ultron is not without humor and a decent amount of it, there is an impending feeling of dourness hiding behind it all.

Perhaps being a sophomore or junior in high school or college would be an appropriate metaphor. As the school year comes to a close, a bittersweet reality sets in. The thrill of the new adventures that summer will bring are somehow tainted knowing your friends in the senior class will not be returning. They will move on to other places and other things while you will remain, your memories never quite filling the void left by those departing friends.

That’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

However, there seems to be considerably less exposition and more action in this sequel. And it is riddled with surprise appearances (no, I’m not telling who. Then it wouldn’t be a surprise). The fighting sequences do move with a rapidity that demands a second or third viewing and instills one with the assurity that one is most certainly not seeing everything there is being offered.

Industrial Light and Magic do their thing quite spectacularly once again in a movie where the line between real and computer-generated is consistently blurred. And the incomparable Danny Elfman (Batman) does a decent job of taking the musical score reins from Alan Silvestri.

Moving with the pace of a cheetah with a rear-end full of nitrous oxide, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a suitable addition to the Marvel Universe canon. And, perhaps more importantly, it kicks off the summer movie season with the energy necessary to drag lovers of action films out of their winter stupor and the drive to get them to assemble at the box office.

Ammo Dump rating: 7 out of 10 Hawkeye arrows

I’ll talk more about this film and others during my radio show (when it returns). And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter: @ALphaEXray for more movie news updates.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Rated PG-13
Run time: 141 minutes

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