Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Laura Clifford 
Avengers: Age of Ultron

Robin Clifford 

After S.H.I.E.L.D crumbled, exposing Hydra as the force behind it, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has created an A.I. intended as a Global Peace Keeping guard, but when the group gathers for 'revels' to celebrate the retrieval of Thor's scepter from Hydra, Jarvis (voice of Paul Bettany) is alarmed when it boots up and comes to the quick conclusion that peace on earth will only occur when humankind has been made extinct in "Avengers: Age of Ultron."

Laura:
While not a fan of Superheroes in general, I've enjoyed Marvel's Avenger movies to varying degrees.  Until now.  While the characters themselves can still provide little jolts of pleasure (with Chris Hemsworth's Thor the most fun this time around) writer/director Joss Whedon tosses around too many objects of fan reverence like Mind Stones and scepters and attempts to pull in characters from the Avenger's individual stories only to leave them flapping in the wind (i.e., Stellan Skarsgård's Erik Selvig and Anthony Mackie's Falcon).  Expanding the action outside of the U.S. consists of establishing shots of Seoul, the interior of a dingy South African warehouse and the fictional Eastern European land of Sokovia.  We see more of the American heartland when a 'safe house' turns out to be the surprise home of one of the crew, a farm right out of 'Superman's' world.

There are exactly three things of interest in the second Avengers round-up: James Spader's vocal performance as Ultron, the Beauty and the Beast style romance bubbling between Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and an amusing contest among the group to attempt to pick up Thor's hammer, the latter of which is really only there to set up a subsequent gag.  The best action sequence has nothing to do with the Avengers fighting off the bad guys, but with Iron Man trying to shut down The Hulk.  This film's running joke involves Captain America's sensitivity to colorful language, something that gets forced by its fourth iteration. And while it's nice to see Jarvis morph into The Vision, giving us more of Bettany's visage, frankly he looks like he's been covered in red silicone oven mitts.

Andy Serkis's ("Rise of the Planet of the Apes") Ulysses Klaue looks like a promising character but he's gone before we've barely understood his reason for being (kinda like Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who here even admits as much himself).  More prominent is Claudia Kim's Dr. Helen Cho, more notable for her interest in Thor than her bioengineering skills.  Of course the biggest additions here are the twins, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff aka the reality altering Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver, both of whose powers are visualized by trails of vapor, red and white.  Frankly I expected more from the casting of Elizabeth Olsen than to see her 'throw' red bolts.  Aaron Taylor-Johnson, graduating from "Kick-Ass" is more interesting, but not as compelling as Aaron Peters' "X-Men" interpretation.

A whole bunch of blather leads up to the same old climax with imperiled innocents and massive destruction.  I could barely stay awake, but for Danny Elfman's booming score.

Grade:  C

Robin:
Robin did not see this film.
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