Avengers: The Age of Ultron

They keep jamming more and more into these movies and making them harder and harder to summarize. Someday I'm going to give up on discussing the plot and just list all the things I thought about and discuss what the audience did, sort of a meta-review, but that day is not today. I'll do my best to hit all the high points.

First, let's just say that everyone's back from last time and get that link out of the way. New this time around is James Spader having a great time as the creepy voice of Ultron (I didn't realize James Spader was ever in the American version of The Office, though even for him I wouldn't have watched that show). Then there are Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen, both formerly in Godzilla as husband and wife and here playing the Maximoff twins, Pietro and Wanda, who still never actually get called Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch even though they're credited that way.

Okay, plot. The Avengers are on the trail of Loki's Scepter, aka the Chitauri scepter from the last movie because it's megapowerful and needs to go to Asgard where it can be safe. I don't know why they think it will be safe there since all sorts of awful things happened in Asgard during the last Thor movie, but that's the plan. Except Tony Stark, who has both Curious and Impulsive as disadvantages, wants to study it and persuades Thor to leave it where it is for a few days. Then Tony discovers that the gem in the scepter contains some kind of alien magical computer intelligence that's exactly what he needs for the Ultron project, an advanced A.I. designed to protect the Earth from threats from other worlds.

So Tony decides to mix this unknown, extremely powerful tech with his own computer network. What could possibly go wrong? I think anyone who's ever read or watched any sci-fi is aware that humans and artificial intelligence rarely have the same idea of what 'protect' means, so there's mistake number one, and it's a doozy. Before you know it, Ultron has pulled a Skynet and is everywhere, forcing our heroes to go low-tech. Ultron also recruits some 'enhanced' help (since no one is allowed to use the word 'mutant' here) in the shape of the aforementioned Maximoff twins. They were orphaned by a Stark Industries missile back in the day, and they're looking for a little vengeance. Tony really is more trouble than he's worth sometimes.

The Scarlet Witch's powers are different from the comic book -- here she does telekinesis and can also reach into your minds to pull out your darkest fears and memories and make them seem real. This is apparently meant as a way of developing the characters, but it doesn't really work out as planned. For one thing, we already know that Tony will never change no matter how many times he's shown his darkest fears... which also never change, so it seems kinda pointless.

Overall it seems to have the usual sequel problems -- more super powers / special effects and less charm, though they do try. There's banter and relationship issues (which are almost entirely unlike the relationships in the comic, but that's all right) and Hawkeye is just so refreshingly normal, but a lot of the fun seemed to get left on the cutting room floor this time. It's actually a little sad to realize that there's no more cutting of actual film, but anyway.

There's just SO MUCH HAPPENING in the movie that there almost isn't time for any fun, even with two hours and 41 minutes to play with, and I can't go any higher than four out of five. And there was only one short teaser scene which made me sad. Ah, well, hopefully some of the fun has ended up in Ant-Man, which doesn't seem to be taking itself too seriously, so we can all look forward to that. Except those of us who really don't like ants, that is...

Image: 
The obligatory cast photo. I couldn't find anything else good, sadly.

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