Movie Review: ‘Avengers’ sequel mostly lives up to Marvel’s hype

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The superpowered dysfunctional family is back at it again.

Billionaire, playboy philanthropist Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), star-spangled straightedge Captain America (Chris Evans), Nordic fish-out-of-water Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Green Giant rip-off Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), token female Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and “really good at shooting arrows” Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) open up director Joss Whedon’s second Avengers outing with a bang, or several.

The film kicks off with an action spectacle that takes a righteous dump on Michael Bay’s entire movie career, with the supergroup wrapping up a world tour of raiding what’s left of the villainous Hydra’s bases and tracking Loki’s scepter from the first Avengers film to the snow-ridden hills of Sokovia, a fictional Eastern-European country.

After recovering the glowstick of destiny, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program that takes the form of the wisecracking killer robot Ultron (James Spader).

Soon enough, the artificial intelligence decides that the solution to keeping the world safe is by exterminating the human race.

Ultron escapes, enlisting the help of Hydra’s super-powered experiments and newcomers Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen).

“He’s fast and she’s weird,” former S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Maria Hill explains to Cap in a debrief after the Sokovia debacle.

What follows is a globe spanning adventure to stop Ultron from succeeding in his plans to create an extinction event.

Is this sequel better than the first?

As a whole, no.

Part of what made “The Avengers” so exciting was the very notion that it was even happening in the first place. “Age of Ultron” doesn’t quite recapture the magic of the first film, but it does beat its predecessor in some areas.

The action sequences are top notch,

Whedon’s one liners are as hilarious as ever and the special effects are impressive.

So where does “Age of Ultron” go wrong? Firstly, the movie has a huge pacing problem. It’s pretty standard of action movies to include some slower moments, and these moments in “Age of Ultron” at times just don’t mesh well with the movie as a whole, and bog it down at times.

To make things more complex, the movie feels a bit overstuffed at times (even a Marvel fanboy like myself has to acknowledge this). 

There are times when the film’s attempts to set up future Marvel films seem a little forced, and end up detracting from the real issue at hand – a maniacal murder bot posed to destroy all human life on the planet.

I have more critiques, but that’s not to say that the movie was bad.

“Age of Ultron” is most definitely a worthy successor to the first Avengers movie.

Hawkeye dons a more fleshed out role than last time.

Hulkbuster clashing with Hulk is a nerdgasm, as are many other points in this film.

Vision (Paul Bettany) created from Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S. program is very yes.

“Age of Ultron” leaves us at an interesting place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with brothers Joe and Anthony Russo (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”) taking the torch from Whedon to direct the next two-part Avengers storyline.

I can’t wait to see what lies in store.

An 8 out of 10.


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