'Avengers: Age of Ultron' kicks off summer blockbuster season
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ kicks off summer blockbuster season

The biggest movie of the summer is here. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” will rake in millions of dollars, become a worldwide phenomenon, and secure Marvel Studios’ position as king of the box office.

Of course, all this begs the question, is the movie any good? Not that it really matters, but yeah, it’s pretty good.

Honestly, this movie deserves credit for simply not being a train wreck. As a convergence point for multiple franchises both past and future coupled with the need to service so many characters this is, to paraphrase an old saying, 10 pounds of movie in a five-pound bag.

And that’s before we even begin to deal with the fact this is a sequel, which means it comes with the expectation it must somehow top itself.

No wonder writer/director Joss Whedon is graciously bowing out of the Marvel Universe after this entry, the guy has to be exhausted.

But even still, “Age of Ultron” fits the Marvel pedigree of delivering a funny, rowdy, entertainingly eye-popping good time. It may be a little more lumbering and unwieldy than the first “Avengers,” but Whedon expertly steers it into port like he’s docking a cruise ship in the middle of a hurricane.

All of your old favorites return with Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (better known as the Hulk), Chris Evans as Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

We even have some hangers-on from our heroes’ individual films, like Don Cheadle as Iron Man’s buddy War Machine and Anthony Mackie as The Falcon, who befriended Captain America in his last outing.

Two new super-additions are a pair of twins with shifting allegiances. Super-speedy Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his telekinetic sister the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) bring a new dynamic to the mix.

Our villain this time out is an artificially intelligent robot named Ultron (voiced with creepy perfection by James Spader). Ultron was initially developed by Iron Man as a potential savior for the planet Earth, but in spite of these good intentions, Ultron quickly decides the best way to protect the planet is to do away with the human race.

Or something like that. To be honest, Ultron’s motivations as a villain are a little murky, but Spader has a lot of fun with it and as long as there is somebody formidable for the Avengers to do battle against, that’s really all we are looking for here.

It’s Whedon’s touch that makes these movies more than just sound, fury, and spectacle. He finds room for little character moments like when the gang sits around after a party trying to see who can lift Thor’s hammer. Not only is it funny, but it makes these superhuman individuals all the more relatable.

If anybody stands out in this movie it is, surprisingly, Renner. Maybe Whedon felt the need to do him a solid after relegating his character to the sidelines in the first “Avengers.” Renner is an excellent actor and he has no problem commanding a few scenes as we learn a whole lot more about Hawkeye and gain some insight into what it’s like to be the least-super member of a superhero team.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to entertain the pants off of the entire world. Does it lose a few points for execution? Sure, but we should consider ourselves lucky we can only find a few minor points to grumble about as we kick off the bombastic summer blockbuster season.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence, and destruction, and for some suggestive comments.

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