Earth’s mightiest heroes assemble for another summer blockbuster

MOVIE REVIEW – Not quite one for the “ages,” but good enough.

By Alvin Cuadra, Staff Photographer

Earth’s mightiest heroes reunite in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” to face their most terrifying challenge yet: Fan expectations.

The summer blockbuster sequel enjoyed the second-largest domestic opening ever (its hopes for the record likely KO’d by Mayweather-Pacquiao). The film’s ambition to please fans succeeds – more or less.

Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) create an artificial intelligence lifeform named Ultron (voiced by James Spader) who is meant to bring peace to Earth. Unfortunately, Ultron idea of peace doesn’t include the Avengers’ existence.

“Age of Ultron” was destined to not be as good as the first, simply because it won’t compare to the rush of the first time we saw the Avengers together on the big screen. This time around, we do get a peek into Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner’s) private life and see a more sensitive side to Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who’s known for maintaining an assassin’s icy composure. Unfortunately, there isn’t much of a window into the other characters.

The sequel brings more beloved comic-book characters on board, such as Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), his twin sister Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), and The Vision (Paul Bettany). Scarlet Witch has amazing powers and an interesting backstory with her brother. The only curse to her performance was Olsen’s unconvincing Eastern European accent – it was flat-out distracting. The long-awaited debut of The Vision didn’t disappoint, with plenty of surprises.

Seeing the Avengers function as a well-oiled machine is one of the film’s joys. The heroes know exactly what strengths their teammates have. The well-choreographed action, matched with their easy camaraderie, is fun to watch.

Ultron is a different kind of villain. He comes off comically and sarcastic, which makes sense, since part of his personality comes from his co-creator, Tony Stark. It’s a huge change of pace – which is good and bad, as Loki, Ronan and Thanos, villains from previous Marvel movies are all more intimidating.

The dialogue is absolutely hilarious. Even in the most heated moments, writer-director Joss Whedon allows moments of relief with light jokes. At times the lines become corny, but that comes with the whole comic-book feel.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” gave us another opportunity to see all of the heroes on screen at once. While the sequel isn’t perfect, it does the job of entertaining the audience – and whetting appetites for the many, many more Marvel features planned to come.

3.5 stars (out of 5)

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