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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Avengers: Age of Ultron | Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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The Avengers: Age of Ultron | Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson | Review

In the first Avengers (2012) the superhero team did not fully coalesce until very late in the plot, perhaps 45 minutes before the end credits.  The Avengers: Age of Ultron) catapults the now-bonded sextet and the viewer into the middle of a Hydra battle before the title and opening credits.

Don’t expect to catch your breath anytime soon.

The Hydra battle, with Captain America’s (Chris Evans) shield and Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) hammer flying at the enemy along with our heroes Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, CGI) Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), is a dizzying, non-stop whirlwind, highlighting each of the teams mega-talents.

Avengers-in-waiting (but they don’t know it yet) are bother and sister mutants, the telekinetic, mind manipulator Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and the so-fast-he’s-invisible Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).  It takes these two a while to find the right path, so they waste a lot of good energy for a bad cause until then.

The Hydra takedown nets Tony Stark/Ironman a powerful stone from Loki’s (look him up) scepter that he uses to create a world peacekeeping A.I. named Ultron (voiced by James Spader).  The normally unshakeable Stark, already the creator of right-hand entity J.A.R.V.I.S. (voiced by Paul Bettany) - Just a Rather Very Intelligent System, an ultra-polite advanced A.I. advisor, finds that Ultron literally has a mind of its own, and it doesn’t fancy Stark’s peaceful vision.  Its first victim is J.A.R.V.I.S.

Ultron, in fact, would like to destroy mankind in general, starting with the Avengers; so much for world peacekeeping.  In short order, he inhabits an old Iron Man prototype suit, assembles a mob of robotic, flying henchmen and recruits the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (who blame Stark for their parents’ death) to help him annihilate the Avengers.

The (endless) battle that ensues takes place in the fictional Eastern European country of Sokovia, which illustrates the tern “war torn” in the most literal way possible.  

This is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU)  11th outing, and it’s a big, bloated, sometimes confusing attempt to stuff every wisecrack, gimmick, and effect (requisite 3D just ok) into the 142 minute running time.

With a 229 million budget at his disposal, writer/director Joss Whedon (The Avengers) had the challenging task of steering this CGI-driven behemoth through several storylines while trying to further develop characters that we met through their solo spotlights in the franchise.  


Marvel’s single-hero films have given birth to this many-headed, flying, super-power-wielding progeny that, despite ample screen time, are less engaging as a team, somehow, than they were as single personalities.  How did that happen?

There are tiny attempts to gain character insight.  A soiree at Stark’s home features a hammer hoisting contest.  Black Widow and the Hulk develop an uneasy but undeniable attraction.  Captain America is a bit of a prude.  Hawkeye wonders if he’s “enough” with his bow and arrow shtick amid all that superpower.  Thor is amused by his comparatively weak cohorts, while Stark comes to the stark (groan) realization that he’s a kind of Frankenstein (my words).

Characters and cameos appear swiftly as the plot progresses at breakneck speed.  Forget about being a standalone film.  Newcomers don’t stand a chance at comprehension but would probably appreciate the visuals.  Hardcore fans will have more success, but a film on this grand a scale should aim to engage everyone.  It’s been done (Guardians of the Galaxy).

The huge cast includes Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Anthony Mackie, Hayley Atwell, Idris Elba, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard, Andy Serkis, and the always amusing Stan Lee.

Wait until after the credits for a brief teaser.

An avalanche of additional details outnumbers those shared here, so you can imagine the amount of information hurled at the viewer.  Whether it’s received and digested is another matter.

Chew on that, if you can.

 

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