“I tried to create a suit of armor around the world but I created something terrible,” admits Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to the rest of the Avengers after his secret peacekeeping A.I. program turns on and turns into the most dangerous and lethal enemy they’ve ever faced in the action-packed sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Since defeating Thor’s adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army, Stark has been secretly working – with the reluctant assistance of Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) – on creating an A.I. system smart enough and powerful enough to protect Earth from any kind of threat. When the Avengers retrieve Loki’s old scepter after a firefight with the evil organization HYDRA, Stark and Banner begin experimenting with its powers to see if they can bring their creation to life. Unfortunately for Stark, Banner, the rest of the Avengers, and the world, the A.I. named Ultron (voiced by James Spader) gains sentience and sees mankind as a plague to the world. Ultron determines his mission of creating peace on earth can only be fulfilled by making mankind extinct.
Building a robot army and enlisting the help of Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) – Marvel’s version of The Flash – and his twin sister Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), a mind-reading/controlling telekinetic bad girl, both of whom hate Stark with a passion, Ultron sets out to destroy the Avengers and the rest of the human race. It’s up to Iron Man, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and the Hulk to stop Ultron from carrying out his horrific plan.
Big, bold, and action-packed, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a thrilling event movie that surpasses its predecessor and will have audiences of all ages (and comic book fans/non-readers alike) laughing and applauding in their seats. All the main cast members are back led once again by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark whose performance, as always, elevates the film to a higher level. Another stand-out performance is delivered by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, the bow and arrow assassin who this time out has some of his secret life revealed to the Avengers and the audience. Renner steals every scene he’s in and has some of the best and most crowd-pleasing lines in the film.
Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo also return as Natasha/Black Widow and Banner/Hulk who in this outing are developing deep feelings for each other. In fact it’s usually Natasha’s touch and calming voice that gets the giant angry green guy to turn back to Dr. Banner after all the fighting is done.
One of the big reasons Avengers: Age of Ultron is a superior sequel is the brilliant move in hiring James Spader to voice and give life to the villain Ultron. Spader gives the giant menacing A.I. creature a very human and interesting personality. Thanks to Spader (and writer/director Joss Whedon), Ultron is not only imposing and formidable but at times witty and fearful. In short, Ultron is a stronger and more dynamic villain for the Avengers to fight.
The second reason the film is better is it doesn’t have to spend the first half of the movie finding and teaming up the six superheroes. The sequel isn’t saddled with the need to set up the group and thus can get right into the action.
Overall, Avengers: Age of Ultron has stunning action sequences, impressive CGI (Ultron and his army of robots look great), and finds enough time to have a few quiet human moments for its superheroes. Stirring and well-paced, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a star-powered, full throttle action adventure film that delivers everything a moviegoer could want from a summer blockbuster.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments.
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