New Avengers movie is ageless comic book gold 

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Even half-functional subplots and formulaic main plots can’t trip up the in-your-face force that is Avengers: Age of Ultron. Nor can the action — textured with hyper-detailed effects and dizzying cinematography — be hindered by rational thought or muddy storylines. The movie is comic cinema gold, better than the first Avengers film because it delivers more action and backstories and a trip inside the superheroes’ psyches.

When Iron Man Tony Stark (Robert Downy, Jr.), a tech genius who feels guilt for his previous life as a war monger, hatches a plan to protect the world from alien foes, it backfires and creates an artificial life named Ultron — voiced by James Spader — bent on forcing the human race to “evolve,” which is code for total annihilation. The Avengers assemble and proceed to fight an infinite army of robots and accidentally help create an android called Vision — thus setting up shop for sequels and creating a solid movie that stands on its own as a beacon of hope for comic book nerds and casual moviegoers alike.

Age of Ultron is as much a superhero in Hollywood as are the characters in the Marvel universe. Since this will probably be the second biggest movie of the year (it earned $631.1 million worldwide its first weekend), it shows the strengths of superhero movies as moneymakers despite the recent influx of comic book films. The film is good, and comic connoisseurs can rest assured that comic book movies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. The inevitability of crossovers and reboots only bolsters this franchise.

The movie lags, as many sequels do, but where some fall behind, Age of Ultron has enough characters to buoy the film without diminishing the adrenaline coursing through the audience members’ veins.

This installment provides a deeper look at the Hawkeye character, aka Clint Barton, played by Jeremy Renner. This works because he is one of only two Avengers — including Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) — who haven’t had their own movie. While both have had screen time in other Avengers-related movies, Renner has had considerably less. This makes him ripe for a glimpse into what he does outside of saving the world. Some might like this, but it is the film’s weakest part. However, Hawkeye delivers some of the film’s funniest lines.

Writer/director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) has outdone himself with this sequel. Once you see an epic movie like the first Avengers, it seems the bar is set and sequels rarely reach that high again but this one outdoes the first in terms of action and effects. The cinematography is dazzling and as much a character in the movie as a conflicted Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo), yet the shots feel intuitive, as though they couldn’t be filmed any other way. Whedon is that talented, which makes it especially painful that this is supposedly his last foray into the Avengers world.

The movie introduces two new superheroes, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver (Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, respectively). This sets up an interesting subplot involving Stark and war but also makes it seem natural when the duo switches from adversary to ally.

Age of Ultron gives us more screen time with the Avengers during their downtime. The results are humorous. The plot also explores backstories and subjects like the psychology and sociology of the superheroes themselves. Scarlet Witch gives us a quick look at what drives the Avengers, what each one has experienced and what they fear the most. It is a limited but interesting twist that might foreshadow events in the next Marvel movies.

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