Been there, done that, blew up a bunch of stuff.
Chalk it up to superhero fatigue but for me, the sequel to the 2012 $1.5 billion coagulation of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye just didn’t overwhelm me. I guess you could say it merely “whelmed” me.
Marvel’s “Age of Ultron,” like its predecessor, comes from writer/director Joss Whedon and is chock full of action — enough for two Megascreens. Perhaps the only complaint is that too much is going on … every. single. moment. (Someone behind me slipped away to the men’s room for no more than three minutes and it took almost 10 for his girlfriend to bring him up to speed.)
Such is the dilemma with so many characters to service and almost as many storylines. Black Widow Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is cultivating a burgeoning relationship with Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) but, y’know, only if he can keep his temper in check (their kids would be gorgeous — mercurial, but gorgeous).
The enigmatic Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is juggling an Avenger career and a Norman Rockwellian family. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cracking wise. Captain America (Chris Evans) is monitoring the cuss jar. And, billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), when he’s not rocking his Iron Man suit, is writing the checks to keep the Avengers in hammer polish, arrows, and beer, though he does seem to be going through some kind of existential crisis here.
Then there’s the plot. Hidden in a retrieved gem is an artificial intelligence program that Stark and Bruce Banner implement for a global defense system known as “Ultron.” Ultron, magnificently voiced by James Spader (TV’s “The Blacklist”), becomes self-aware or “sentient.”
Its idea of protecting the planet is a lot like that of Moses and/or ’60s oracles Zager and Evans, who sang, “He’ll either say, ‘I’m pleased where man has been,’ or tear it down and start again.” Woe-woe if the Avengers can’t stop Ultron before the “world is made clean,” as Spader says with equal inflections of eloquence and ominousness.
Great banter between the characters but a little manic for my tastes, though fans and the box office are seldom wrong.
Med City Movie Guy’s rating: 3 Honks
Not that they don’t deserve it, but don’t the Spider-Men and Incredibles of the world get more than enough praise? How about a comic-book, film or even just a YouTube video acknowledging these everyday heroes:
Garbage Man. Special power: can negotiate a cul-de-sac with a single hand and work the hydraulic claw to fetch, dump, and return the can without even slowing down. Sometimes partners with…
Bag Boy. By day a Hy-Vee employee, at night he’s Bag Boy and can cram an entire garage full of junk into three Hefty Cinch Saks. Sample dialog: “Paper or plastic?”
Super Intendent. He keeps to himself, but when there’s trouble — like a burned-out bulb in the laundry room or a loud party — apartment tenants call Super Intendent and, yeah, he pretty much gets to it when he can.
Pizza Guy. Can leap over tall speed bumps (with a company car) at 30 mph. Able to get the pie to your door before the ash falls from his cigarette. Prank calls are his kryptonite. Sample dialog: “You want change back?”
Ring Girl and Wonder Bra. Together make a dynamic duo who work the crowd at otherwise boring boxing matches.
The Amazing Miracle Blade. Special power: can cut a work boot and still slice tomatoes paper-thin. Weakness: steel-toed work boots. Origins film ends with an old Ginsu knife claiming to be his father, but only his handler, Chef Tony, knows his true identity: a Chicago Cutlery factory second.