AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON – Review by Susan Granger

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Good News: If you’re looking for POW! BAM! SMASH! cartoonish action, you get your money’s worth. Bad News: Juggling a kaleidoscope of superheroes, as Tony Stark/Iron Man says, “It’s long – Eugene O’Neill long.” You’d better know your “Avengers” franchise history because this new installment begins mid-mission, Read on…

as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Bruce Banner/the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) battle a battalion of H.Y.D.R.A. bad guys to capture Loki’s scepter with its powerful Infinity Stone.

What’s Ultron? A sparkly computer program, concocted as a global protection system by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. What emerges, instead, is a rogue, red-eyed, megalomaniacal A.I. colossus, drolly voiced by James Spader, mockingly humming Pinocchio’s “No Strings” anthem as a menacing mantra and viewing humans as the world’s biggest threat.

In the battle-riddled, Eastern European country of Slovenia, there’s subplot introducing ‘gifted’ twins: Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) who become elusive Quicksilver and mind-manipulating Scarlet Witch. Appearing mid-way, an angelic android, Vision (Paul Bettany), synthesizes the consciousness of Tony Stark’s devoted helpmate J.A.R.V.I. S.

Writer/director Joss Whedon punctuates the FX-driven mayhem with an ongoing flirtation between Black Widow and Bruce Banner, along with dream-like flashbacks showing the character conflict of each squad member confronting his/her flaws and/or failings.

There are glib quips, like Hawkeye’s pregnant wife’s earnest, “You know, I totally support your avenging…” and campy, irreverent humor when various Avengers try to lift Thor’s hammer.

For an exhausting 2½ hours, it’s repetitive sound and fury – yes, I mean cranky Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in the S.H.I.E.L.D. carrier, along with Anthony Mackie as The Falcon. As always, there’s a hint of what’s to come during closing credits.

When Joss Whedon introduced this enormous Marvel assemblage to the press, he confessed, “I’m really tired of it.” Was he joking? I doubt it.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a spectacularly overstuffed 6 – with more spectacle than substance.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.