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In Marvel’s latest blockbuster, Avengers: Age of Ultron, the titular team of superheroes must defeat a robot of advanced artificial intelligence, Ultron (a well-cast James Spader), who is set on wiping out the human race at any cost. The Avengers must cope with conflicts within their ranks and also deal with Pietro and Wanda Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen twins with mysterious and dangerous powers.
Though Ultron’s catchphrase is “I’ve got no strings on me,” the same cannot be said for the film. Age of Ultron’s main problem stems from the heavy constraints placed upon it — the elaborate plans for the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) make it hard to enjoy the film and do the characters justice. Because there is so much continuity between the different films and television shows in the MCU, there is less room for director Joss Whedon to tell the story his way, as everything needs to fit into place for the rest of the franchise. There are many hints about the future of the Avengers, but knowing where the story is headed next detracts from the fun.
The chemistry among the Avengers is satisfying, but it lacks the dynamic we saw in the first film. This is due to the conflicts that have developed between team members since the Avengers first assembled and Whedon’s difficult task of developing the already-large cast of characters, incorporating new ones and balancing screen time for the huge ensemble. The Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye all have developed storylines this time around; Whedon redefines Tony Stark’s character after his so-so solo in Iron Man 3. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, despite their forced Russian accents and bland backstory, bring needed tension and energy to the team.
Despite its flaws, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a fun popcorn movie with substance and punch.The film looks and sounds great, communicates a story of power and fear, and is a genuine crowd-pleaser.