The Avengers may be Marvel's most powerful superhero series -- and with their movie, Marvel's biggest box-office hit and focal point for the plot threads begun in other Marvel movies.  Avengers: Age of Ultron brings the team back together for another round of saving the planet and battling their personal and team demons.
Age of Ultron starts with a bang, as the team -- Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) -- is attacking a Hydra base to obtain Loki's staff, and the Tesseract it contains,.  However, in addition to Hydra's weapons, they have a special project: the Maximoff twins.  Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) can move faster than the eye can see, while his sister Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) can throw energy bolts, read people's minds, and show them their worst fears.  The twins have a hatred of Tony Stark, and Wanda uses her power to show him the other Avengers all dead.

Thor wants to take the staff back, but Tony gets a few days to experiment on it.  He learns the Tesseract has a gem that has a sort of program, and he (with Bruce's help) wants to use it to make a program to protect the planet -- without telling his other teammates.  Unfortunately, it creates Ultron (voiced by James Spader), an artificial intelligence who wants to create "peace in our time" by driving the Avengers to extinction (and a lot more).

The rest of the movie is a combination of the Avengers fighting Ultron, his nigh-innumerable robot duplicates, and the twins -- as well as dealing with their fractured spirit after Wanda shows everyone but Hawkeye their fears.  There's also more fighting between Captain America and Iron Man, a possible romance between Bruce and Natasha, a lot mote character development for Hawkeye, and cameos from night-innumerable supporting characters from almost every other Marvel movie.  Oh, and Paul Bettany goes from being the voice of Jarvis to the character the Vision.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is both enjoyable and frustrating.  The regular cast is quite good as always, James Spader is suitably creepy as the evil robot, and the twins are decent (even if Olsen's character is almost all defined by her accent).  At the same time, the movie feels over-long at times, lots of characters "leave" when we know they'll be back for the sequel(s), and there's a bit too much slow-motion in the action sequences.  Avengers: Age of Ultron is entertaining, but it isn't as quotable, exciting, or fan-fantasy-fulfilling as, well, the last Avengers movie.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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