Avengers: Age of Ultron

★★★½

As a former comic book enthusiast who used to bemoan that Hollywood wasn’t making enough movies based on comics, I have mixed feelings now that every second movie that comes out in theatres is a comic book movie. But one thing I can say is that Marvel Studios consistently gets it right with the properties over which they have full creative control (the uneven X-men, Spider-Man and Fantastic Four franchises were licensed to other studios before Marvel formed its own movie-making division).

This second outing for the Avengers, made up of core members Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk, is good, almost as good as the first film. Not only is the story interesting and the dialogue, delivered by a cadre of excellent actors, funny, but they have somehow stepped up the special effects quality normally associated with these kind of movies. The intricately choreographed action scenes that would have been a jumbled mess in lesser hands are a delight, particularly for old comic enthusiasts, as several scenes seem specifically designed to resemble live action “splash pages”.

Less welcome is an interlude designed to develop Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye character that is a snooze. Like the X-men series, The Avengers will begin to run the risk of character overload, and will have to make some smart choices. A most welcome new presence is Aaron Taylor-Johnson as speedster Quicksilver, who steals his scenes with nothing but a snug track suit and an Eastern European accent.

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