When I saw AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON, the final trailer shown before the movie was for STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. When the first note and image appeared on screen (the Lucasfilm logo) the packed house went bananas, cheering wildly and even screaming for joy when Han and Chewy show up at the end of the trailer. This is a cautionary tale. The original STAR WARS trilogy is epic. The prequels were much anticipated but sucked harder than any three movies ever made. So, all that could be a cautionary tale for Marvel’s flagship franchise. Be careful, expectations are dangerous business. Rest easy, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is not even close to Phantom Menace level suckitude. In some ways, I liked it better than THE AVENGERS. Yeah, I know you’re saying, “hold on there Alan, have you lost your mind?” Maybe I have. I went back and read my review of THE AVENGERS and I still agree with much of what I wrote. AGE OF ULTRON goes in a slightly different direction. It’s not so much about trying to bring these outsized egos together for the greater good. They are already a team. But how strong is the team? Will Tony Stark’s ego tear it all apart? Will demons from each of their pasts undermine their mission to save the world? I think you can probably guess the answer to all of that. We are introduced to three new characters: Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver and a third which I won’t reveal to not give up a spoiler. There is heart here that I don’t recall from the first film. Making these heroes somewhat vulnerable only enhances their hero status. There is also more of Hawkeye, which means there is more Jeremy Renner. Never a bad thing. The voice and slight motion capture that James Spader brings to Ultron make him a great villain, a “good” guy turned bad by his demented vision. There are also comments on war and technology throughout. The addition of Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) is fantastic. Like I pointed out in my review of the original, casting great actors simply makes for a better movie. There were moments where I found my jaw on the floor. I think that’s saying something, when a film in a genre where you think you’ve seen everything, can still amaze and surprise you. All credit to Joss Whedon for making another fantastic film and to Kevin Feige for having the vision to run with it. Up next, ANT-MAN and THE FANTASTIC FOUR. It’s going to be a fun, hero-filled summer!. — Alan Yudman

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