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"Avengers: Age of Ultron": Killer Robots, Dude 

Wednesday, Apr 29 2015
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is here to stay — so let's stop calling them "unnecessary sequels," please — but Joss Whedon's second installment of the franchise tent pole, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is loud, fluffy, and rather unsatisfying. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is back in the suit after seemingly giving up heroics in Iron Man 3, and the status-quo-rattling events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier are mostly brushed aside as well. The latest threat is Ultron (James Spader), a Stark-built robot who decides to save humanity by destroying it. Age of Ultron raises moral and ethical questions without addressing them head-on like The Winter Soldier did so well, though civilian deaths are reckoned with in a way seldom seen in modern superhero movies. The spectacle is of course top-notch, but the non-stop, wink-wink quipping of Whedon's scripts are more grating than ever, and none of dude-centric drama is as compelling as the strong female characters of Skye and May in the concurrent season of Marvel's series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which Ultron also ignores, lacking even a Coulson cameo). And not only is there tension among certain male Avengers about who'll get to nail Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), she eventually needs rescuing, because ugh. Turns out the best work in the MCU is happening on the small screen.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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