Avengers: Age of Ultron

Expectations for a movie have never been higher than they are for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

After the huge success of “The Avengers” in 2012 and all the films that preceded and followed it, a chance to see these heroes share the big screen once again is something that is sure to entice millions of people into the theater again.

And not wanting those viewers to leave disappointed, the sequel has to be even more of a spectacle, right?

So, how do you top one of the most ambitious films of all time? Add more characters, add more action, have a worthy villain and make sure the story leaves people interested in the forthcoming films.

In a nutshell, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” accomplishes that.

Fans of these characters will leave satisfied and enticed. Probably not as much as they were after leaving “The Avengers” in 2012, but close.

“Age of Ultron” manages to feel epic despite all its moving parts.

There’s a bit of a corner that Marvel has painted itself into.

There’s very little drama or dread tied to this movie. Because Marvel Studios has already announced a slew of sequels for the foreseeable future, one can assume most of these characters are probably going to survive Ultron’s attacks. This movie is also given the unenviable task of weaving in its own story around the set up for not only its own sequels but the sequels for its individual characters’ solo film sequels.

That’s a lot of weight to put on a movie, but director Joss Whedon handles it well. Fans will still be able to lose themselves in Marvel’s cinematic universe.

This time around, the story focuses on Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce “Hulk” Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and their efforts to adapt an alien technology into a program that will protect earth from alien threats.

Unfortunately, the technology gains sentience in the form of Ultron (James Spader), who decides that the only way to protect the planet is to exterminate human life, forcing it to evolve. 

It’s great to see the Avengers back together after a handful of Marvel movies and TV shows that have seen them involved in separate stories.

Whedon does well balancing the larger cast. While giving the big three: Iron Man, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) their time on screen, the director also puts a bigger spotlight on the characters that have yet to have their own solo film — Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hulk — and introducing a trio of new characters: Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Don Cheadle and Anthony Mackie also reprise their respective roles as War Machine and Falcon.

Wow! That’s a big cast, right? No wonder the movie has a 141-minute runtime.

It all works, though. Sure, there are a few spots that drag as well as few that seem clunky, but all-in-all “Age of Ultron” is a fun superhero adventure.

It also serves as a superb jumping-off spot from the upcoming sequels and solo films.

I predict that “Age of Ultron” will be another “win” for Marvel Studios, and because of the way the movie is set up, it will get people buzzing for what’s to come. 

Is there any bigger compliment you could give a movie?

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence and destruction, and for some suggestive comments. 

It is currently playing at both the Branson IMAX Entertainment Complex on the IMAX screen and at the Branson Meadows Cinema in both 2D and 3D.

Showtimes at the IMAX are 2 and 7 p.m.

Showtimes at the Branson Meadows Cinema are 12:30, 3:30 and 6:30 in 2D, and 1, 4 and 7 p.m. in 3D.

For more information visit either bransonimax.com or bransonmeadowscinema11.com.

 

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