May 11, 2016
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Grade: 52/100

Director: Joss Whedon
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo

What it's about. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) spend too much time in the lab and inadvertently create an evil robot, Ultron (James Spader), who accesses the internet to become omnipresent and plot the world's destruction.

Naturally, Ultron must be stopped. This requires a team effort; all the Marvel comics superheroes, or at least a bunch of them, pitch in. Stark gets to wear his Iron Man flying robot suit, and Banner transforms into the Hulk, a huge and destructive green guy. Scarlett Johansson plays the latter's unconvincing love interest and rides a motorcycle. Shield-fixated Captain America (Chris Evans) shows up but doesn't get to do much. Same goes for the sledgehammer-fixated Thor (Chris Hemsworth). The Falcon (Anthony Mackie), another flying suit wearer, has a minimal role.

Aiding Ultron, at least for a while, are the Twins, a super speedy guy in a pastel leopard suit (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), who can warp minds and project force or something. Eventually, the Twins figure out that Ultron is evil (what took them so long?) and join up with the Avengers (Stark and company) against Ultron.

Meanwhile, Stark and Banner create yet another sentient robot, The Vision (Paul Bettany), who proves more human-friendly than their previous concoction Ultron.

The finale involves a levitated county that Ultron plans to drop from a great height on Earth, wiping it out much like a meteor killed the dinosaurs 60 million years ago. Naturally, the Avengers and the Vision put a stop to this. That was a close one! I was so worried.

How others will see it. Avengers: Age of Ultron had an enormous 250M budget, but its theater gross, in America alone, was double that figure. The critics mostly looked the other way, and the movie was ignored by the Oscars and Golden Globes, even in technical categories. It did, however, secure second place from the Golden Schmoes for Most Overrated Movie, "losing" to Jurassic World.

At, Ultron has a spectacular 436K user ratings, and the user rating of 7.5 confirms that the public is entertained. As expected, the user ratings deline moderately with advancing age, from 8.1 under age 18 to 7.3 over age 45. Surprisingly, women like it more than do men, although the gender gap decreases among older viewers. Women are apparently intrigued by the two most important female characters, played by Scarlett Johansson and Elizabeth Olsen.

How I felt about it. This film is certainly lesser than its predecessor in the lucrative franchise, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. All the Marvel superheroes are dumped in, and thus they all have to carve out their small subplot. But there are clearly too many superheroes, and in this case, more is less.

Once again, we have a villain who seeks to destroy the world in order to save it. But the body count is just one: Marvel's version of DC Comics' The Flash, or Marvel's own Quicksilver. The villain is an eight-foot robot that talks big (and says too much) but doesn't actually accomplish anything other than levitating a county and spawning an arm of easily defeated robots.

Structurally, the plot is reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. The robot army becomes the Orcs. The Fellowship of the Ring becomes the Avengers. Ultron is Sauron, an evil force who seeks to destroy all humanoids. The MacGuffin is the magic touch stone or some such object, found in an alien sword or something, which once implanted in a robot makes it become a trash talker.

Comparing Ultron with The Winter Soldier, the latter was better because it was simpler. Captain America is merely an enhanced fighter, and his opponent is the same. Hydra is bogus, but less so than Ultron, who can generate an army of would-be killer robots apparently by snapping his fingers, and otherwise does nothing because he can't access nuclear launch codes.

We notice that every woman in the film is beautiful. What happens to all of the older and unattractive women? Will Dr. Helen Cho be forced into retirement when she gains ten pounds or turns forty?