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September 2015

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

cast: Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, and Mark Ruffalo

director: Joss Whedon
136 minutes (12) 2015
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Disney blu-ray region B

RATING: 9/10
review by Christopher Geary

Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Yesteryear's fantasy is today's hyper-reality, and super-cinema offers a magnificently spectacular combo of modern character-based dramas, 21st century moral dilemmas, and heroic action. Although Marvel's primary response team is deployed for a largely wholesome international adventure with a worldview of honour, decency, and justice, this witty sequel is a trial between chaos and order for those called to avenge losses of life and liberty. The on-going narrative development of this exploding franchise revels in exploring science fictional variants of mythological archetypes and telling allusions to episodes of recent history.

Inventor extraordinaire Tony Stark wants to expand upon notions of the Reagan era's SDI/ 'Star Wars' with a hasty inception of an A.I./ Singularity for global "peace in our time." The result is mad robot Ultron - a clanking system that cycles through Internet links and iterational upgrades of sophistication with an artificial being 'the Vision' of/ as its ultimate android form. As in Man Of Steel, there's an actual 'birth' scene for the new hero. But here a Vision of man's future is created from an unpredictable fusion of elements - rare vibranium alloy, synthetic flesh, computer-program J.A.R.V.I.S, and a shock of Asgardian lightning - boiling off doubts of happenstance possibilities in a hi-tech cradle of versatility.

Frankenstein and Pinocchio quotes are balanced astutely, so this newest addition to the Avengers line-up boasts a considerable impact on the epic movie despite the Vision having less than ten minutes of screen-time. Another pair of meta-human characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, are also introduced here, and their more fateful journey from twisted vengeance - as victims of US foreign policy in eastern Europe, to purposeful agents of miraculous salvation for their native Sokovia, drives the politically-aware plot to a climactic battle against Ultron's horde of drones.

There are differences to the comicbook canon, where Ultron was originally created by another scientist, Henry Pym (now getting his own greatly revised screen-origin story in this year's Ant-Man movie), and the 'flying city' of the climax looks borrowed from the 1970s' Avengers comics (#158) story about super-villain Graviton. But all of these changes are welcome alternatives to existing lore, re-wiring the Marvel mega-universe circuitry for post-cyberpunk currency to emerge, now fully evolved, from some rather less intellectually or emotionally challenging material, while preserving a fantastically imaginative content (we are not alone!) which always made the Avengers comics such great fun.



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