"Avengers: Age of Ultron" is a rip-roaring success. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), et al, know how to have a good time, as evidenced by the great time enjoyed by the audience. Writer/director Joss Whedon brings along his "A" game for this installment, and it doesn't disappoint.


Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, is bent on keeping the world safe, and establishing peace. He and Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), a.k.a. The Incredible Hulk, team up to perfect an artificial intelligence being, but are halted in their efforts by the uber-evil Ultron (voiced by the always-delightful James Spader). When Ultron enacts his nefarious plan, all of the Super Heroes, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), must spring into action to save the planet.


Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Iron Man's confidante, is not around this time, but Cobie Smulders returns as Agent Maria Hill, and does a terrific job picking up the slack. There are a couple of newbies, Russian twins, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. They are both awesome, possessing distinct powers of their own.


We have grown to really love these Marvel Comic characters. Though initially Stark's dalliance with Jarvis (voiced by Paul Bettany) causes some strife amongst the team, they come back together quickly to accomplish what they must.


There is also a great deal of ribbing going on, with barbs flying faster than Hawkeye's arrows. One truly hilarious scene has the heroes sitting around ultimately playing a sort of drinking game --- who can pick up Thor's hammer --- priceless. And it becomes even funnier later in the film, but I will not give that away.


Of course, the super pac is all well and good, but without a worthy adversary, none of this would be any fun. Whedon chose perfectly with Spader. He has the best delivery of just about anyone working in films or TV. The twinge of snarkiness in his voice is immediately recognizable --- and he's so very entertaining.


Though a couple of the battle scenes are a little too drawn out, always one of David and my biggest complaints, it doesn't detract from the enjoyment of watching "Avengers: Age of Ultron". The 3-D special effects are indeed special, and the writing is fast-paced and well done. Whedon has a winner!


Opinion: See It Now!




It doesn't matter to me where the plot is headed in superhero movies, it's essentially the same from one film to another. In "Avengers: Age of Ultron", lots of special effects have this motley crew showcasing their individual specialties, which we've all seen before.


The only thing that adequately distinguishes these films is the all-important banter that occurs during down time. Thanks to sequences like the one involving Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) hammer, jaded moviegoers can get some respite from the usually overlong battle scenes, a frequent complaint by me, and you know who.


The constantly wisecracking Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and occasional jabs from Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) stand out from the mostly serious demeanor of the rest. When Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) bemoans the fact he is fighting super powerful robots with a bow-and-arrow, it's a welcome sound bite of mortal humanity.


But let's give credit where it's due. The actors all look like they're working hard, even if it's only against a green backdrop. And Johannson and Hemsworth provide most of the eye candy, depending on your bent.


I'll leave it to Jeanne to spell out the key plot points and remaining cast members. I did like the addition of Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch. I'll even give her a passing grade on her Russian accent. But these days whenever I see Samuel L. Jackson on screen, I can't help but wonder what's in my billfold.


James Spader is never seen in the movie, only heard, as the robot Ultron, who clones an army of himself to try and take over the world. Spader's voice is unique in the sense that it can be interpreted as good or evil, depending on the character he is portraying. As Ultron, the ultimate bad guy, his voice is no different than his persona Red Reddington on TV's "The Blacklist".


"Avengers: Age of Ultron" will, of course, please its loyalists. But I will say our screening in 3-D added nothing to the entertainment value.


Opinion: Mild See It Now!