‘The Avengers’ assembles

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Summer blockbuster season arrived last weekend with the opening of Marvel’s “The Avengers” sequel, “Age of Ultron.”

This movie has a lot to live up to. Not only will it undoubtedly be held to the high standards of the first movie, but it sets in motion a lot of different moving parts that will ultimately tie together in the upcoming onslaught of Marvel diversions. So, does this stepping stone keep people excited for the franchise to get bigger?

Perhaps it was the euphoria of finally seeing these heroes in the same movie for the first time that colors my impression of the first Avengers, but this one is not as good. It is by no means a bad movie — surely it fits the bill of a polished action-packed popcorn flick — but it feels bloated.

The sheer number of characters to keep track of (which is only beginning to grow) is hectic and often over-stimulating. That the camera jumps frenetically between them during their concurrent fight scenes doesn’t help matters. Other than the main holdovers of the first Avengers, it’s hard for someone who hasn’t read any comic books or seen every recent film to understand exactly who these people are and how they fit in the overarching Marvel universe. Part of the whole, cool synergy of the Marvel umbrella is seeing how every little thing comes into play, but it only really works for the characters who have their own films.

But the cool factor is still there. Sure, some of the lines are corny and the plot is as over-the-top as anything, but getting hung up on it defeats the purpose. The actors have excellent chemistry — although some minor tweaks in traits and relationships seem silly and cliche — but they make you feel like there are real friendships to fight for. It’s an enjoyable universe to observe, for sure.

Ultron, for example, is great. The voice and character blend seamlessly and the eight-foot robot menace looks good on screen. I do wish he was given a bigger part from a seriousness standpoint, as most of his dialog seemed to consist of self-aware jokes about how he is a robot.

I wonder how it will hold up in subsequent viewings. The amount of things taking place at once makes it a bit of an ordeal, so it could either deter people from seeing it multiple times, or encourage them to return for every little piece they missed. Either way, this movie is a necessary step for the upcoming Marvel universe and worth a watch on its own. It’s fun and ridiculous, with some real visual and theatrical gems to observe.

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