“Avengers: Age of Ultron”: Do Less

Avengers

Age of Ultron is a fine title, but I might have called the Avengers sequel Age of A Lot. There’s a lot happening in this movie. A lot of characters, a lot of intersecting storylines, a lot of pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo, a lot of special effects, a lot of action, a lot of incident, a lot of a lot. Meanwhile, in short supply: imagination, variation, respite.

I enjoyed watching it, but I haven’t really enjoyed thinking about it afterwards. Mostly because I’m not sure my brain can handle the convoluted machinations that drive nearly every scene of this ultra- (ultron?)-long, ultra-confusing behemoth. It doesn’t need a little less talk and a lot more action – it needs a little less of all of the above.

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“Thor: The Dark World”: Holy Competence

Thor: The Dark World

There’s nothing especially wrong with Thor: The Dark World, the latest in a seemingly endless string of Marvel projects leading up to the megalith The Avengers 2. The special effects are serviceable, the story moves along at an enjoyable clip and the performances are almost uniformly solid.

But there’s nothing especially right about it either. Needless convolutions cloud an already questionable narrative. Natalie Portman’s love interest Jane Foster is as bland and underwritten as any character of her kind in recent memory. Director Alan Taylor offers little visual distinction from Kenneth Branagh’s appealing but forgettable original. A week from now, give or take a Tom Hiddleston or a Kat Dennings, nearly everything that happens in Thor: The Dark World will be a distant memory.

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