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Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Occasional flashes of wit relieve the endless succession of explosive special effects in this so-so sequel. When a supposedly peaceable tech project uber-engineer, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), has been working on goes awry, the other members of the Avengers team -Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) - must battle to save humanity from the artificial-intelligence villain (voice of James Spader) their colleague has inadvertently created. This evil self-replicating robot is aided by superpower-wielding twins (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) who nurse a long-standing grudge against the film's ensemble of good guys. In following up on his 2012 Marvel Comics-based adventure "The Avengers," writer-director Joss Whedon keeps the mayhem stylized. But his script's approach to its under-realized theme weighing human freedom against the blessings of tranquility is muddled. The proceedings are further dinged - and rendered inappropriate for youngsters - by a number of less-than-heroic exclamations and a couple of ill-considered jokes.

Watch out for: Pervasive but bloodless violence, brief irreverent and anti-Catholic humor, fleeting sexual banter and some crude and crass language.

Rated: A-III, adults; MPAA: PG-13, parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015