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'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Review

In the opening sequence of Marvel Studios' latest film, "Avengers: Age of Ultron," the superheroes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Incredible Hulk show what teamwork is all about.

As the group closes in on a highly protected fortress of Hydra evildoing in the fictional (and Eastern European-sounding) country of Sokovia, they each use their particular talents — strength, martial arts, beyond-incredible tools like hammers, shields and iron suits — to support the rest of the team.

They know each other so well, after their initial meeting in "The Avengers" (2012), also written and directed by Joss Whedon, they even get in some good, old-fashioned ribbing along the way. (Parents of teens might get a particular kick out of a running joke involving the mildly foul-mouthed superheroes.)

So when Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, (played by Robert Downey Jr.) decides basically on his own to use Loki's scepter recovered from the Hydra fortress to create the being Ultron as a peace-keeping entity, that's when things start to go sideways.

After all, was he really thinking about the team — or himself?

Ultron (played by the slick-voiced James Spader in a motion-capture suit), of course, has his own agenda. And that agenda involves the extinction of not only the Avengers but also everyone on Earth.

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To say that there are a lot of battle scenes in the PG-13-rated "Avengers" would be an understatement. There are so many battles, in fact, that it's almost hard to keep track. And a violent rampage by the Incredible Hulk late in the film, when he acts as basically a one-man bulldozer for the city of Johannesburg, South Africa, might have some parents explaining anger management to their children. (Although, with all the action sequences and special effects, you can readily see why this film reportedly cost a whopping $250 million.)

What was particularly nice to see in the film were all of the strong female characters, including Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), mind-twister twin Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), intelligence agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and scientist Dr. Helen Cho (Claudia Kim). These ladies know how to stand their ground against some literally superhuman opponents and colleagues.

And while there is explosive action throughout most of the movie, there are also tender moments between characters such as Black Widow and the Hulk, Hawkeye and someone the Avengers didn't know existed, and between Tony Stark/Iron Man and the rest of his wary team.

Because when you get your team into a cataclysmic mess, it's always good to help them get out of it.

"The Avengers" (PG-13, 141 min.) opens May 1.

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