Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Avengers: Age of Ultron Is Certified Fresh

Plus, Far From the Madding Crowd is visually striking, and The Casual Vacancy is uneven.

by | April 30, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got just one wide release: the hotly-anticipated Marvel superhero extravaganza Avengers: Age of Ultron, starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Mark Ruffalo. What do the critics have to say?

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Marvel’s The Avengers was greeted with such overwhelmingly positive reviews that Avengers: Age of Ultron has a lot to live up to. And critics say that while Ultron isn’t quite up to its predecessor’s standard, it’s still robust blockbuster entertainment, an expert assemblage of beloved characters with enough loving detail and character quirks to withstand an occasionally overstuffed narrative. This time out, the Avengers — whose ranks include Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) — are pitted against Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a powerful robot with dangerous beliefs about the best way to achieve world peace. The critics say the Certified Fresh Avengers: Age of Ultron lacks the charm and lightness of its predecessor, but the cast is outstanding and the action set pieces are suitably epic. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we take a look at some of the lesser-known career highlights of the Avengers cast, and watch our video interviews with director Joss Whedon and a bunch of the stars.)

What’s On TV:

HBO’s adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy (57 percent) is mostly dull, heavy-handed, and predictable, although it possesses a few touching moments.

Instead of sly and shocking, Happyish (30 percent) comes off as shrill and self-satisfied, despite the efforts of its talented cast.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Albert MayslesIris, a documentary about the life and times of fashion maven Iris Apfel, is at 100 percent (watch our video interview with Apfel here).
  • In Country, a documentary about Vietnam War reenactors, is at 86 percent.
  • Far From the Madding Crowd, starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen in an adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel, is at 79 percent.
  • Marie’s Story, a drama about a nun who works tirelessly to communicate with a deaf and blind teenager, is at 78 percent.
  • Hyena, a British crime drama about a detective who becomes entangled in a turf war between rival drug trafficking organizations, is at 77 percent.
  • Far From Men, starring Viggo Mortensen in a drama about a schoolteacher who must accompany an accused murderer across the Algerian desert to stand trial, is at 75 percent.
  • Soul Boys Of The Western World, a documentary about 1980s new wave pop pioneers Spandau Ballet, is at 73 percent.
  • Welcome to Me, starring Kristen Wiig and Tim Robbins in a dramedy about a woman with borderline personality disorder who wins the lottery and proceeds to start her own talk show, is at 71 percent.
  • Reality, a dramedy about a would-be horror film director whose life is turned upside down when his producer demands that he find the perfect cinematic scream, is at 67 percent.
  • Days of Grace, a thriller featuring three intertwined stories involving criminal activity as World Cup fever grips Mexico, is at 63 percent.
  • Maya The Bee Movie, an animated adventure featuring the titular bee on a mission to save her hive from a plot against the queen, is at 56 percent.
  • Ride, starring Helen Hunt and Luke Wilson in a comedy about a magazine writer who follows her son to Los Angeles and embarks on a period of self-discovery, is at 53 percent.
  • Gerontophilia, a romantic comedy about a teenage boy who forms a close relationship with an older man while working at a retirement community, is at 50 percent.
  • Cas & Dylan, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany in a dramedy about a terminally ill man who ends up on a wild road trip after agreeing to give a lift to an aspiring writer, is at 33 percent.

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