“The experience of watching Avengers: Age of Ultron — which is not just long but, in Iron Man’s words, ‘Eugene O’Neill long’ — runs as follows. First, you try to understand what the hell is going on. Then you slowly realize that you will never understand what is going on. And, last, you wind up with the distinct impression that, if there was anything to understand, it wasn’t worth the sweat. I gave up around the time that we were presented with something called the Mind Stone, yet another cosmic thingamajig, and apparently one of six ‘infinity stones,’ which sound like the kind of stuff that Bilbo Baggins would hawk on QVC.

“All of this is a bitter disappointment, not least because the movie was written and directed by Joss Whedon. He is a smart and witty operator, as was evident to anyone who saw Much Ado About Nothing, the deft little jeu d’esprit that he knocked off in between this dose of Avenging and the last. Now and then, in Age of Ultron, amid the pap about ‘molecular functionality,’ we get glimpses of what Whedon can do, as in the fine scene where Thor’s comrades attempt, in turn, to lift his mighty hammer.

“Could this be what it feels like to make a Marvel film, as you strive to free up the dead weight of all that cod-mythology? On the night I saw the movie, Whedon arrived to introduce it. ‘I’m really tired of it,’ he said. Everyone laughed, thinking that he was joking. Now I’m not so sure.” — from Anthony Lane‘s New Yorker review, included in 5.4.15 issue.