AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

★★★

Dir: Joss Whedon (2015)

The jolly green Marvel giant continues to trash everything in sight with the second instalment of the Avengers series. With 11 Phase one and two Marvel universe films already out there in the world and at least 12 more on their way the history and plot lines of nearly all of them have converged in someway adding gleeful and complex twists and turns, harking back to the comic universes and even to films outside of the new juggernaut. 2012’s Avengers has, arguably been the highlight so far, becoming one of the biggest grossing films of all time; Brash, colourful, crazy and funny, Joss Whedon obviously revelled in the amount of toys at his disposal, turning the enormous film into a critically acclaimed crowd pleaser.

We rejoin the group of world saving superhero misfits as they storm a heavily guarded castle to snatch back Loki’s sceptre; The team leaping through the gunfire in unison in super-slow motion is a real smile cracking moment and Age of Ultron is full of them; But this time, as Stark (Iron Man) and Banner (Hulk) attempt to use the sceptre for good with disastrous consequences, the colours are more muted, the humour doesn’t hit the mark quite as often and the number of characters jostling for screen time is often detrimental to the flow of the story. With James Spader‘s Ultron, a gleaming 10 foot tall robot, magically appearing as a manifestation of coded AI found within the stone, Whedon and The Avengers head into another flurry of exploding robots and tumbling skylines, cracking wise the whole way.

Newcomers Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) as Russian twins who lost their parents at the hands of Stark technology first hinder and then help the cause as Whedon’s script focuses, reframes and refocuses again on Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), both, and then, remarkably and to best effect, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner almost steeling the film with one of its least powerful characters). It’s machine gun fire film making with a lot of misses but in the spirit of the first film the number of shots fired is a feat in itself. By the time Ultron reveals his dastardly world peace plan gone wrong Whedon’s got you hooked again with a remarkable final battle on a floating city. Inventive, silly and really great fun.

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