Avengers: Age Of Ultron
Release Date: OUT NOW!
12A | 141 minutes Director: Joss Whedon Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, James Spader, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Aaron Taylor- Johnson
In more ways than one,
The Avengers was a landmark film. The culmination of Marvel’s multi- movie, universe- building experiment, it’s not overstating matters to say the future of superhero cinema rested on its spandex- clad shoulders.
The weight of expectation on Age Of Ultron may not be quite the same – at this stage if Marvel builds it the world will come, and they know it – but that hasn’t resulted in Whedon and co putting their feet up for the return of Earth’s mightiest. Quite the contrary. Age Of Ultron is Marvel’s most complex, ambitious and generally bloomin’ massive movie to date.
During an all- out assault on the last remaining Hydra fortress, where twins Wanda and Pietro Maximoff have been given extraordinary powers (“He’s fast, she’s weird”), the Avengers recover Loki’s mindaltering sceptre. After discovering the sceptre’s gem contains an AI of unparalleled power, modern Prometheus Tony Stark combines it with his Ultron initiative – a robotic peace force designed to render the Avengers obsolete. Before you can say HAL 9000 Ultron turns on his creator, deeming humanity itself the biggest threat to peace on Earth, and embarks on a good old- fashioned evil plan to expunge life from the planet.
Age Of Ultron is exactly one minute shorter than its predecessor, but crams so much more into that runtime you can’t help but marvel at what Whedon has achieved. The plate- spinning skills perfected with ensemble casts on Buffy, Firefly and Astonishing X- Men have never been put to better use. It’s a tale that takes the Avengers truly globetrotting, from Eastern European winter wonderlands to African cities bathed in a golden, magic hour glow. Almost every character gets their moment to shine and the plotting is meticulously tight, only occasionally falling victim to what must have been a brutal edit.
Hawkeye is the surprise show- stealer, with the first film’s weak link given an extra dimension that suddenly makes the character work. The cracks in Cap and Iron Man’s relationship come to the fore, a cautious set- up for Civil War, while Thor is plagued by Ragnarok- aluding visions of tragedies to come. Natasha and Bruce embark upon a romance that, though not the most satisfying direction in which to take those characters, has some touching moments if you’re willing to go with it. Key new player Quicksilver is lacking a watercooler slow- mo sequence to rival his Days Of Future Past counterpart but, along with Scarlet Witch, is at the heart of the film’s hero journey. And the Vision is a late addition to the team but a worthy one, his introduction topped with a moment that rivals “Puny god” for sheer crowd- pleasing gusto. Paul Bettany was the perfect choice to bring the naive yet supremely powerful being to life.
But what about Ultron? For all that Marvel has done right in the seven years since Iron Man, creating captivating antagonists is not one of them. Ultron, however, is the studio’s best big- screen villain since Loki, a twisted tin man with all the wisecracks, snark and smartest- manin- the- room swagger you’d expect from an AI with Stark DNA in his circuits. James Spader imbues the bot with gravitas, menace and a palpably sinister edge, warping the entire tone of the film.
Yes, Age Of Ultron is a very different beast to Avengers Assemble – deadly serious at times, with real emotional and psychological heft; the Maximoffs’ tragic backstory and Black Widow’s brutal training in particular are far from kidfriendly. But Ultron hasn’t lost its predecessor’s personality either, and in the face of impressive Hulk- busting, robot- swarming setpieces it’s the moments of quiet, endearing irreverence that stick in the mind after. The riotous party at Stark Tower is an undoubted highlight – we won’t be forgetting the look of satisfaction on Rhodey’s face after finally nailing his anecdote in a hurry.
It’s also a significantly slicker looking production. The first Avengers was shot in 1.85: 1, often giving the film an oddly televisual quality, but Age Of Ultron is a comic
The Alton Towers day out went from bad to worse.