Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron April 22, 2015 AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (USA/12A/141mins) Directed by Joss Whedon. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Linda Cardellini, Hayley Atwell, Elizabeth Olsen, Cobie Smulders, James Spader, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba. THE PLOT: In a bid to make the Avengers redundant, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) sets about making global peacekeeping androids, named project Ultron. When Ultron comes into contact with Loki’s sceptre, however, it becomes self aware and bent on destruction. Of course, it is up to the Avengers to take him down. THE VERDICT: With the first Avengers movie, way way back in 2012, Joss Whedon not only made a fun, funny and exhilarating movie, but he also cemented himself in the hearts and minds of Marvel fans everywhere. This time out, however, it seems that Whedon’s gruelling schedule has taken something of a toll on the writer/director, as some of his trademark sparkle is absent. The gang is all back, and on spectacular form for Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron, and new additions to the cast work well in terms of the story. Elizabeth Olsen plays Scarlet Witch, and does well with the role, making the character loyal and strong, while also creepy and scary. Aaron Taylor-Johnson does less well as Quicksilver; not only is he in the shadow of Evan Peters, who played the character wonderfully in X-Men: Days of Future Past, but he seems rather disengaged from the role, and his recurring joke becomes as irritating as his chewy accent. James Spader does incredibly well in bringing the righteous and violent Ultron to life; his voice drips malice and he is definitely a worthy foe, he just feels less solid than Loki in Avengers Assemble, perhaps because Loki had a chance to ramp up through Thor. Whedon’s script starts out truly Whedon-esque; the opening set piece is a rollercoaster that soon gives way to plenty of silly giggles. It’s not long, however, before the film becomes almost entirely wrapped up in the action at hand, and forgets that the Marvel films are almost always infused with a sense of fun and laughter. That’s not to say that the film stops being fun, it just loses its sense of humour. Also, there is a love story injected into the mix that seems to come from nowhere, and disappear as soon as its not needed. As director, Whedon keeps the pace of the film fast and fun, with the film rolling from set piece to set piece, with only a brief let up in the middle for some dialogue and bonding. This gives the film a sense of urgency, but it also means that eventually, the set pieces begin to blur together. The film is well shot, however, and Whedon painstakingly ensures that we know enough about Ultron and his intentions that he feels like a credible threat, just not a particularly familiar one. In all, Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron is a worthy follow up to the films that have gone before, and neatly sets the stage for the next Marvel tsunami that is already on the horizon. Some of the new characters work better than others, but the ensemble works incredibly well. Whedon’s trademark banter and humour sometimes gets lost among the scale and scope of the film, but Marvel Avengers: Age of Ultron ends up being almost as much fun as the one that went before, if slightly drawn out. Rating: 4/5 Review by Brogen Hayes Marvel Avengers: Age of UltronReview by Brogen Hayes2015-04-224.0Fast & fun! filmbuff2011 Grossing $1.5bn three years ago, Avengers Assemble sits comfortably at third on the biggest box office hits of all time. It’s not hard to imagine that its lively sequel Avengers: Age Of Ultron will surpass this. Here’s a sequel that manages to build and improve on the original, while correcting many of its predecessors minor flaws (e.g. not enough Hawkeye). That attention to care is admirable and it’s also darn good fun too. The Avengers are now officially a working team: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). We catch up with them as they take out a HYDRA castle and retrieve Loki’s spear. Tony Stark is developing a sentient artificial intelligence embodied in a robot called Ultron (voiced by James Spader) for peacekeeping duties, to protect Earth from outside forces. But his plans go wrong when Ultron becomes uncontrollable and escapes from the lab and into the Internet. Ultron has plans of his own, to destroy his creator (he has daddy issues, obviously) and the rest of the Avengers. With the help of gifted but destructive twins Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), he reveals that he has much bigger plans than just destroying the Avengers. He’s no fool and is seemingly indestructible, transferring his consciousness to another robot in his ever-growing army. It will take more than the Avengers to take Ultron down… Returning to the Marvel fold once again, director Joss Whedon keeps the magic formula of the first film, while consistently jazzing it up to often thrilling effect. We get moments of petty rivalry and bickering between the Avengers, but we also get moments of friendship and loyalty. There’s even a budding romance between Hulk and Black Widow which is nicely played. And yes, Hawkeye is given an expanded role this time, with some unexpected character moments. A highlight of the film has to be when Scarlet Witch affects Hulk’s mind, so he goes on the rampage and only Iron Man’s Hulk Buster can keep him under control. If you thought that the New York finale in the previous film was something spectacular, wait till you see what Whedon has in store here. He’s a skilled storytelling juggler, as once again he builds up to a barnstorming finale and even adds more characters from the previous Marvel films. Yet he doesn’t drop the ball, keeping all the characters in check as they face off against Ultron one last time. Speaking of which, Spader’s voicework is excellent here. He lends his villain a sense of menace and a sense of humour too that makes him a formidable foe. Avengers: Age Of Ultron could have gone down the ‘dark sequel’ route, but Whedon knows better. This is just pure, undiluted fun – an action-packed popcorn film that works on every level while leaving you wanting more. And more there is, with Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 due in 2018. There’s a brief tease for that mid-credits, though there’s no funny end-credit scene for the fans (boo). An all-round winner from Marvel, Whedon and the cast and crew. **** David Moran Loved it! So much action, witty dialogue and messing with the audiences plot expectations … So good … I’ll be seeing it again . (Oh and James Spader is just perfect … He just drips with malevolence and madness) emer The action-adventure Disney movie “Avengers Assemble” was the third highest grossing film of all time, how do you top a $1.5 billion commercial behemoth like that? Writer-director Joss Whedon showed remarkable skill by bringing together a series of modern comic books to the screen with equal parts snappy banter and awe-inspiring mayhem. This film was partly devoted to introducing the superheroes to each other, and much of the drama and humour came from them trying to learn to work together as a unified fighting force. There will be no bigger movie this summer than the ambitious follow up: “Avengers: Age Of Ultron”, in which Whedon takes a more humanistic, emotional and darker direction than the first time around. It may not have the novelty and giddy excitement of the first movie but Whedon and his star-studded cast of Earth’s mightiest heroes deliver special effects, adventure, laughs, action and spectacle that ensures it more than lives up to its predecessor. With “Fantastic Four” and “Star Wars” on the horizon, Whedon has set a high watermark. “Avengers: Age Of Ultron” begins with the Avengers hurtling through a frozen forest. Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are storming the castle of Baron Strucker (Thomas Krestchmann), the last uncaptured agent of the terrorist group Hydra who have in their possession a crystal of immense importance. It is a superb opening sequence with admirable camera work and stunning visual effects. The plot that follows is that Tony Stark is witness to a dark omen of world destruction. This terrifying dream rattles him so much that it compels him to follow through on an old idea – the Ultron peacekeeping initiative. This would take Stark’s Iron Man droid force to the next level and keep Earth safe from outside invaders, far better than the Avengers could. He enlists the help of an unconvinced but amiable Bruce Banner (The Hulk – Mark Ruffalo) to create this new peacekeeper. However, his artificial intelligence accidentally results in the formulation of a malevolent evil monster – Ultron (brilliantly voiced by James Spader). Ultron has goals of his own – he emerges hating his creators and begins infiltrating the world’s computers and assembling his own mechanical army to erase humanity. Aiding Ultron are two former lieutenants of Strucker’s, the genetically altered twins – psychic Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and super-fast Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). Wanda has the ability to trigger her victims’ greatest fears, and can put them in a mindscape where they can see their greatest terrors vividly around them as if they were real. She uses this skill on each Avenger who is forced to relive their greatest anxieties and awakens their worst fears and nightmares. Ultron first wants to destroy the Avengers and so begins his reign of terror and destruction on the world. This puts the team through their biggest test to date – can they can band together to save mankind? The attack weakens the team who begin to question if they are valuable to society as a team but the fate of humanity is resting in their precarious hands. All the while different members of the team wrestle with their own issues. Stark has to contend with his guilt about the lucrative weapons company his family created, Captain America must continue to cope with the fact that everyone he knew from the 1940s is gone, Banner is still struggling with his condition, and the tentative romantic relationship between Black Widow (a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff) and the Hulk (a.k.a. Bruce Banner) is problematic because of his inability to control his rage-induced transformation into a monster. This is very much a character-driven film and the enormous, capable cast nicely settles into their own individual heroic roles, laden with their own strengths and burdens, each has his/her own personality. The sharp, witty dialogue keeps the pace swift, lively and fun. Downey remains a narcisstic, smart ass as Stark, Evans maintains Captain America’s decency, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Evans enjoy a special on-field camaraderie while Mark Ruffalo is excellent as the troubled and introspective Dr Bruce Banner who has some nice chemistry and flirting scenes with Johhansson. Renner’s Hawkeye struggles to compete with the heroes around him but we do get a deeper backstory to his character which emphasizes his importance to the team. James Spader does a good job voicing the devious Ultron whose bold arrogance plays off nicely against Stark, who is sort of his mirror image in a way. Even the newcomers, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and The Vision (Paul Bettany) are given sufficient development to guarantee audience interest. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a mindblowing and compelling spectacle of energy and fun. Action fans will definitely feel they got their money’s worth. At two and a half hours, it is long but the structure holds and it flies by at speed. The direction is consistently vibrant and fresh, even when the plot descends into a pretty typical big monster finale. In a large part, for me it was the sparky interplay between the different characters, rather than the world crisis they’re trying to defuse, that kept me engaged and entertained. Whedon is great at mixing the characters and watching them bounce off and react to each other. The attention to personal triumphs and tragedies deserves admiration, not an easy task in such a largely action-driven movie. Disney’s box office tills will be roaring! Joseph McCarthy The original Avengers set an incredibly high bar, and it wasn’t until Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy that Marvel’s Phase Two really found its feet. While Phase One was about introducing superheroes into the real world, Phase Two was the real world reacting to having superheroes in it, and the heroes reacting to the real world – Tony Stark went from being a billionaire industrialist to a soldier, without being prepared for the consequences of fighting in a war. With Phase Two almost complete, the Avengers have once again assembled to take down evil at the beginning of the film, but Stark and Banner have long wondered if there was a better way, a scientific way, of ending conflict which led to the development (and eventual abandonment) of the Ultron project. After recovering Loki’s sceptre, the project is restarted, leading to the creation of their newest enemy Ultron. AOU never feels as entertaining as the first film, but is a far more intelligent film asking questions of the team, their interactions and ultimately their existence as a force for good.