Avengers: Age of Ultron review

The Avengers, smashing up a city centre near you right now. It’s a second visit to the lives of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and the eleventh instalment in the most ambitious screen franchise ever. Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, The Hulk and Hawkeye continue their fight against the evil of Hydra; in the distant hope victory will facilitate their parting.

Whilst self-obsessed billionaire Iron Man might strut around with a brain the size of a planet, he’s blessed with the common sense of a wasp banging the inside of a window. Faced with the possibility of developing artificial intelligence he blithely forges ahead, unwittingly creating a force that could end mankind. Only Robert Downey Jr could carry off this part with such aplomb. The character is a massive knob, but there’s still something inherently loveable about him.

Director Joss Whedon is at the top of his game here. Even when sequences hit their most frenetic and crazy, they still retain a strong sense of narrative. It never becomes too much, even during the completely preposterous third act. You’re happy to go with everything, simply because everything is so well balanced. The more eager fans will even catch several nods to classic frames from the various comic books nestling amongst the action. Proof enough the director has nothing but love and admiration for the source material.

The characters without titles in the franchise are the ones receiving the most character development. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye even sees his home life revealed. Black Widow and Hulk seem to be finding solace in their shared position as outsiders. The latter prospering from the cameras focus not landing squarely on his massive green shoulders. Much as he is an interesting character, no director has painted his torment as well as Whedon. Now the Hulk is allowed to simmer away in the background, making his epic temper tantrums all the more foreboding. The former remains without a series of films. It’s bizarre considering Scarlett Johansson is without question the biggest talent here. So once again she’s side-lined to propping up the boys’ insecurities, providing all the best gags and saving the day on several occasions.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen make a cracking debut as super twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. It nice to see Witch’s costume has been given a 20th century makeover. No longer does she have to suffer wearing her hyper-sexualised bathing suit.

Chris Evans’ Captain America is visibly unsettled with his position as the de facto leader of the group. From being a flag waving pinup, to acting as the fix-it guy for the technically-omnipotent SHIELD, he’s suffering a crisis of identity. Now his employers have been ripped apart by the hand of fascism, he’s beginning to question what freedom really means, after fighting for it all his adult life. It’s a theme likely to continue for a few films yet.

So really Avengers: Age of Ultron has got it all… Plenty of nods to the fan-boys, James Spader playing a menacing villain, thrills, spills and a heli-carrier. It’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe at its best.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is showing at Dukes at Komedia, and cinemas nationwide, now.


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