Film Review: Avengers: Age Of Ultron

Blockbusters will rule at the cinema this summer.  I’ll be previewing them for London Mums in a few weeks’ time but, in the meantime, warm up acts don’t come much bigger than this – Avengers: Age Of Ultron.  It opens this Thursday, 23 April 2015, certificate 12A.

After being at the helm for both this and the first film in the Marvel series, Avengers Assemble (2012), director and writer Joss Whedon has announced he’s stepping away from the franchise.  The next two instalments – Avengers:Infinity War, parts 1 and 2, due in 2018 and 2019, will be in the hands of Anthony and Joe Russo, who also directed Captain America:The Winter Soldier (2014). Having built his reputation on the Avengers, is Whedon going out with a bang?  London Mums’ film critic, Freda Cooper, straps herself in ……..

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The story

In what is the darkest storyline yet for the Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Junior) re-discovers a dormant piece of artificial intelligence, a particularly advanced one that he’d designed to protect the world.  With help from Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) he decides to kick-start it again, but it all goes hideously wrong, producing Ultron, an android consumed with anger and bent on destroying the world.  So Stark, Banner and the rest of the Avengers have to pull together to put a stop to Ultron’s plans.

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The trailer

 

 

The verdict

We’re on familiar territory for the basis of the story and it all gets off to a typically Avengers start, throwing us right into the middle of a major battle in the first five seconds.  It’s exactly what you need if you don’t  know the characters – and, if you do, then it’s simply a spectacular start.

It’s a film on a massive, if not epic, scale and it needs to be to fill its running time of 2 hours 20 minutes.  The action is utterly relentless, leaving just enough time to draw breath between one set piece and the next and some of them are brilliantly choreographed.  But by the end you’re exhausted: keeping up with it all simply wears you out, in the best possible way.  And it does look like Whedon has thrown everything at the film so that he goes out in style.  I didn’t spot a kitchen sink, but a bath is put to rather good use!  How much he’s left for the Russo brothers to play with in the next instalment is open to question …….

 

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That aside, there’s also Ultron to sort out – and what a magnificent villain he is!  A massive, muscular yet elegant android with a wonderful turn of phrase, he’s voiced superbly by James Spader.  And he’s also sows the seeds of doubt in our minds about some of the Avengers themselves.  Is Stark really a force for good, or does he have his own, more sinister agenda?  And is Hulk more of a danger than we think, despite his growing relationship with Natasha/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)?

That relationship is perhaps the film’s only weakness, an unnecessary romance that makes little contribution to the story or the characters’ development.  Other members of the team are given more of a back story, especially Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who has a family hidden away in the countryside.  It gives the film a real emotional core.

 

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Mum’s rating: 9/10             

Avengers: Age Of Ultron is something of a movie marathon, and not just in terms of its length.  But it’s full of impressive action, special effects, intelligence and the customary throwaway wit that’s become one of Marvel’s trademarks.  Its more sombre tone means you may not come out of the cinema on a high and there’s so much to take in, you may feel like you’ve been binge watching!  But Marvel is clearly still at the top of its game – and looks like staying there for some time to come.

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