Film review – Avengers: Age Of Ultron

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AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

The latest release in the Marvel superhero action saga, starring Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson and James Spader.

Having grown up as a Batman fan, I much prefer the darker, more realistic world of DC Comics to the overblown and frankly ludicrous “Marvel Universe” and would put money on the dark knight every time. Vengeance and a massive chip on the shoulder win out over dodgy science experiments gone wrong every time in my experience.
Not that I’ve had much, directly …

The screening of this latest episode of the highly successful franchise was preceded by Avengers Assemble and Captain America: Winter Soldier as part of a triple bill, with Ultron hitting our screen literally minutes after midnight on the day of release – oddly, a Thursday this time round.
Immediately prior to actually watching this there was a trailer for the new Ant-man film – also by Marvel – about a micro-superhero who grows in strength as he shrinks in size. A con man forced to help his mentor to pull off a heist, I sincerely hope this is an out-and-out comedy because it looks even more ridiculous than last year’s blockbuster, Guardians Of The Galaxy – was I really the only person who didn’t enjoy that movie ??

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Anyway, back to “reality”, whatever that is in this world …
The plot centres, as usual, on Ironman’s monstrous ego and the effects of yet another experiment that goes awry somewhere in the bowels of the Stark Tower, creating a high-tech baddie, hell-bent on the destruction of mankind. It wants to rid the earth of pesky humans in order to take the next step in evolution itself, using the power of Loki’s sceptre and one of the fabled Infinity Stones.
If you don’t know what any of this means, don’t worry: you can still watch this as a stand-alone romp and enjoy it perfectly well without being that well-versed in the whole “universe” thing. Reluctantly, our heroes regroup under Nick Fury’s unique leadership and the fun starts as it slowly dawns on them just what it is that they’re up against …

With an absolutely stellar cast (including Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Renner, Andy Serkis and Jenny Agutter among others), more set pieces than an Italian derby and a massive amount of punches to the face throughout, this is way better than I possibly imagined it could be.
Assemble was a decent movie and an important step along the way, fleshing out what had previously been predictably one-dimensional characters and actually creating back stories of real depth. The individual Captain America episodes continued in the same vein and – for once – I felt Marvel were aiming at a (slightly) more mature audience than its usual pre-teen, popcorn target market. This wasn’t just about shifting units in Toys R Us.
I’m not saying it’s another 2001 or even anywhere close to, say, Star Wars, but there was real progression in terms of making the Marvel world that bit more believable.
Ultron takes it to a whole new level. All the characters feel more rounded and the sense of team spirit – fostered constantly by the Captain while undermined regularly by Ironman/Stark – really takes hold, with chemistry popping up in the most unusual places between people you might think really wouldn’t get on that well.

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I can’t reveal much about the plot without spoilers, but there are a couple of interesting new baddies in this one in the shape of two “enhanced” humans, one with super-speed and the other the ability to manipulate the minds of others. There’s some truly sensational hallucinatory sequences that reveal far more about our “heroes” than any number of Origins movies and the way they’re threaded together is perfect. The visual side of this movie is breathtaking at times and the editing is also top notch.
Tech stuff aside, this film hangs together very well, is excellently paced and – above all else – there’s more humour in this picture than all the other Marvels put together.
The dialogue is sharp, funny and true to all the characters, with plenty of running jokes throughout.

As blockbuster superhero stories go, Ultron is right up there with the best.
You know what you’re gonna get with a Marvel movie and this one does not disappoint.
When the enemy announces “You’re all killers. You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change. There’s only one path to peace: your extinction” there’s only one thing you can do … call The Avengers !

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