Avengers: Age of Ultron marks the return of the Marvel behemoth that grossed in the region of $1.5bn back in 2012. Joss Whedon also returns as writer and director along with the cast of familiar faces that includes Robert Downey Jnr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner.
The film centres on Tony Stark (Downey) attempting to create an ‘iron shield’ around planet Earth known as the Ultron programme. His ultimate aim is to end the need for the Avengers and is opportunity comes when the group is able to retrieve Loki’s staff from a Hydra lair. Obviously his plan has unintended consequences that put the future of the Avengers and the planet at risk.
There are two main themes at work in the second Avengers film. The first is that while someone may have the best of intentions the outcomes are not always positive. Their passion to bring their vision to life can override their objectivity. The second theme is the tension between the responsibility of being someone in a position to protect and serve while wanting to preserve some sense of normality. You see this play out in the film in a number of guises as new areas of the Avengers lives are opened up.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is a crowd pleaser that will play well with the mass audience. It’s big and bombastic and it reminded me of Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) in that it never wants to let up and delivers one big action sequence after another with few pauses for breath. Whedon has chosen to inject more humour as well so expect plenty of one liners and friendly banter – Captain America (Evans) seems to be on the receiving end of most of it.
Sadly this film is not as good as the first effort. My main issue was battle fatigue, as with Man of Steel (2013), some of the action sequences go on … and on… and on. There comes a point when you want the sequence to end and the narrative to move forward. The result is a film that is 30 minutes too long and there are some distinct similarities in some of the story beats with the first film. Anyone remember The Avengers falling out and then making up for the big finale? Well you get it here again. You also see the alien army of Loki being replaced by Ultron’s (James Spader) robots for another mass slaughter of nobody’s that can’t offend the censor.
If you loved the first Avengers outing you’ll not be disappointed by this as it’s more of the same. I was entertained by this film but I prefer the original and other Marvel efforts such as Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014). Truth be told it’s a little disappointing – it needed to be tightened up and have a little more light and shade. My rating 3/5.