THE Avengers: Age of Ultron is packed with superb action sequences, yet it is so full that it is slightly bloated.
Credit once more goes to director, Joss Whedon for managing to balance screen time between so many characters.
Each of the Avengers gets their own scene and even flash backs to fill out their story thanks to the psychic powers of the Scarlet Witch.
Though, not all of these scenes help to push the plot forward in a meaningful way.
Thor and Hawkeye steal a lot of time with little to no pay off.
Thor’s scenes are not fully explained and function exclusively to set up his next instalment and shoe horn Idris Elba’s popular mug into the run time.
While Hawkeye is given a family, kids and a second life simply so that the team have a ‘safehouse’ to recuperate, this time would have been better spent explaining where Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) comes from and how he is able to re-assemble Shield with certain major resources at a moment’s notice.
Age of Ultron is also quite obtuse, throwing in characters without introduction, assuming that the audience has seen every Marvel Cinematic Universe title to date.
Bruce Banner (Hulk) and Black Widow are given a romance story yet it feels false and more of a plot mechanic, giving a method through which the Hulk can be calmed down and an excuse for Black Widow to spill on her previous life.
The pace is generally good but frequently moves about.
There are a number of scenes where the location’s name appears at the bottom of the screen, this is a cheap mechanic, avoiding the need to explain ‘place’ through what is actually happening, or heralding that the scene will be a short one, out of type and away from where the main action is happening.
Despite all of this, the second Avengers film definitely gets more right than it gets wrong.
Whedon was aware that he wouldn’t be able to recapture the excitement of the Avengers’ first assembly so the film opens with the team already together in mid-fight.
The choreography of these battle scenes are brilliant with each member of the team showing what they can do alone and together, the dialogue also stays at pace, keeping the humour at a constant appropriate level.
The acting is also strong throughout, James Spader is commanding as Ultron and his cold satire lends itself to a number of gags, he is a super villain whose return (if possible) would be a welcome one.
Paul Bettany became more than the voice in Iron Man’s ear as he was personified as the Vision, a new hero created by fusing robotics with a genuine soul (mind gem).
Vision’s appearance in the film was previously announced and created apprehension as his existence seemed slightly too far fetched (yes even for a hero flick), but he was very well integrated; it was nice to see the likable Jarvis, capitalised on.
For those who are invested in the Marvel universe, this was a worthy instalment in the second phase of the franchise.
For anyone else, it is a quality action film that tries to carry slightly too much.
With a few minor changes, some editing cuts and a shift of priority from fore-shadowing future films to focusing on this one, Age of Ultron could easily have been better than the first Avengers film.
It has fallen victim to its own franchise’s ambition, forgetting that the set up for the next chapter used to be summarised with a nod at the end with the credits.
That said, watching Iron Man throw a punch from altitude in his hulkbuster suit to hammer Bruce Banner down through a skyscraper was just epic.
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