Yeah that’s right, we’ve seen ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ already. Three days before it’s meant to come out, in fact. We got invited to the press screening where we were in a room full of journalists from so so many different websites – and proceeded to talk about who the Avengers would be if they were a boyband (sorry, the IGN lot behind us) and ask people to swap our salted popcorn for their sweet (sorry, everyone else).
Things might get a little bit nerdy from here on out, so I do apologise. Normal MP! service will resume afterwards.
It’s astounding how far Marvel have come since laying the groundwork for their cinematic universe in 2008 with ‘Iron Man’ and ‘The Incredible Hulk’. After a slew of origin stories leading up to that original get together in the first ‘Avengers’ we’ve now got a film that has to bring all these heroes back together whilst taking note of their character developments since part 1 and advancing them further, introduce a slew of new characters, good and bad, move forward with the overarching plot line of the Infinity Gems AND tell a self-contained story featuring loads of things getting smashed and man vs machine ‘who is the real monster’ philosophy. It’s a bit kitchen sink.
Thank God then, for Joss Whedon (director of both ‘Avengers’ films, the guy behind ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, ‘Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog’ and much more) who not only manages the herculean task of balancing all of the above, he makes it look easy. But this isn’t a braindead ‘Transformers’ flick: you need to pay attention. Compared to the simplicity of the first ‘Avengers’, ‘Age of Ultron’ is quite dense and willing to leave people who haven’t been following the Marvel films – which, at this point, is surely a very small handful.
As you might expect from the sequel to the third-highest grossing film of all time, a LOT of money has been thrown at ‘Age of Ultron’ which means we get an abundance of action scenes that thankfully never get tiring, thanks to the perfect harmony of tight choreography, camerawork and editing. Main villain Ultron looks fantastic; starting off a shambling robot zombie/puppet, all broken and leaking oil, before creating shiny new forms that are even more terrifying, not because they are big and metal, but because his face moves and emotes so well – he almost looks human, which is the whole point. James Spader gives a terrific vocal performance, imbuing him with bundles of character that not only elevate him far beyond most other evil androids in film, but maybe even above and beyond Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. He’s that good.
His polar opposite, ‘The Vision’ is a cool character as well. His introduction scene starts off all philosophical before one killer moment pulls the rug out from under your feet (happens a lot in this film) and at last night’s press screening, got the entire audience clapping (that happened a lot too). Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch have their moments, and their powers are used to fun effect (but not as cool as the X-Men Quicksilver) but the real stars are the returning Avengers who didn’t get their own solo films: Hulk, Black Widow and especially Hakweye. Jeremy Renner gets a lot more to do in this film than show off his arms, which are admittedly very nice. Thor has an obligatory topless scene as well, if you’re into ‘that sort of thing’.
There’s not really a lot more that can be said without spoiling anything. ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ is a fantastic film, up there with the best from Marvel. The character moments are just as strong as the action sequences, and both are given the right amount of time. You might feel a bit exhausted towards the end; it’s a long film and there’s a lot going on, but you’ll find yourself desperate for the Avengers to assemble again – and the mid-credits tease really doesn’t help.
‘Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron’ opens Thursday 23rd April 2015. If this review hasn’t got you excited enough already, watch the trailer again.