2015 Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, James Spader
Avengers: Age of Ultron kicks off the summer blockbusters slightly early with this high octane sequel to 2012's Avengers Assemble, we are launched head first at break neck pace right into the thick of things early on.
The film opens with the team storming a Hydra complex and battling their way through the woodlands in order to retrieve Loki's sceptre. After brining the mysterious artefact back to Avengers Tower, Thor Agrees to let Tony study it for a few days before it is to be returned to Asgard. Tony discovers that there is a celestial form of artificial intelligence inside the sceptre and attempts to merge it with his own AI creation Jarvis. The procedure is successful but little do the Avengers know that the AI has developed it's own insidious agenda...
Joss Whedon really went all out with this sequel and tried to check all the boxes, he didn't rely on action alone and while there was action scene after action scene, he also brought across the emotional weight the characters carried. Every member of the Avenger felt like a valuable asset and not just a sub character to the main 3. Hawkeye had a major role in this film and it was so refreshing to get an insight into his past, home life and friendship with fellow Avenger, Black Widow.
The film introduces 3 villains into the mix this time, Ultron, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.
To me unfortunately, Ultron was the biggest weakness of the film, his character was all over the place in terms of tone. The trailers depicted him as a stone cold killing machine (due to bad marketing, this is a nasty trend in cinema lately) but what audiences actually got a a very unbalanced villain. One minute he would give a chilling speech about making the human race extinct and the next he would crack lame jokes during fight sequences. These things completely threw me and made it very hard to get an even feel. I had no problem with his look and design, however I think the decision to animate his mouth could have been handled with slightly more care.
The character of Quicksilver I thought was really cool but terribly under utilized, he had some nice scenes but he never really did anything that made you go 'wow'. Remember Xmen: Days of Future Past? Yes it was garbage but they nailed that version of Quicksilver, Joss Whedon should have taken note of this and gave the character the attention he deserved.
Its not all doom and gloom though as Elizabeth Olsen did a bang up job of playing the agnsty psychic, Scarlet Witch. She was like a mixture of Jean Grey and Magneto from the Xmen franchise all wrapped up in a snazzy leather jacket. She had some eye popping fights against the Ultron clones and it made for some heart stopping viewing.
There were some real stand out scenes in Age of Ultron, one in particular for me was the Hulk rampaging through a city while under Scarlet Witch's mind control. Tony Stark calls down the Hulk Buster armour and they go toe to toe in a scene which was as destructive as it was is hilarious. The competition on who could lift Thor's hammer was also a really nice touch, that moment is revisited later on in the film with a great tie in joke that had the whole cinema laughing.
There were however a few scenes that baffled me, mainly only little niggles but I simply could not ignore the shoe horned in romance angle between Black Widow and Bruce banner (Hulk). This was forced on us constantly throughout the film but failed to strike a chord each time.
Age of Ultron did a great job of building and expanding on everything Avengers Assemble started, I loved the way every character was further explored and found the back stories really compelling. The pacing was great and the entire film was without a dull moment.
The few downsides that held it back were inconsistency with the main villain, bad character choices and forced romance.
Overall a pretty solid way to kick off the summer off blockbusters.