Avengers: Age of Ultron (Cert 12A)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L Jackson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Thomas Kretschmann and the voice of James Spader.
The Avengers storm a Hydra stronghold in the central European city of Sokovia under the control of Baron von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann) in order to reclaim Loki’s magical staff. During the melee, emotionally scarred siblings Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are unleashed.
Wanda infects the mind of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) using her dark sorcery, convincing the billionaire that he will bring about the deaths of the team.
Tormented by his nightmarish vision, Stark unwittingly unleashes the villainous Ultron (voiced by James Spader).
Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans) clashes with Stark for control of the Avengers, comprising Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
Rivalries intensify and fragile bonds of trust fray as mankind’s survival hangs in the balance.
Avengers: Age of Ultron is business as usual for director Joss Whedon, who fleshes out the back stories of existing characters, introduces new friends and foes to the fray, and continues the relentless cross-pollination of this menagerie of mighty Marvel Comics misfits.
Spader’s vocal performance lends gravitas to his mechanised megalomaniac, while Downey Jr predictably snaffles the majority of the droll quips.
Seeds of romance between Ruffalo and Johansson, sown in the first film, are heavily watered as a diversion from the bone-crunching.
The sequel lacks some of the pizzazz of the first film, and pacing noticeably sags in the middle.
Overly enthusiastic editing reduces some skirmishes to a blur. However, ardent fans won’t care one bit.
A two-disc set comprising Avengers Assemble and Avengers: Age of Ultron is also available.