Joss Whedon is once again at the helm as he reassembles the Avengers for another Marvel romp. After the massive success of 2012’s The Avengers it was always going to be hard to follow, and with Marvel’s recent films being especially well received the stakes were raised. So how has the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe held up?
Well, not too bad. The film got off to a good start, putting us right in the action from the very beginning which gave the film the pace it needed while still revealing a little to the audience of what had happened between the films. A sign of Whedon’s handling of the script that it kept this up throughout the 141 minute runtime, interspersing plot with action so as to keep the audience engaged and entertained. This isn’t to say that the dialogue was perfect, with the odd clichéd moment popping up creating a slightly jarring effect in some of the quieter scenes but these were not enough to tip the scales. The touch of humour that Whedon showcases so wonderfully in his previous work on shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that has been so well received by Marvel audiences before is wonderfully present and adds much needed light touches throughout. While The Avengers was on the whole rather light hearted the sequel is noticeable more sombre, even the cool colour palate in many scenes can be recognised to reflect the recent Captain America: The Winter Solider more than its predecessor.
And this darker tone can be seen in each of our characters, many of them struggling with the events of the past. Robert Downey Jr. in particular does some great work, teasing out the fragility in his usually so self-confident character as Tony Stark deals with the events of the first film and worries how safe humanity really is. One of the main positives of the film was that it filled out the characters it had, to some degree, glossed over previously, in particular Natasha Romanoff, Clint Barton and Bruce Banner. But the film as a whole, despite its impressive CGI, many good performances, and the haunting glory that was James Spader’s voice as Ultron, felt at times like an obligation rather than a rousing crescendo. The film is a necessary step to further the Infinity War story line that now runs through many of the films, and to see it finally involve the Avengers and move towards it climax was very satisfying but left me with more of a “Finally!” than anything else.
Nevertheless I fully enjoyed myself and it was definitely among some of the better ways I’ve spent two hours and I will no doubt watch it again at some point. Age of Ultron may feel more of a milestone than a destination but it was by no means an unpleasant one, and I for one will never be able to look at Pinocchio the same way ever again.