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Avengers: Age of Ultron (3D)


Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L Jackson, Don Cheadle, Cobie Smulders, Andy Serkis, Stellan Skarsgard, Linda Cardellini, Idris Elba, Claudia Kim, Anthony Mackie, voice of James Spader

Director: Joss Whedon

I'm a big fan of Marvel superhero blockbusters - Iron Man 3 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier have been two of the best pure entertainment films of recent times - so it slightly grieves me to report that this, while still enjoyable, isn't exactly the best one you've ever seen.

There are some iffy CGI effects - and some very good ones - and the slam-bang action is often confused, apart from the final battle.

What saves it is a more interesting look at the characters, and some sparky, non-PC dialogue. Battling through the air together, War Machine (Cheadle) asks Tony Stark (Downey Jr) 'Are we holding our own?' Replies Downey: 'we get through this, I'll hold your own.' Grumbles Cheadle: 'You had to make it weird.'

The script also has a few clunkers, though, as when archer Renner's wife (Cardellini) tells him 'I totally support your Avenging.' Ouch!

There's actually too little of Stark, but Thor (Hemsworth, quite funny), Capt America (Evans), Black Widow (Johansson), Hulk (Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Renner) all demand their share of the dialogue (rather too much of this for comfort) and action. And the scientific mumbo-jumbo will leave you far behind.

Plot? Well, if you must: Stark creates an aggressive artificial intelligence which metamorphoses into the impregnable robot Ultron, who plots the destruction of the human race. Yes, he does. Spader's voice plays him jokily, although this perhaps renders him less menacing than he might have been.

And there are newcomers, including Scarlet Witch (Olsen), who reads people's minds, speed-of-light Quicksilver (Taylor-Johnson) and a red cyborg (Bettany) fashioned by Ultron, the survivors from whom will join the Avengers in their next movie - very briefly touted after the initial credits. The action in which they participate is as frenzied as it is exhausting.

I didn't spot Idris Elba, but the credits say he's in there somewhere. Fellow Brit Serkis, however, does make an impression as a rascally South African.

David Quinlan

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Disney (Marvel). Technicolor/Prints by FotoKem.
141 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 21 Apr 2015