AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is the follow-up to 2012’s AVENGERS ASSEMBLE. Featuring the most enormous super hero cast in all of history (more on that later), AVENGERS is probably the biggest movie of the year – if not the decade…

Avengers: Age of Ultron artwork

The hype behind his movie has been truly a force of nature. The pressure on the producers must’ve been unbearable. I’m going to try to keep this review spoiler-free, and keep the hero-praise to a minimum – I’ve always been more of a DC rather than Marvel fan! – and instead answer the key question that the movie-going public is asking: is this movie any good?

The answer is a resounding yes. My tagline: AVENGERS is a fun, explosive and at times surprisingly emotional journey.

The plot is simple enough. Tony Stark, also known as Iron Man, together with Dr Bruce Banner, creates an artificial intelligence programme from a piece of alien technology. As is ever the case, the resulting AI – the Ultron of the title – “goes all Skynet” and quickly develops ideas of its own. The only force capable of standing between Ultron and the destruction of the human race is the Avengers.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Black WidowAVENGERS has to be applauded for managing a disparate and incredibly diverse cast of super heroes (and heroines). Ultron aside, we’ve got Black Widow, Thor, The Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Falcon, Iron Patriot, Nick Fury and even some bit parts from other heroic characters. I’ve read some reviews which suggest that the script struggles to give space to all of these characters. I’d strongly disagree with that: the movie in fact manages the characters well. They are allowed to breathe individually, whilst also interacting nicely with each other. Very early on, there is an interesting development between Black Widow and The Hulk: immediately making the Black Widow interesting. There are several such small touches; as a writer, I was actually impressed with the level of characterisation shown throughout the film, and Joss Whedon’s juggling of the numerous personnel.

A criticism that I’ve previously levelled at the first Avengers outing is the disparity between the powers and abilities of the various heroes. Thor has almost unlimited physical powers – maybe not on the same level as Superman, but approaching that degree of invulnerability. Why would he need, or indeed want, the assistance of Hawkeye: basically, a soldier with a bow and arrow? This is addressed in the film. Hawkeye himself discusses the insanity of his position. On that note, although Hawkeye felt like an add-on in AVENGERS ASSEMBLE he is definitely given a more relevant role in AGE OF ULTRON.

The film provides a larger and more drastic threat than in the individual Marvel Universe films (catastrophic enough that the whole team is required). As you’d expect from a multi-million dollar Disney film, the effects are impressive and seamless. My particular favourite is the “Hulkbuster” scene…

Avengers: Age of Ultron Hulkbuster suit

My conclusion? AGE OF ULTRON is an epic super hero adventure, with some surprisingly emotional story beats. Hero movies are about escapism, and if you are remotely interested in super heroes then you’ll undoubtedly enjoy AVENGERS.

The bar has been set for BATMAN VS SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE…