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AS much as Avengers: Age of Ultron is reported to have broken returning director Joss Whedon, it fails to break expectations. It’s willingness to please is often it’s greatest downfall.
Recouping the ragtag team of Earth’s mightiest heroes after their numerous individual story arcs is no mean feat, but where The Avengers was fun and pithy, Age of Ultron is tired and weary, displaying cracks almost immediately after a show-stopping opening.
The story concerns an artificial intelligence experiment, conducted by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner (Mark Banner), that goes awry.
In its wake, Ultron is created (voiced by James Spader, one of the films few crowning achievements), and his intention to destroy the world is made clear. It’s then up to the Avengers to stop him and save mankind.
Like most sequels, Age of Utron is considerably bigger and darker. New characters are brought in (Aaron Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen play enhanced twins Pietro and Wanda) and a more elaborate plot is attempted.
But, for all the moments of sheer brilliance, mayhem and quippy one-liners, the film lacks the spark its predecessor. It’s scattershot, the action switching between characters, story arcs and teasers to set up future films.
The narrative has no room to breathe. Whedon’s script touches on ideas momentarily, whether it’s the scary advancements of technology or even the blossoming romance between Banner and Black Widow, before flashing to something else.
Unfortunately, the characters are no better served. While it’s nice to see Hawkeye have more to do and romance blossoming, none of them emerge changed or altered in any way. Age of Ultron has its merits and does what it says on the tin. But Marvel and Whedon can do better.