This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, 26th April 2015
When the Avengers last assembled in 2012, we were treated to one of those terrific “getting the gang together” tales that saw Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk all in one room and exchanging quips throughout their ongoing fight against evil.
As is Hollywood’s wont, in between these ensemble pieces the studios continue to bring out sequels to the individual superhero stories – and so Thor went to a Dark World, Captain America fought the Winter Soldier, and Iron Man, er, 3-ed. If you can keep up with everyone’s travails (or remember the comics you read as a youth) then you’re presumably still excited to experience each big screen adaptation. Otherwise, you can just turn up for nearly two and a half hours of traditional fight scenes punctuated by unfollowable exposition and some touching domestic moments, and let is all wash over you.
The problem with Age of Ultron is there are simply too many superheroes spoiling the broth. Instead of marvelling (pun intended) at the dry wit and flashy gadgets of Robert Downey Jr or the extraordinarily beguiling deep voice of Chris Hemsworth (who wins the charisma-off here, no question), the film is a barrage of videogame action, equitably shared out amongst the core cast so everyone gets their screen allowance (all the big namers are present and accounted for, along with a couple of newbies and a lovely cameo from Andy Serkis).
Highlights include the surprising introduction of one hero’s family priorities, a burgeoning love affair, and the auspices of a really fun party at Tony Stark’s place. Visually, our heroes’ ominous hallucinations, designed to unsettle and derail their powers, are certainly impressive. But even a round-the-world jaunt to South Africa, Korea and “Sokovia” can’t render the Avengers’ quest truly exciting or interesting. Next time, just send Thor back to Asgard and I’ll go watch him there.