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AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

SYNOPSIS: When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and the Avengers - Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye - are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the mysterious Ultron (voice of James Spader) emerges, the team must reassemble in order to stop the terrifying technological villain hell-bent on human extinction. Along the way, they confront two mysterious and powerful newcomers, Wanda Maximoff and Pietro Maximoff, as well as an old friend in a new form, named The Vision.

Review by Louise Keller:
High scale escapism is in abundant supply in this tornado of action and special effects in which Marvel’s heroes are ready, willing and able save the world. It’s full throttle all the way and there is little time to become involved in anything much beyond the visual spectacle. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye all get their individual turns to shine, although it is the relationship between Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow that has the most appeal. While the visuals are extraordinary and the wry humour is welcome, what’s missing is a coherent story with light and shade. The plot involving Ultron, the high-tech robot with aspirations to destroy the world and make the Avengers extinct is far too complicated – as a consequence, the film is best enjoyed on a visual level.

In the 2012 original movie, when it is Thor’s evil adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who provides the threat to the world, there is a definite dramatic curve, beginning when the heroes are recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). This time around, it feels as though writer and director Joss Whedon’s plot is a tad thin, relying on the dazzling special effects to compensate.

I enjoyed the scenes between Johansson and Ruffalo best – there is a nice dynamic between them. I like the way that Bruce Banner tries to stay cool to avoid turning into the angry green Hulk, whereas Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow understands that there are times when the Hulk is needed and dramatic action needs to be taken in order to ignite Banner’s wrath. She calls him ‘Big Guy’. I was disappointed in Robert Downey Jnr’s role this time but handsome Chris Hemsworth is good value as Thor with the bulging biceps, baritone voice and dry delivery.

Elizabeth Olsen has good screen charisma as she plays mind games, along with Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye reveals a different side of himself in his guise of Clint Barton. Samuel L. Jackson and Idris Elba have little to do, but Chris Evans is solid as Steve Rogers / Captain America. James Spader voices the evil Ultron.

Locations include South Africa, South Korea and Italy doubling for the various Eastern European settings while the sets and production elements are straight out of comic books. On a visual level, the film is extraordinary with effects seamlessly blended into the action. Cars spin and flip, trains derail, buildings crumble and watch for the piece de resistance in which a city flies high into the sky.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (M)
(US, 2015)

CAST: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johnasson, Hayley Atwell, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Elizabeth Olsen, Idris Alba, Jeremy Renner, Paul Bettany, Andy Serkis, Stellan Skarsgard, Stan Lee, Anthony Mackie, Lou Ferrigno, Don Cheadle, Thomas Kretschmann

VOICES: James Spader

PRODUCER: Kevin Feige

DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon

SCRIPT: Joss Whedon (comoic book by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ben Davis

EDITOR: Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Lassek

MUSIC: Brian Tyler

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Charles Swood

RUNNING TIME: 141 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 23, 2015






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