2012's Avengers Assemble was- it's fair to say- a bit of a hit. Under the virtuoso direction of Joss Whedon (an absolute maestro with ensemble casts), it pulled together the disparate characters that had appeared in the previous Marvel movies and brought them together as a team. Whedon is back behind the lens for Avengers: Age Of Ultron.
The Avengers have to face a new threat- one inadvertently created by Tony Stark himself. When Stark jumpstarts a dormant peacekeeping programme- the Ultron initiative, designed to bring 'peace in our time'- things get out of hand pretty quickly and the team have to hunt down the rogue Ultron before his plans come to fruition.
All of the regular actors just fit right back into the characters they've helped create, whilst the new cast and returning faces from previous Marvel films all add to the excitement.
James Spader was a perfect casting choice to voice the villainous Ultron. He has one of those ridiculously silky, sensual voices- anyone familiar with The Blacklist will know what I mean- which is used to good effect here. Ultron's seductive purr as he plots his schemes is a pure joy.
New cast members Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen fit into the already huge cast really well- whilst I preferred Evan Peters' more comedic take on Quicksilver from X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Taylor-Johnson acquits himself well as the super-speedy Pietro. Olsen is just brilliant as Wanda (a.k.a. Scarlet Witch) and her mind-control powers provide the film with some of the best, most freaky and most moving moments. There's a great turn by Andy Serkis as arms dealer Ulysses Klaue and an unsettlingly sinister cameo by Julie Delpy.
The script, also by Whedon, is jam-packed with smart one-liners and some real laugh-out-loud moments- which is great because there's a lot of drama and one scene in particular which I found unexpectedly very moving.
The direction is really strong (as you would expect) even if there's a lot more movement of the camera than I remember from Avengers Assemble. Some of the action set-pieces look fantastic and may even warrant seeing the film in 3D- I saw the 2D version.
Go into this film as spoiler-free as you can. Seriously. So much happens that is unexpected and moving and funny and just downright entertaining that to know about it in advance would be to take the enjoyment right out of the film. I could write about this for hours, detailing every nuance that made me laugh or touched me. But I won't. All I will say is this: another absolute triumph for Marvel.
Rating: 5 out of 5