Avengers: Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon, 2015)

What's it about? The Avengers, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), plus a few various other characters from the Marvel universe, swing into action once more when Ultron, an AI-androidy-thingy invented by Tony Stark, gets all hellbent on wiping out humankind. Wisecracks, CGI and action ensue.

Is it any good? In my review of Avengers Assemble I likened the first instalment to Band Aid, wherein a number of big stars team up to save the world. So this sequel must be like Live Aid, amirite?
Well, it is indeed bigger and louder and more chaotic, taking place on several continents, with big names again jostling for position centre stage. Everyone seems to be having a good time and most of it seems fairly reliant on satellite technology to drive it along. Bob Geldof.....sorry.....Joss Whedon gets everyone singing from the same page to good effect(s) as he keeps the whole thing on course - no mean feat given the number of characters, egos and hits to get through. And of course, it has been watched by millions of people and made bucket-loads of cash.
Unlike Live Aid, however, it's unlikely to be remembered in 30 years as anything more than another entry in the Marvel canon - it just doesn't have any emotional heft, so although it's always fun and action-packed there's really no lasting impact to make it anything special. It's true that it acknowledges its own inherent silliness, but perhaps less free-wheeling and more feeling would help. As it is, The Avengers may indeed save the world, but they don't really make us care in doing so.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Safe to say it was somewhat successful - at the time of writing it sits at No. 6 in the all-time box-office charts shovelling an estimated $1.4billion into the bulging Marvel/Disney coffers. Staggeringly, though, it was only the third most successful film of 2015, limping in behind Furious 7 (~$1.5billion) and Jurassic World (~$1.65billion) like a broken android. Looks like a truly formidable foe for the Avengers would be Vin Diesel driving a fast car with a velociraptor riding shotgun.

Anything else I should know? If this all sounds like gobbledegook to you, better brush up on your Marvel universe here. If you don't you'll be quickly lost, as Marvel will launch at least 10 films on the planet Earth over the next 5 years, including Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 (2018) and Part 2 (2019). Be afraid, puny humans, be very afraid.

What does the Fonz think? Truly we live in an age of ultra-excess.

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