Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, James Spader, Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Samuel L. Jackson

Certificate: 12A

Running Time: 141 minutes

Synopsis: Tony Stark (Downey Jr) creates the ultimate artificial intelligence in an attempt to defend the world. Sadly the AI decides the only way to protect the world is by destroying the human race. The Avengers team must join forces once more in an attempt to stop it from achieving its goal.

Joss Whedon has always been good. Some might know that he was the (uncredited) master behind Keanu Reeves mega-hit SPEED as well as adding the best bits to ALIEN RESURRECTION. Then came BuffyAngelFirefly and SERENITY; passion projects that saw him enter the circle of worship to many a TV geek. None of us were prepared for what came next though, his comic book caper THE AVENGERS ASSEMBLE saw the Marvel film franchise sky rocket through the stratosphere. And now he’s back to better the last, no small feat considering the legacy. But enough about the past, its time for AGE OF ULTRON to take centre stage.

So does the film measure up to the Hulk sized hype? Of course it does. AGE OF ULTRON is as action heavy as you’d expect from a Marvel universe entry; before the opening credits have rolled there’s a preposterously large scale battle to contend with. This is just the tip of the iceberg. During the 140 minutes run times you’ll bear witness to more action sequences than you can shake an infinity stone imbued stick at. Highlight’s include a legion of evil robots, a psychic shakedown and a Hulk temper tantrum whose devastation would make even MAN OF STEEL blush.

The Marvel universe is ever expanding and many may fear that there are too many heroes and villains shoehorned into ULTRON. Thankfully Whedon is considerate to all his cast, allowing each Avenger have their turn in the spotlight. That being said, it is Hawkeye and Black Widow who get the biggest space to grow, both showing a more vulnerable side. Widow especially shares a dark trauma that might not be best suited to the certificate rating.

This film however, is as much about the villains as the heroes. James Spader’s vocal work as Ultron is spot on, the villain a perfect mirror of the darker side of Tony Stark. Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s incarnation of Quciksilver is very different to Evan Peters’ in X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST; sure he has some sass and swagger, but this guy is focussed on vengeance. At his side is sister Scarlett Witch, the chemistry between the two actors much better suited to siblings than their husband and wife team up in last year’s GODZILLA. It is Elizabeth Olsen’s portrayal as Wanda Maximoff that really steals the show. Never has telekinesis and mind control looked so anguished and rock ‘n’ roll.

The only slight downside is, given how much cast there is, and how much time is given to each one, the plot is incredibly simple. The danger that AGE OF ULTRON faces is that it may start to feel ever so slightly repetitive by the final battle.

Last time around our group of heroes were, for most of the run time, The Avengers: Some Assembly Required, but times have changed. The dynamic of the team has changed for this second chapter. For one they are an actual team. All of the back-biting and mistrust has been replaced with zingy one liners and banter. This camaraderie is encapsulated during a party at Avengers HQ; ever wondered what superheroes do instead of karaoke after a few pints? Well wonder no more.

It being a Marvel film you will have to keep your eyes peeled for those pesky Easter eggs, cameos and surprises, but these all add to make the film that much more enjoyable. That, and they keep us hooked like some kind of cinematic pusher; Feige and co know just how much to dangle to ensure we return for the next film (which is technically ANTMAN for those not in the know).

A visual feast, crammed full of action, THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is indeed the sequel fans were hoping for.

THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON Hulk-smashers its way into cinemas everywhere from 23rd April.