“Daddy, I’m bored“, moans a little voice a few seats away from me.
Clearly the noisy ankle-biter who’s assembled for this Sunday morning IMAX 3D screening of Avengers: Age of Ultron is not feeling the love for Joss Whedon’s sequel to his 2012 blockbuster Avengers Assemble.
Given the moments of exposition and downtime between literally blockbusting scenes, I can understand why a little fatigue has set in.
This might be a film for little kids but it’s also a movie for serious comic book fans who like substance and story with their explosions, something of a rarity in the age of Transformers.
Whedon is no stranger to keeping plenty of plates spinning, as he proved with Buffy all those years ago.
If Avengers Assemble involved his kitchen full of revolving crockery, then Age of Ultron is Whedon’s warehouse full of rotating dishes.
So, on top of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Nick Fury, Maria Hill and Hawkeye, added to the mix are Scarlet Witch and her twin brother Quicksilver, as seen in Guardians of the Galaxy‘s closing credit cookie.
As a fan of The Avengers comics in the 1980s, I dreamed that one day we’d see Scarlet Witch and red faced android The Vision on the big screen.
Of course there’s a gulf between comics and movies, and seeing how well cast and crew bridged the gap was engaging to my 46 year old self and the 11 year old within.
By the end of the first act, Tony Stark’s Hulkbuster versus the green muscle mountain was enough of a finale for any movie.
The second act was a welcome spot of downtime as our heroes had a rest at a key character’s safe house.
Smartly giving franchise-carrying protagonists more of a backseat in favour of beloved secondary Avengers, writer/director Whedon helps flesh out his ensemble.
When the inevitable full-on, explosive finale occurs, there’s a sense of peril for those characters we previously knew little about.
Does it work?
Well, some of the effects are a little weak, and Ultron looks like a snarky Terminator on steroids – not sure about his metal lips – but it scarcely matters.
There’s so much to gawp at throughout, with moments to reflect on how daft the whole thing is if you think about it for a few seconds, some may leave the cinema elated and exhausted.
Performances are all great – Robert Downey Jnr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson gel beautifully.
Series newcomers Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany (now in Vision as well as sound having played Stark’s AI sidekick Jarvis since 2008) slot in perfectly, but Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Quicksilver was less engaging than the same character featured in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
However, the overlong running time could have been tightened up, without sacrificing any of the story or character development.
Given a shopping list of all the other Marvel Cinematic Universe franchises that needed setting up (Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War), Whedon does a fine job of ticking all the boxes, while keeping the viewer hooked.
Okay, it’s not a perfect film by any means, but while it lacks the freshness of movie one, and Tom Hiddleston’s superb villain Loki, there’s much to enjoy here.
It’s a good job there’s usually a three year gap between these huge Marvel epics, because it might take that long for my overloaded brain to recover.