My expectations for ‘Age Of Ultron’ were high. Thinking about it, my expectations have probably never been higher. I consider ‘Avengers Assemble’ to be truly amazing, and this sequel promised to be even better, but how? Impossible, I thought. But from the vast collection of trailers we were treated to, the action elements looked incredible and the star of the show, Ultron, hinted at being the villain of all villains. Maybe they could pull it off after all.

When Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) get their hands on technology which could finally lead to the development of artificial intelligence, the pair secretly begin work on building “a suit of armour around the world”. Inevitably, this doesn’t end too well; no world peace this time guys. Instead, Ultron is born, and he intends to create a better future for the human race with the extinction of The Avengers. Earth’s mightiest heroes are understandably unhappy about this plan and embark upon an epic battle to bring down Ultron and stop his reign of widespread destruction.

The returning cast – Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson and star man Robert Downey Jr – are all up to their usual tricks, balancing hard-hitting action with moments of genuinely laugh out loud humour. Jeremy Renner however, has been rewarded with more depth and focus for ‘Age Of Ultron’, with his Hawkeye character getting some much needed development. New characters Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are brought to life rather brilliantly, by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen respectively. Olsen in particular really threatened to steal the show, if you can see past her dodgy Eastern European accent. Unfortunately, the master villain I was hoping for, ended up being just another typically mild, Marvel character. Why did they have to turn Ultron into a big joke? The Ultron we first meet carries a dark and menacing aura, but this quickly becomes much less threatening when he starts cracking jokes with the Avengers. All credit to James Spader, who lends his chilling voice to the role, but the character as a whole is a real letdown.

As far as action scenes go, ‘Age Of Ultron’  offers some of the best I have ever seen in a film; the use of special effects and slow motion frames are a real triumph. This is a thrilling and entertaining film, providing just about everything you could ask for from a superhero flick, apart from the perfect villain. Like many of Marvel’s projects, ‘Age Of Ultron’ errs on the side of caution and goes for the lighthearted approach, perhaps a little too often for my liking. It just seems to take away that dark edge that we all secretly crave.

In comparison to Avengers Assemble, I would say this sequel pretty much matches up to its predecessor, but it’s certainly no better. There’s no progression, no substantial development, it all feels far too familiar, with the two films bearing striking resemblances to one another. Fortunately, the ending to this film suggests big changes to The Avengers series, and with Joss Whedon moving away from the director’s chair, the franchise could receive a much needed, revitalising boost. I absolutely enjoyed ‘Age Of Ultron’, a hell of a lot, that’s not in question. I set the film up for a fall with my astronomical expectations, which admittedly it could never meet, but I couldn’t help feeling somewhat underwhelmed by my most anticipated movie of 2015.

Rating: 8.0/10