Avengers: Age of Ultron 'epic in every sense of the word'
New Avengers provides same 'pop-culture sugar rush as binging on five Game of Thrones episodes'
The Avengers have reassembled and are back in cinemas this week, and the superheroes' latest outing, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is tipped to be the box-office blockbuster of the year.
It comes three years after The Avengers, which still sits among the top three highest ever grossing films.
This time, Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) take on Ultron, a heartless robot bent on eradicating humanity.
He has two sidekicks: super-speedy Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), who has the ability to thrust the superheroes back into the traumas of their past.
"Previously, I have described the assembled Avengers as the Traveling Wilburys of superheroism. Now they are more like a G7 summit of world-saving and crime-fighting with every constituent member becoming a veritable Angela Merkel of demurely offbeat virility," says Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. Giving the film four out of five stars, Bradshaw sums it up as a "superhero cavalcade of energy and fun".
Peter Travers at Rolling Stone says director Joss Whedon "takes a few wrong turns, creating a jumble when the action gets too thick, but he recovers like a pro, devising a spectacle that's epic in every sense of the word".
The Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin says the film provides the same "pop-culture sugar rush" as bingeing on five Game of Thrones episodes back-to-back.
Avengers: Age of Ultron stacks "characters, conflicts, subplots and background treats like tiers of wedding cake – far more than you'd think you could possibly cram into a little under two and a half hours without the whole thing crumbling under the weight of its own calorie count", he says.
But Collin says the film never feels overcrowded, with the interplay between the characters keeping you on the edge of your seat rather than the "blow-up-the-world crisis" they're trying to defuse.
"When you realise you'd happily watch an Avengers movie in which the superheroes didn't even bother to leave the house, you twig that Whedon's really onto something," he says.
The film even offers a few "philosophical vignettes" about the moral ambiguity of superheroes, says Sophie Monks Kaufman from Little White Lies.
These might not have the narrative weight to be anything other than "beguiling curios tossed out and then forgotten", she says, but they are delivered sharply enough to make Age of Ultron "one of the most thoughtfully driven monster vehicles" you are likely to see this summer.