*NEW* LOGAN REVIEW *NEW*

The BEST Wolverine movie?! Well, it didn’t have much to go up against.

He saw it and it was good.

A fitting swansong. It’s just a shame that we finally get the Wolverine spin-off we deserve when Jackman decides to hang up the claws. 17 years? Has it really been 17 years since the first X-Men movie hit the silver screen?

A franchise I grew up with (Well, a movie franchise. I’ll confess the comic books never appealed to me. Sacrilege, I know). In fact, it took me multiple watches to like the first X-Men movie BUT there was always one character that stole the show for me. Any guesses on who that could be?

Hugh Jackman is a fantastic actor but after all the hype and praise, I feared the worst for another botched Wolverine flick. Origins was a drawn out mess (Let’s not forget the Deadpool subplot) and The Wolverine was shambolic. I mean, come on! A metal samurai robot?! Really?

BUT thankfully, third time’s the charm.

In the near future, a weary Logan (Jackman) cares for an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart) somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant (Dafne Keen) arrives, pursued by dark forces.

The brutally violent and bloody opener set the tone. This Wolverine had had enough. An embittered man ready to die. Done with the world and the people who live in it.

Mangold and co. really took advantage of that 15 certificate. The carnage was relentless. And let’s not forget the endless F-bombs.

BUT it also established a much more cynical and darker feel to the X-Men movies. A direction that would perfectly suit any upcoming DC movie. If they are lucky to be green lit any more.

Patrick Stewart was superb as Charles Xavier. The man who had all the answers. Lost in his own mind. Heartbreaking. I always loved the fractious relationship between him and Logan.

Never giving up on the soldier who had deemed himself a lost cause.

“I’m a glorified truffle pig” – My favourite line of the film. Mangold penned a cracking script.

I was a little anxious when I saw Stephen Merchant’s name pop up in this super-serious gritty neo-Western but the boy from Bristol did well as the albino mutant tracker Caliban. He delivered a much needed comic relief.

Boyd Holbrook was wasted in his role as the slick toothed Pierce. A gold toothed mercenary with cyber-enhancements. The Narcos star made a memorable introduction BUT he soon whimpered into the background to make way for Richard E Grant’s (incredibly weak) and slimy Dr. Rice.

I loved Mangold’s little nods. A Western to its very core. I loved the Shane movie montage sequence. Contrasting the frail and bloodied Logan to the iconic cowboy as he tried to refuse the call.

One last mission. To save a young mutant girl who was being made into a weapon. Something old Wolfie could relate to.

He soon met his match with Rice’s latest creation. NO SPOILERS HERE.

Dafne Keen didn’t do too bad as Laura. It didn’t really come as too much of a revelation about her abilities. Although comic fans will already know. I just wish the trailers hadn’t spoiled it.

Her incessant screaming and zombie stares did do my nut in at times BUT she worked well with Jackman. They made a good duo especially when they teamed up to dispose of their pursuers. One bloody corpse at a time.

John Mathieson’s cinematography was fantastic to look at. Beautifully captured. The special effects were incredible. Great action set pieces and cracking CGI.

The pace meandered by the 80 minute marker and the middle act did draw things to a slump BUT we were soon rewarded with a no-holds barred visceral action packed gore fest.

The only other niggle was that I was left with questions. The meta-textual references with the X-Men comics was a nice in-joke BUT I wondered what had happened to the rest of X-Men. No passing comments. Nothing. Gutted.

After all the time-altering in Days of Future Past, what changed? I’m trying to be as cryptic as possible without divulging too much story.

Mangold tried to make an accessible solo effort BUT I found he isolated the little things that would have polished it off for me.

BUT that didn’t spoil what was a bloody good watch. There were genuine moments where I actually felt a little tear in the eye for the Professor and his miserable protegee.

It may have taken two dreadful movies BUT we got there in the end and I don’t think any X-Men fans will be disappointed.

BUT I’ll let you be the judges.

3.5/5

*DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE END OF THE CREDITS. There are no teasers or spoilers. Nothing. Just a thank you to the people who made this movie. DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME*

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*NEW* SPLIT REVIEW *NEW*

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A return to form from the maestro who brought us The Sixth Sense?

Or another dud to add the ever-growing backlog from that guy who gave us The Happening?

In a nutshell, meh.

BUT one thing can be agreed, James McAvoy was excellent.

Three girls are kidnapped by a man diagnosed with 23 distinct personalities. They must escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

I think it’s fair to say that M. Night Shyamalan’s movie have . . . split audiences. Ba-dum-tssh. I read that somewhere and had to put it.

I’ve always loved the premises BUT his execution? Well . . .

Desperate to be the next modern Hitchcock (The opening title sequence for Split resembled something out of Psycho!)

His big “twists” and mad endings have failed to impress of late; The Visit (Laughable), After Earth (Jaden Smith, say no more!), The Lady in the Water (Apart from that breaking of the 4th wall moment, woeful) and The Happening . . .

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How could I forget?!

What do you mean, where’s Signs and The Village? I *shuffles collar* actually enjoyed those movies. Yes, I know. Aliens attack Earth and their sole weakness is water. I know! BUT Mel Gibson and Johnny Cash, man!

I digress. I was actually excited by all the trailers to see Shyamalan’s latest thriller and I didn’t mind it. It was alright BUT it just didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

The opening didn’t mess about. An air of unease established straight from the get go as McAvoy’s “Dennis” made his introduction to the unsuspecting trio.

Funny that I was praising Anya Taylor-Joy in another mediocre movie (Morgan). She played the withdrawn but resourceful Casey well.

I didn’t expect to see Grace from Skins (Jessica Sula) in the troubled party either.

Their initial captivity felt like something from Kiss the Girls with a hint of Misery. 

The first half hour set a slow burning atmospheric thriller with all sorts of questions flying around. 

Every time I could feel my patience wading, McAvoy’s Dennis would introduce another personality.

McAvoy continues to impress yet again. I don’t think I would have been half as interested if he wasn’t at the helm. 

He stole the show with everybody else playing second fiddle.

And that was part of the problem, every time the action was taken away from him, I lost interest.

Betty Buckley (Carrie) didn’t do a bad turn as Dr Fletcher, the therapist desperate to help the troubled mad man. Fighting for “their” cause. Playing a very dangerous game. 

There were genuine moments where I felt tense. Especially when she worked out that she wasn’t talking to the “right person”.

The girls played their parts well and were quite resilient.

I expected more cliched horror movie gaffs with three teenage girls at the centre of the chaos BUT they were fairly strong characters. Not bad, Mr Shyamalan.

BUT one thing that bugged me the most was the film’s actual premise. 23 personalities?

All those trailers, billboards, posters. 23 personalities. Did we actually get 23 personalities?

*POSSIBLE SPOILER*

For the majority of the film, we only had 4. Great performance from Professor X but a measly number that increased to maybe 7 by the end? Come on now.

It was great how with a twitch in the face and a burrow of the brow; McAvoy’s infantile nine year old Hedwig could transform into the meticulous and obsessive compulsive Dennis. 

His Patricia could easily have bordered on a parody of Mrs Doubtfire.

Thankfully, it didn’t.

BUT this could have been done in 90 minutes and been better for it. 

The pacing hammered the piece for me and the final act dragged.

There was so many meandering flashbacks into Casey’s past, I kept wondering what the relevance of them were? 

They killed the tension and annoyed the hell out of me.

All the talk of a Beast. This new and vicious 24th personality. Those crazy descriptions and the big reveal, the “What a twist” moment didn’t quite deliver.

It was certainly creepy and unsettling with Shyamalan teasing the die hards BUT it didn’t quite pan out the way I hoped.

Different. Watchable. BUT thriller of the year? Meh.

Certainly worth a view for one stellar performance from the super Scot.

A return of sorts. Not his best. BUT certainly NOT his worst by a country mile.

3/5 (Just)

*NEW* DEADPOOL REVIEW *NEW*

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Stupid, ridiculous, violent and . . . not bad at all.

I couldn’t think of anybody better than “God’s Perfect Idiot” to take on the iconic role of everybody’s new favourite foul mouthed anti-hero.

How many chances can Ryan Reynolds have bringing a comic book character to the silver screen? Thankfully third time’s the charm.

A fast-talking mercenary with a morbid sense of humor is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers and a quest for revenge.

From the mental opening sequence, I knew what I was getting myself into. A lewd, crude, brutal BUT incredibly funny shoot em up.

The way people were raving about Deadpool; you would have thought you’ve never seen Ryan Reynolds shout and scream profanities!

The film swiftly flicked back and forth between Deadpool’s relentless revenge spree to his “unconventional” love story with the feisty hooker Vanessa (Morena Baccharin – Homeland).

I couldn’t resist laughing at Reynold’s quick witted one liners and smart ass insults while he clocked up the body count. This role really was made for him.

To be honest, the film only really lost momentum when it tried to take itself more seriously.

The pace lagging when we got to the origin stuff. Sorry, the NEW origin stuff. 

Apparently we’re supposed to forget about Deadpool’s origin story in X-Men Origins: Wolverine now. Especially during Wade’s experimentation.

Completely breezed over that little question with silly (BUT hilarious) meta-textual references. Reynolds even had a pop at himself with a Green Lantern gag for good measure.

I know we had to see the humble beginnings of this quick witted mad man BUT no matter how many sly digs, gags and 4th Wall breaking, you couldn’t hide the fact that it was the same old cliched story.

As much as Baccarin and Reynolds had great chemistry and the cheesy luvvy duvvy exchanges were replaced with messed up foreplay and a year long bonkathon montage to commemorate their romance, it was still boy meets girl.

“Oh, that’s because it’s Christmas Day Dopinder and I’m looking for someone on my naughty list!”.

I was actually more interested in the naive cabbie Dopinder’s (Karan Soni) subplot. Coaxed into ferrying Pool around on his vengeance-seeking killing spree.

I’ve never really rated Ed Skrein’s acting (The Transporter Refuelled) but he played the maniacal “British villain” Francis quite well. The man that made Deadpool; “A penis with teeth”.

Gina Carano (Haywire)’s delivery may have been colder than Colossus’ steel BUT she nailed the hard ass (and ironically titled) Angel Dust a treat.

T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley) was good as the Comic Relief BUT there wasn’t enough of him. 

The same could be said for Deadpool’s blind crackhead roomie Blind Al (Leslie Uggams).

The pair’s bickering over IKEA furniture while gunning up for battle was hysterical!

“It’s like the studio couldn’t get another X-Men”. I’m not going to lie. I’ve never read the comic books. I wasn’t aware that Deadpool existed in the same universe as the X-Men. 

Shock horror. It was great to see Colossus the metallic bad ass that owned the opening sequence from X-Men: Days of Future Past get a little more screen time.

We were even introduced to a new face; the moody emo-looking Negasonic Teenage Warhead (played brilliantly by Brianna Hildebrand). 

The unlikeliest crime fighting trio I’ve seen so far.

It was funny watching Deadpool ‘refusing the call’ to be an X-Men. Evading capture from Colossus by cutting his own hand off. Ouchie. God knows how he would fit in with that mad bunch?!

The shoot em ups and fighting sequences were brilliantly choreographed and deliciously gory. 

I just wish the deaths were a little more creative. Spelling enemies’ names with bodies, yes! Kicking a guard’s amputated head to disarm another guard, yes!

BUT once you’ve seen ol’ Pool slice and dice through a dozen bodies, it got a little repetitive. 

BUT despite it’s flaws, it was a breath of fresh air to see a film openly rip and poke fun at the endless superhero entries that are relentlessly bombarding the big screen. 

It really was a mad riot with Reynolds on fine form.

If that sounds like your kind of thing, then it won’t disappoint. 

I’m sure I don’t have to say it BUT please persevere through the credits for a little treat. Chicka chika!

3.5/5

*NEW* X-MEN: APOCALYPSE REVIEW *NEW*

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Was another one really necessary? Probably not BUT with Singer at the helm, I knew I was in for a treat.

After the re-emergence of the world’s first mutant, world-destroyer Apocalypse, the X-Men must unite to defeat his extinction level plan.

I loved the X-Men movies (Yes, even The Last Stand. No, really! I’ve seen worse. Trust me). BUT I couldn’t get into X-Men: First Class and felt the Wolverine spin-offs were a massive let down (Although I still have high hopes for Logan!). A shame considering the cast, the characters and Hugh flippin’ Jackman!

Disappointing affairs that there were either too long, too dull or riddled with far too many plot holes and I didn’t even read the comic books.

Thankfully Days of Future Past was a return to form and mixed the old cast with the new perfectly. Singer’s direction being the missing ingredient. I had to laugh at his sly dig about the third movie always being the worst in a “Star Wars” debate. Righting so many wrongs in one action packed package.

So here we are . . . *WARNING POSSIBLE SPOILERS!* After the bombshell that was delivered at the finale of Days of Future Past, I really wanted to see the next installment. BUT one that followed on. NOT going back into the past again! I was a little disappointed BUT it was still a highly watchable and enjoyable effort.

The idea of mutants existing through history and NOT just from experimentation was a different angle.

The opening felt like something out of The Mummy (The Stephen Sommers saga) with all the crazy golden swag everywhere and demented ritual stuff. BUT it got things going and set up the chrome-esque Humpty Dumpty looking and (poorly named) Apocalypse quite well.

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Looks a bit like Ivan Ooze.

Despite all that make up and silly voice tampering, Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina) was still a convincing super-villain (Even if he spent the majority of the film monologuing). A god hell bent on bringing the Second Coming with the help of his chosen Horsemen.

Writer Simon Kinberg and Singer explored the origins of the old favourites quite well. Tye Sheridan (Scouts’ Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse) was very good as a young Scott Summers/Cyclops. Sophie “Game of Thrones” Turner was excellent as Jean Grey. Her accent was impeccable.

There wasn’t enough of Kodi Smit-McPhee’s (Let Me In) Nightcrawler. He captured Alan Cummings’ mannerisms perfectly and stole every scene. Alexandra Shipp’s Storm was tragically lost in the mix far too much. A bit like her older counterpart in Future Past. Shame.

It was intriguing to see Fassbender’s Magneto portrayed as the tormented anti-hero. Doomed to never have a normal life after trying to start a family in Poland. The only problem was that despite giving an extra depth to the maniacal metal man, it left him skulking around for the rest of the film. Gutted.

I loved the transformation of Mystique’s character. To change from a morphing femme fatale to a conflicted symbol for the mutants’ fight for survival. BUT then again what did you expect when you have Jennifer Lawrence taking on the role?!

The only problem was that it felt like a retread from FP with Raven refusing to take the call. Even though you knew the inevitable outcome.

BUT where Singer and Kinberg explored old faces, they tried to bring in new ones which didn’t quite work. Ben Hardy’s Angel and the beautiful Olivia Munn’s Psylocke were a waste of time. Even Sabre Tooth and Toad made more memorable minions.

However, there was one face I was happy to see return and that was Evan Peters’ (American Horror Story) Quicksilver. He stole the show in Future Past and did it yet again. Featuring in one of the best animated sequences I’ve seen in a long time.

You thought the prison breakout was impressive in FP, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The detail. The effects! Fantastic. It may have taken months to shoot BUT it was worth every frame. And all perfectly timed to the rhythmic beat of Eurthymics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).

It was entertaining as hell as Quicksilver kung fu kicked doors and moon walked across fiery hallways while his clueless comrades stood frozen in time; oblivious of their impending doom.

I was a little annoyed with the influx of new faces that didn’t get enough back story to make a proper introduction. Scott’s brother Alex or Havok (Lucas Till) was hyped up as such a crucial character BUT it was his first appearance in the franchise. An unnecessary addition by the time the credits rolled.

The pace did test in the final third and the finale, despite the amazing visuals, felt like a retread of FP and First Class with Magneto sulking and wanting to end the world (Again). Yawn.

It might help to have watched the other entries to appreciate all the little nods. Especially First Class because I had completely forgotten about Rose Byrne’s character and her silly little love subplot with Professor X. Thankfully Singer and co. did a quick recap to jog the memories of those who aren’t up to speed on their X-Men history.

BUT there was still enough fun and action to keep me entertained. The only problem by trying to fill in the gaps and explore new territory, Singer unwittingly put more cracks in the time frame from the original efforts. There was a revelation surrounding one character that came out so half arsed that I wondered why they even bothered in the first place?!

Despite my gripes, Apocalypse still fitted perfectly as a precursor to the first X-Men movie (That’s the 2000 release for those who want to be pedantic with the crazy time frame) and wasn’t quite the wash out that people had me believe.

The cast were great, the effects and set pieces were breathtaking and I still had fun after 16 years and 7 films (Does The Wolverine count? Okay, 8. What about Deadpool? Steady on).

3.5/5

*NEW* MIDNIGHT SPECIAL REVIEW *NEW*

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Not that special.

A father (Michael Shannon – Man of Steel) and son (Jaeden Lieberher – St. Vincent) go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child’s special powers.

Overhyped, drawn out and disappointing. A patchy affair, to say the least.

The opening 30 minutes was everything I expected. It was tense, slow burning and mysterious as we watched Roy (Shannon) and Alton (Lieberher) hiding out in motels. Only travelling at nightfall. Evading capture at any cost. A suspenseful encounter with a state trooper after a late night car collision was nail-biting.

All the questions with none of the answers. Hook, line and sinker! Joel Edgerton (Warrior) worked well with Shannon as his friend and partner in crime. Lieberher excelled yet again (after a stellar turn in St. Vincent) as Alton. He felt like a cross between ET and D.A.R.Y.L. If said aliens were brainwashed by a religious cult.

I did expect more from Shannon’s performance. He didn’t impress as much as I hoped. Was a leading role a stretch too far after so many iconic supporting roles (Man of Steel/Boardwalk Empire)? He just wasn’t charismatic enough. I wanted to care for the pair. BUT as the film drudged along, my patience was soon tested.

Thankfully Jeff Nichols didn’t explore too much of Sam Shepard’s (Mud) crazy ranch cult. I was happy NOT to be stuck with that dreary subplot. It felt like a pale imitation of Big Love (A show I would highly recommend). The perception that Alton was a gift from God was different BUT it didn’t really go anywhere.

Kirsten Dunst (Fargo) was wasted in her role. Her character was so weak and one dimensional. There was NO connection or chemistry between her and Shannon (or their characters) and by the time the frenetic finale came to a close, you realized how unnecessary her character really was.

NOT even Kylo Ren could save the day. Adam Driver’s (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) initial introduction was annoying and dull. His communication babble and co-ordinate guff put me into a mini-coma.

It probably didn’t help that he looked like Matt from the hilarious Saturday Night Live Star Wars Undercover Boss skit (Check it out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaOSCASqLsE). However, Driver’s nerdy shtick soon won me over and was a much needed boost in this increasingly drawn out yarn.

The mystery throughout the first half of the film was the only thing keeping me going. The fact we didn’t know why Alton was special. Why did he have to leave? Who was coming for him? Did he even have powers? Was it a hoax? Mere pandemonium from a bunch of deluded zealots?

All we knew was that he had to wear goggles during the day and stay out of the sunlight. BUT the second half of this sci-fi snooze-fest threw that out of the window with Alton blazing light out of his eyes like Cyclops from X-Men. Pulling satellites out of the sky and babbling in radio frequencies.

Don’t get me wrong, when it (finally) kicked off, there were moments to be had. The special effects were brilliantly executed and the chase sequences soon stopped me fidgeting in my seat.

BUT I think it would have worked much better if Nichols had played out whether Alton was an alien or not up to the very end. The sci-fi stuff was revealed far too early. Killing a lot of the tension and suspense for me.

I loved the Close Encounters of Third Kind vibe to the piece BUT it was far too patchy. There were only so many sweeping shots from Adam Stone’s beautiful cinematography and brooding scores (from regular Nichols stalwart David Wingo) to keep my interest.

The finale was frantic and baffling BUT ultimately by the closing credits, predictable and disappointing. A bizarre set design, that was supposed to be breathtaking and captivating, looked like something from Tomorrowland.

Nichols left it on a strange climax with more questions. I could see what he was trying to do BUT by the end I really didn’t care. For all the mystery and tension, it couldn’t hide what was a rather weak and tame alien road movie that (despite all the promise) lacked in depth or originality.

It was watchable BUT far too patchy and overhyped. Personally, Mud is still my favourite out of Nichols’ works.

2.5/5

*NEW* THE GOOD DINOSAUR REVIEW *NEW*

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Not good enough, I’m afraid.

An epic journey (Well . . . ) into the world of dinosaurs where an Apatosaurus named Arlo (Raymond Ochoa) makes an unlikely human friend.

The thought of having two Pixar movies in a year should have been a treat BUT this latest offering failed to hit the same highs as any of its predecessors.

I tried my best NOT to draw comparisons BUT it was hard not to when the story was so flat and predictable. Don’t get me wrong. It was watchable and there were some nice moments that still cracked the embittered cynic in me but memorable?

The opening with the infamous asteroid avoiding the Earth 65 million years ago teased a “What if dinosaurs weren’t wiped off the face of the planet scenario” BUT Pixar’s only answer to that was farming, apparently.

Really? It was easygoing enough but a little tame as Arlo and his family tended to their crops. Seeing Arlo as the runt of the pack and battling his fear of everything had been done to death. What didn’t help was that Ochoa’s voice really grated against me throughout the whole film and when Arlo howled with Spot (Far too many times), I prayed for them to stop!

Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace) played the role of Poppa well. Sharing his words of wisdom and desperately trying to get Arlo to conquer his fears and make his mark (Well, footprint) on the family wall (And the world, most likely). Awww. Yuck. While poor Frances McDormand (Fargo) was completely wasted in her role as Momma.

What baffled me was the Southern accents? It felt like a Western take on Ice Age. On paper, it had potential BUT it’s a shame that it didn’t really amount to much.That’s NOT to say it was all bad.

Pixar still delivered with their fantastic visual effects. The panning shots as Arlo rode down the river made you feel like you were there with him and there was a beautiful sequence in which Arlo and Poppa run through a field of glistening glow flies (Lame. Hey, it was great). I think that was the only moment where I wished I had invested in 3D. Otherwise, I don’t think the experience would have been enhanced in any way.

Despite its flaws, Disney and Pixar still have a way of dispatching tragedy that can break even the most cynical of critics. A spiritual send off may have been predictable BUT it still tugged a little at the heart strings.

The role reversal of the cavemen being more primitive than their prehistoric predators was a nice touch BUT had the gang NOT heard of a film called Ice Age? The introduction of Spot (Jack Bright) helped set up a nice pairing after a heated scrap. One that gets them lost and far away from home. The relationship helped keep the formulaic journey watchable and delivered the little chuckles as the pair put their differences aside to get back home.

Steve Zahn’s (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) pterodactyl Thunder Clap was probably the only other memorable character. He delivered the laughs but soon overstayed his welcome once he began to repeat the same gag, a mispronounced expression. One that was hardly a “relevation”. Yup, that bad. Things did take a slightly better turn when Thunder Clap decides to put Spot on the menu.

The stalking and chase sequences were racy and picked up the pace. The fins surfing through the skies like something out of Jaws was brilliant. What annoyed me was that Pixar were always able to bring a different take on something we’ve seen before. Inside Out was essentially a different take on Osmosis Jones.

The dinosaur angle wasn’t used enough in this. The idea of T-Rexes being ‘cattle handlers’ was cute BUT entertaining? Not for me. Sam Elliot did what he does best. Grumbling in an inaudible style and sharing his words of wisdom BUT it was far too corny for my liking. It took me until the credits to realise Anna Paquin (X-Men) was voicing one of the other T-Rexes.

Maybe Pixar’s charm is wearing off on me. For the wonderful animation and nicey nicey moments, it was rather disappointing. This ranked en par with the Plane movies. Watchable for the little ‘uns BUT it didn’t soar high enough for me.

2.5/5

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON REVIEW

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Did the second instalment do what the first couldn’t?

Was I left fuming yet again? Or did I have to swallow my words?

They’re back. Bigger, badder but better? There’s only one way to find out.

When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) try to jump-start a dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron (James Spader), things go horribly wrong and it’s up to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to stop the villainous Ultron from enacting his terrible plans

I will admit straight off the bat. I really didn’t like the first Avengers. I know? SACRILEGE! It just didn’t do it for me. Overlong, mind numbing and overhyped. If not for Tom Hiddleston’s superb turn as Loki and a thrilling 30 minute closing crescendo, I would have given up on the franchise.

I was furious at how rushed the endless superhero entries were. Just to get to the Avengers release date. Okay, the Thor films were fantastic. Hawkeye and The Black Widow didn’t even get an origin story. Iron Man 1 and 3 were good. Don’t get me started on 2.

The numerous Hulk origin attempts with Bana and Norton misfired (I actually liked the Ang Lee blockbuster. What?). Captain America was rushed. I was happy to see more of the superhero fighting in the past. BUT the Winter Soldier sequel did restore my faith a little.

Inevitably after the crazy money that the first Avengers film took, we had another. And after much deliberation and note taking, I can firmly say . . .

Well done, Mr. Whedon. You have won me over.

The opening was racy, fast paced and straight to business. The team finally gelled together and in the zone. The special effects were fast and furious. The overuse of CGI did make things a little too cartoony in parts. But how else are they going to create a nine foot Hulk?!

There were numerous SHIELD references that went over my head in the opening. I knew it had something to do with Marvel Agents of SHIELD but I’m not that big a fan. It might help to recap on Thor or the first Avengers as a certain sceptre is used quite heavily again.

Whedon’s witty one liners zinging left, right and centre like the endless cannon fodder. The banter between the team was top notch. The old fashioned Cap (Chris Evans) telling Stark off for using foul language being an ongoing joke was a particular highlight.

The team dynamic really worked for me and made for great viewing. I mean even the scene in which the gang were trying to lift Thor’s hammer as a drunken party trick shouldn’t have worked but was so funny.

Ultron was a perfect maniacal menace. Spader (Ol’ Red from The Blacklist) applying his gravelly gravitas with aplomb. The animation and detail was excellent.

I liked the brewing romance between Banner/Hulk and The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). The lullaby that they use to calm the Hulk was a nice touch even if it reminded me of Shrek and Fiona. But I honestly thought there was always something between The Widow and The Cap? Oh, that cheeky minx. Anyway . . .

Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson made a more convincing couple as the Maximoff twins than they ever did in Godzilla. My only quibble with Taylor-Johnson was that his character Quicksilver was very much like a character in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Evan Peters played him. He ran really fast. What was he called? Oh yeah. Quicksilver. Hmmm . . . Interesting that. Copyright issues were there?

Olsen was always my Kryptonite even if she has been in some terrible movies. But she did the role of the Scarlet Witch justice as did Kickass.

I wasn’t really bored. It just got on with it and zipped along. Dipping only in a few parts to allow some much needed character development on some neglected heroes. *Cough* Hawkeye *Cough* Black Widow.

Renner had taken to the role well. But he was so one-dimensional. I mean, come on Whedon. Surely you’ve seen Arrow? But without spoiling anything, Whedon finally ventured into his background and gave him more depth. He was able to stand out among the ever-expanding roster of superheroes.

The trippy dream sequences that the Witch uses to play on her opponents’ minds was interesting as we got a little peak into The Black Widow’s past; most notably her training.

It was funny, intense, action packed. Great acting (Check), top banter (Check), cheeky Stan Lee cameo (BIG CHECK!). There were a few surprises to be had. BUT I couldn’t help but feel that there were too many characters from the Marvel-verse being introduced. Paul Bettany’s The Vision was an addition that felt like a mish-mesh of everybody else and didn’t really make as much of an impression as I expected.

And considering the huge ensemble, there were a few faces not to make an appearance. Merely mentioned in a passing comment. I’m looking at you, ladies. Ms Portman and Paltrow.

Inevitably it is all left wide open for more. SPOILERS! Behave. BUT this time round, I cannot wait for the next installment. I’m actually a little excited.

Well done.

3.5/5 With grounds to change to a 4

NOTE: Obviously stay behind and endure the relentless credits for a cheeky ten second teaser.