In the aftermath of the first Avengers movie, a third Iron Man, and second outings for Thor and Captain America, alongside a couple of TV spin-offs and an "out there" new hero-team known as the Guardians Of The Galaxy, we find ourself returning to Earth's mightiest heroes for this sequel which culminates the story arc known as Phase Two in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) which is also a set-up for Phase Three, which will be complemented by a whole batch of other new films and sequels, including but not limited to more outings for Thor, Captain America, the aforementioned Guardians, and debut films for Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and a rebooted Spider-man.

So, if all that's crystal clear and leaves you chomping at the bit then you'll probably have a ball with Age Of Ultron. If that all sounds like a bit much, perhaps even approaching formulaic, then maybe you'll be mildly entertained at best, of, if you're old grumpychops here you'll be bored senseless.

Plunging straight into a seige upon some miscellaneous lair our current team of Avengers leap, fly, pummel and roar their way into action. Captain America (Chris Evans) wrangles the team as best he can, often derided by snarky Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) who's either piloting his own Iron Man suit or calling in a reserve of additional avenging automatons to help dispense justice, or, at the very least, serve as crowd control.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) wields his hammer and has adjusted even more to the modern world - thus any remnants of personality have all but vanished - whilst Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) have to make do with arrows and guns in lieu of actual super-powers.

Finally, Hulk (Mark Fluffaboat) rampages through wave upon wave of identikit villains, with his rage under some degree of control, especially when it comes to the soothing influence of Black Widow and, perhaps, some sort of romantic sub-plot...

Anyway, they're there to get Loki's sceptre from Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), an appealing supporting villain who gets one of the film's best jokes, but has an unfortunate lack of screentime. Strucker also has, under his wing, Pietro and Wanda, a pair of genetically enhanced twins - who for copyright reasons can't be referred to as mutants, or by their character's superhero names of Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), but that's who they are in "comic book lore".

But those two don't hang around, made especially easy by Pietro's super-speed and Wanda's mind control powers.

After all this malarkey, Stark has in his possession the sceptre, which has a gemstone containing some form of artificial intelligence. Alongside Hulk's alter-ego - scientist Bruce Banner - they try to harness this into a global peace-keeping force, though things don't work out exactly right and they accidentally create the malevolent Ultron (James Spader) who uses dormant robotic parts as a makeshift skeleton and recruits the twins to help him enact his evil plan.

Thus, we join the Avengers on a globe-hopping quest to tussle with Ultron and co, trying to figure out what he's up to and how to stop him.

Whilst it's nice that the film has a global scale and the set-pieces range across the continents, there's unfortunately a lot lacking in this adventure that means it feels more like four episodes of a TV show glued together than one balanced film.

Unlike even the first film, which I was largely indifferent to I must admit, the characters feel thinly drawn and lack strong personalities beyond the occasional quip, and often these moments of humour serve to push against the film's grounding, creating a distance from the potential consequences or threat of the on-screen events.

It's great that the film shifts the intent of the Avengers as an organisation towards making sure that people aren't in danger, but by and large the moments of heroism revolve around unexciting random extras momentariliy imperiled rather than any structured and impending threat.

It'd be nice if characters got individual moments to really shine, to show their flavour as a hero, as well as instances of how they operate as a team really being highlighted. Sure, there are moments where - for example - Thor whacks Captain America's shield with his hammer, but this feels more like a special move in the video-game tie-in than a great piece of visual storytelling. Similarly, a third-act swirling 360 degree shot doesn't really showcase teamwork instead favouring effects work.

Which is all a pity, as there are some intriguing ideas - big ideas - squirrelled away in the story being played out here, especially once some late-in-the-day plot twists occur (no spoilers here folks), but they're lost in the jumble.

Still, there's more than enough distraction up on the screen to provide fleeting entertainment, it's just a pity that it's passable at best, rather than a rousing, exciting, giddy comic book fantasy writ-large.