The short version:
Astounding. The movie is exciting, hilarious, clever, and has some of the most exciting and interesting action sequences ever filmed. If you’re an Avengers fan, a comic book fan, an action movie fan, a comedy fan, or there’s any chance you’d enjoy anything on that list, then you will almost certainly love the Avengers. If you’re none of the above, your odds of loving it are still better than 50/50.
The long version:
The greatest danger (in my mind) in bringing together so many super-powered good guys is that it can be hard to find a villain or team of villains powerful or clever enough to pose a realistic threat.
I already enjoyed Loki in Thor, so to see him displaying both physical and mental prowess was exciting. He was charismatic and clever, looking both twisted and majestic at the same time.
Didn’t just one of the Avengers already beat him?
I’m actually retroactively impressed by the Thor plot after seeing this movie. (Thor Spoiler: Loki never bent himself on defeating Thor and as a result, Thor and friends merely defeated Loki’s guardian while Loki succeeded in orchestrating the end of an entire world–an effort which was only prevented by Loki’s own loss of confidence and a particularly powerful and pissed-off Odin.) In other words, we know Loki is capable of bringing down the planet and he makes it very clear very early on that he has no intention of doing otherwise. Brilliant and scarily clever.
The Plot (without spoilers):
There are definitely some question marks for the team at How It Should Have Ended to parody, but as far as viewers are concerned, the plot holds together, remains consistent (with enough twists and revelations to stay gripping), and doesn’t contain any glaring “why didn’t they just…” moments.
The Avengers and their Screen Time
The movie did a wonderful job of balancing screen time, giving each character at least two “WTF!?!? THEY ARE SO AWESOME!!!!!” moments, and most importantly, making each of the characters enjoyable and interesting. There was never a time in which I found myself thinking–as I have in other movies–“I’m really tired of this character. Let’s see someone else.”
I’m not an actor so I gauge good acting by this single criteria:
If I don’t notice a line or action being delivered poorly, then I’d consider the actor to have done good work. – Bastion
By that standard, all of the actors (most of whom we already knew rocked) were great. It’s a comic book movie about gods beaming in from the Odenheim to join up with super-powered humans to battle aliens, so there are obviously some sentences that must have felt really strange in the actors’ mouths, but the delivery was always appropriate, contextual, and believable.
The Credible HULK
I was worried about the Hulk for two reasons:
1. He’s my least favorite Avenger. 2. He wasn’t played by Edward Norton.
Fortunately, I was not only pleasantly surprised, but both Bruce Banner and his big green alter-ego became my second favorite character(s) in the movie (Loki stole it, as far as I’m concerned).
A note on the Avengers in general:
I’ve always been an X-Men fan but I had never been that big on the Avengers. I’ve read a few of their comics (mainly the ones in which they interact with the X-Men) and I’m familiar with most of the characters, but aside from enjoying each of the prequel movies (Thor, Ironman 1 and 2, The Hulk, and Captain America), I’ve never immersed myself in them. Something I noticed in this movie is how spectacularly branded each of the Avengers are. I enjoyed the characters in X-Men first class because I knew them–not because any one or two of them were cultural icons. I was awestruck the first time I saw Ironman and Captain America standing beside each other because that’s IRONMAN AND CAPTAIN AMERICA. When you finally see the whole team, together, ready to rock, well… I hope you managed to get to the bathroom BEFORE that scene.
What special effects? I never once felt like I was watching anything that wasn’t actually filmed in real life. In other words, the effects were absolutely seamless. I think we’ve finally gotten to the point where (at least in high budget movies) movie producers can show us anything they want. In the Avengers, they evidently wanted to blow our minds.
Action and Interaction
When I saw Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I was sure of two things:
1. The final battle was the most moving I’d ever seen. 2. It would be a few years before a movie topped it.
The action sequences through the Avengers were all exciting (and furthered the plot–not just unnecessary fighting), but the final battle(s) changed my world. I’ve always had a lot of faith in technology so even when watching incredible things that I’d never seen before (like the Matrix movies as they came out or Transformers 3’s war in the Chicago streets), I’ve never been terribly surprised that it was done. By the end of the last action sequence of the Avengers, I was amazed. I had winced more than three times. I had leapt from my seat in laughter more than three times. I had felt senses of excitement, fear, and vengeance multiple times each. The few times my mind was able to catch up with itself, I found myself marveling at the fact that I was seeing what I was seeing. This was a roller-coaster. Hilarious, moving, exciting, and awe-inspiring. Definitely worth the wait, the hype, and a second viewing.
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Thanks and thanks again. Keep rocking with all that you’ve got. – Bastion, of Grace at Arms