Keep in mind that this is MY review of the movie. Your opinion may very well differ from mine.
Secret agency S.H.I.E.L.D, headed by director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), has gotten their hands on the Tesseract, also known as the Cosmic Cube. This alien artifact holds the potential to become a source of unlimited power for the entire planet. However, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) makes his way to Earth after having been defeated by his brother in 2011, and steals the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D, with the intention of using it to bring his own personal alien army to Earth so he can rule over humans as their king. With the planet literally at stake, Nick Fury gathers Earth's mightiest heroes together, including Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans), Tony Stark / Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson), and Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). With all of these clashing personalities together, though, they may not be able to stop fighting each other before they can fight Loki.
The Avengers literally had everything going against it. How could Loki be the villain when Thor was able to defeat him on his own in his movie? How are they going to wrap up the open ended plotlines that were left in their individual movies? How can they have over 6 main characters and be sure to give all of them equal treatment and screentime? Well, as it turns out, much like The Avengers have a secret weapon in The Hulk, Marvel Studios had their own secret weapon: director and writer Joss Whedon. Probably best known for his work on small shows with huge cult followings like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, Joss manages to do what many of us, including me, thought was impossible: make every single character important. Everybody gets pretty much the same amount of screentime, and the way the group interacts and works with each other is done masterfully. Hell, even HAWKEYE, who had a 20 second cameo in Thor, felt just as important to the team as the Captain or Iron Man. Another thing he's known for is being incredible with writing female characters and teams, and it shows, with how they all communicate and how Black Widow is a significantly stronger character now than in Iron Man 2. I don't know how he managed it, but he did, and did it VERY well.
Every character is sure to get their own highlights that you'll be talking about long after the movie is over. Even when there isn't action going on, the ways the group interact with each other is probably just as entertaining as the action itself, the action coming to a head in a 20 minute climac that was better than the climaxes of the 5 previous movies combined. In fact, one thing I wasn't expecting from the movie was that it is legitimately hilarious. Whedon is a master with creating natural dialogue that is funny, but not forced, and every character has at least one great moment that left the audience in hysterics, or clapping. Another concern of mine was that Loki wouldn't be a strong enough villain. As much as I loved him in Thor, how could he be a danger to Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Well, Loki has changed. A lot. He's gone from a sympathetic fallen prince of Asgard, to a dangerous monster with unlimited power, soldiers, and resources at his disposal. Within the first minute he's on screen, you believe that this man alone might actually be too much for The Avengers to handle. A movie can be as strong as its villain, and Loki is even stronger than he was in Thor.
Considering the talent that was at Marvel's fingertips, how well they've played their characters in the past, and a director who is known for bringing out the best from his actors, I was never worried that The Avengers would suffer in the acting department, and rightfully so. Chris Evans does a great job once again as the level-headed Steve Rogers, who is still coming to terms with being 70 years in the future, and his opposite, Tony Stark, is once again brought to life by a brilliant performance by Robert Downey Jr. Chris Hemsworth is great as Thor, now nobler, wiser, and struggling to cope with the fact that his brother is trying to take over the entire human race. Scarlet Johansson and Jeremy Renner both deliver solid performances as Black Widow and Hawkeye respectively. Tom Hiddleston once again does a fantastic job with playing Loki, no longer a jealous prince falling into insanity, but a dangerous force who won't stop until he controls everything. Samuel L. Jackson does a great job as Nick Fury, which is much easier to notice now that he's playing the character for more than a 30 second interval.
The big story in terms of acting was that Edward Norton, the last person to play Dr. Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, had a falling out with Marvel and was replaced with Mark Ruffalo. I was as disappointed as everyone else, seeing as how Norton was probably the best part of the movie. Ruffalo, however, does probably the best Bruce Banner to date, playing him as a man who has accepted his fate as a monster, and even has a sense of humour about it. When he gets angry, you really do believe he is genuinely pissed. He is also the first actor to play the Hulk through motion capture, and for once, the Hulk actually looks like Bruce Banner to an extent.
The effects used in this movie look better than they ever have before. These still aren't overly mindblowing, and they're not the best looking effects you will see in a movie, but everything still looks great, especially the Hulk who, as I mentioned, is now filmed with motion capture. The musical score was done by the same man who did the music for Captain America, and I mentioned in my review of the movie that I wasn't very big on the music. However, whatever he did there that I wasn't a fan of, he fixed it, because I really enjoyed the score in The Avengers.
There is always something happening, and at no point did I EVER feel bored while I was watching. If I wasn't in utter amazement at an amazing action scene, I was laughing at the incredibly well written dialogue. If I wasn't laughing, then I was getting invested in the characters as we learn more about them and what makes them tick. The film does have to spend some time in the beginning to wrap up some of the loose ends from the other Avenger movies, so it is a tad slow for the first 20 minutes or so, but once things start, they never stop, not even after the credits start to roll (it's a Marvel movie. Stay for the credits).
This movie was probably one of the, if not THE largest cinematic gamble in recent history, and it not only met the expectations, but exceeded them. Everyone feels important and is well written, the action is absolutely amazing, the film has some great humor, drama, even a little bit of tragedy to it. The movie looks great, feels great, and even at a runtime of two and a half hours, I still wanted to see more. When I genuinely, with all of my heart don't want a movie to end, I think that qualifies it for an Awesome rating. I sincerely hope that this grand success finally gives Joss Whedon the attention and credit he deserves. The Avengers has set the bar for the Summer movie season, and has set it very, VERY high. It's not perfect... but it's pretty damn close.
So, have you seen The Avengers? What did you think? Was I too harsh or too leniant? Did I miss anything? Let me know.
Edited by baylaust, 05 May 2012 - 04:34 PM.