So, I'd like to preface everything I say here, with a small caveat. What you are about to read may contain a number of superlatives. I would love to avoid such, but honestly for me this movie deserves every last one of them. Still, I will try to tone things down as much as my over-loaded brain can.
So, if I were to take just a single word to describe this film, I think I would have to go with "Amazing." While that is an adjective most commonly used to refer to one Spider-Man, I think It applies quite well here. The movie was mind-blowing, a once in a lifetime confluence of a great cast, superb writing, and impeccable direction. This, is a popcorn movie to end all popcorn movies. And, it is a movie that I feel that you have to see for yourself to fully appreciate.
An issue I will come to here, is that I want to discuss so much, but I want to avoid spoilers. There is a special sort of hatred reserved in my heart for people that litter their reviews with spoilers, and then don't tag it. So, I'd like to try something a little different, and make this a character study, since an ensemble piece such as this relies so very heavily on the characters. And rather than focus on Nick fury, or Maria Hill, I'm going to focus on the Avengers themselves... Grab a drink, this may well prove to be my longest
Captain America: This character epitomizes the concept of an iconic character. Dating back to the time of World War 2, he was created as little more than a piece of well placed propaganda. As such, as originally created, he is obsolete. And, the movie plays well on this idea. He is a character taken out of his element, and plopped down 70 years in the future, a future that he feels has no need of him. Chris Evans plays this well, and even if I think that the outfit they gave him looks horrifically out of place (from a color palette stand-point it is way too bright in comparison to the other characters) I think for the character and how he is portrayed, this works out surprisingly well.
Iron Man: Iron Man, in the comics, has never been a particularly likable guy. To be honest, he is an egomaniac, with not a single likable personality trait. He likes to be the center of attention, and tends to love alcohol more than is healthy. As with the two Iron Man movies, he was perfectly cast as Robert Downey Jr. The man brings all the charm that made him such a hit into the mix, with a heaping dose of Whedon-esque dialogue, to create quite possibly the greatest version of Iron Man to date.
Hulk: The Hulk is a beast, a creature of pure rage. In fact, it is his anger, that fuels his strength, and the angrier he gets, the stronger he gets. He is a man, that turns into a creature that is god-like in power. This is a wonderful bit of casting. In three movies, the same man has yet to play Hulk twice. This time around, Mark Ruffalo picks up where Edward Norton left off. And honestly, Ruffalo's Banner is perfect. His delivery of the lines evokes the tortured scientist at every turn, while injecting enough small chunks of humor to keep him from becoming a pale caricature. However, while Banner is stellar, Hulk himself is where things get fun. This is easily the best character in the movie. And one interchange between Hulk and Thor from late in the movie still has me laughing three hours later...
Hawkeye: Hawkeye is a character that I honestly think has no place on the team. His sole ability is that he is really good with a bow and arrow. Seriously, that's it. He has no power, and yet he stands among a group of god-like beings, and manages to hold his own. Jeremy Renner plays this character well, taking him on his journey from beginning to end without missing a beat. He manages to make this character that seems so useless on paper into a vital asset to the team. A testament to the writing, as well as the acting.
Black Widow: Black Widow, is up there with Hawkeye on the list of characters that don't belong there. She is just an ordinary woman, who happens to be an amazing spy. She can shoot guns with the best of them, and can engage in hand-to-hand combat in a way that can only leave you in awe. Scarlett Johansson brings a sort of raw sexuality and brutal physicality to the role, that at once makes her eye candy, as well as a force to be reckoned with.
Thor: The Man, the Myth, the Legend. Literally. This man is the god of thunder, armed with the magical hammer Mjolnir, he is a force that can battle the hulk toe to toe. Chris Hemsworth plays the role of the arrogant son of the all-father extremely well. His stubbornness, and single-mindedness leads to a number of conflicts, among the newly formed team. But in the end, the character's compassion for the people he has sworn to protect leads him to give his all in a battle that he could easily have turned his back on.
So yeah, the characters stand strong. And it is through the strength of these characters that the movie shines. Without this amazing cast, and the undeniable chemistry that they have, this film would have fallen. As it stands, the movie succeeds in every way possible. For me, the time it falters the most, is when the characters are alone. I could talk about all the rest of the film, or how the last hour is perhaps the most brutally awesome action I have seen in a movie... but I will let the other members of the Slamfist team talk about that...
Recommendation: I think it goes without saying, that you should see this movie. See it in 2D, don't waste money on iMax or 3D... The movie wasn't made for those formats. See it in 2D, and you'll be able to afford to see it again... It's a win for everyone.
Is this film theater-worthy: Oh HELL yeah. If you wait to see this on blu-ray, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. This film should...nay... DEMANDS to be seen on the big screen, with a crowded theater of fans. The energy of the crowd, only serves to fuel the feeling of epic-ness. You will lose that feeling if you wait for the disc. See it, and then see it again. if you're a geek like myself, you won't be sorry.
My Final Thoughts: This is how a super hero film should be made. Witty dialogue, excellent action, and a feeling of impending doom that is lessened only slightly by the fact you know there is going to be an inevitable sequel. Is it a perfect movie? No. Is it a perfect SUMMER movie? Indeed it is. So find a show time, call up your friends, and Assemble... this is a film that you will be talking about...
Frank's Final Score: 9.75 out of 10