Man, am I pooped. My old ass went to the midnight release of THE AVENGERS last night, which meant I was up until 4am. Oh, don't worry, the Døg of Evil made sure I couldn't sleep in at all, so I have that going for me. Which is nice.
THE AVENGERS was rocking. As a comic book fan from way back in the day and a die-hard CHAMPIONS player in high school, this movie got super fights right. Iron man vs. Thor vs. Captain America alone is worth the price of admission, let alone Thor vs. Hulk, which alone was worth my $12. They were that much fun. And all of this outside of the fights against Loki (which really aren't all that spectacular).
I thought the acting was excellent. Marvel has done such a great job of type-casting that these people make it look so natural. Chris Evans is f-ing perfect as the squeaky-clean Captain America: dude looks like a walking World War II recruiting poster. Chris Hemsworth is a solid Thor, and Robert Downey Jr. has set the standard so high for Iron Man it's hard to imagine who could play the role in the inevitable re-boot five years from now. Scarlet Johanson is quite at home in the skin-tight bodysuit of Black Widow and Jeremy Renner does a decent job trying to make Hawkeye shine amidts far bigger "super" stars, but Mark Rufalo doesn't really do anything for the role of Bruce Banner. His CGI Ruffalo-faced Hulk, however? Holy crap on a cracker, the green giant totally steals the show.
And just in case you missed the memo? Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. My nerd-chub is still throbbing the next day. What? You want more Hollywood powah? Gwyneth Paltro gives good face as Iron Man's best girl Pepper Pots, and Tom Hiddleston's evil Loki grin is a slam-dunk.
I think the real star of the show is director Joss Whedon. Giving generous screen time to each of these A-list actors and their legendary super-characters was a major challenge, and Whedon pulls it off. Everyone gets a chance to shine. Whedon keeps the pace moving through the mandatory "all is lost" moments. He has to do some serious juggling to show everything off -- I'm betting there are two or three directors could have done it better, but 99 percent of them would have done far, far worse.
Plot-wize, it's kind of a thrown-together schmoz. Whedon has a lot to do and a short amount of time in which to do it. Where they are talking story, for the most part I was thinking "yeah-yeah, I know, you have to justify something so that people can square off in a super-powered battle royale, so let's keep it short, shall we?"
I'm not crazy about Loki as the choice for the first Avengers flick. Once you've got a Norse god and an alien army ripping the shit out of NYC, it's hard to step that up a notch for the sequel. And trying to keep track of god-powers vs. Iron Man's weaponry vs. just how super is Captain America, anyway? is impossible, so just don't do it -- sit back and watch the face-smashing.
The reason to see this flick at the theater? Fights, pure and simple. If you are now or ever were a comic book fan, THE AVENGERS is an eye orgy that will leave you spent. And I'm not talking about "graphic novels" or whatever the artsy, angsty, "we're Hipsters pretending to be nerds" term of the day is for the modern comic, I'm talking about the late 80s pulp where kicking bad guys in their Super-Nuts was what sold the books.
My final take: THE AVENGERS is why it's still worth it to see a movie in the theater. Don't wait for it to hit your home screen, because you'll probably be watching it again there anyway.