Of course, having seen it twice already, perhaps that gives me a unique perspective. Or maybe I'm still just a fanboy. Either way, I will get into the review and leave it for you to decide.
The Up Side: With five feature length films worth of build up, a lot was expected of the culmination movie and it absolutely delivers. I had been trying to temper my excitement for the past week, but it proved unnecessary. In the first several scenes that Joss Whedon poses the classic super heroes together (while done obviously but tastefully and not too soon), my heart melted into childhood, goose-bumpy ooohs and aaaahs of wonder and awe.
The special effects are absolutely amazing throughout as they are in the trailers. The story line has the characters feeding off one another perfectly in both complimentary and adversarial ways. Each hero gets their own alone time while still being included as part of the group. I was amazed at Whedon's ability to use the special effects and highlight the splendor and enormity of characters like Iron Man, Thor and the Hulk while not glancing over the more human characters of Cap, Black Widow and Hawkeye.
All the things I had hoped to see were there...and more!
By that, I mean that the film is also extremely funny. No joke, it is absolutely hilarious at all the right times and every character gets to throw their hat into the comedy ring. Perhaps the best bits come when the action and comedy swirl together as they do in the best of Marvel's comic books, a testament to Marvel's decision to get a true geek like Whedon involved.
Everyone will like this movie due to Whedon's story telling ability. It moves fast enough to keep the kids interested but slows down when the story requires development.
By the way, Mark Ruffalo leaves no want for Edward Norton.
The Down Side: While my jaw is still dragging along the floor due to this awesomeness of this movie and my appreciation for Joss Whedon now knows no bounds, there are still a few items to through into this section.
There are a few racy moments that may make you uncomfortable with kids in attendance. A reference to drug use, sex, the obvious violence and some swearing will probably zip right over little ones' heads, but it's something of which to be aware.
It's also long. We're not talking Return of the King, but it is long enough such that even the most interested of children will more than likely require a bathroom break.
To appreciate the story, you should also see at least a few of the other movies. I am wary of placing this in the down side category because I think if you are going to see a movie like this, you should expect to have to see a few of the lead-in tales, but who am I to tell you what you should have done? If you haven't seen any of them (whaaaaa?) and want to save yourself time, see Thor and Captain America. They have the most important plot line insights while a base understanding of who Iron Man and Hulk are will serve you just fine.
Finally, as much as I have tried, I am not enamored by Captain America's new costume. My anger over it has cooled somewhat, but it still looks like he is wearing a set of pajamas compared to the rest of the crew, including Hawkeye and Black Widow. Cap outperforms his threads in my opinion.
The Wrap Up: If you like super hero movies at all, you will love The Avengers. If you don't like super hero movies, The Avengers is the best shot the genre has at winning you over. It's that good and that much fun. It has everything you want from a blockbuster. Kids and adults will walk out talking about their favorite parts like peers and they will all feel like they can barely wait for the next movie to come out.
Remember to say for the final scene which comes relatively early into the end credits. Without wanting to spoil anything, I will say it reveals an upcoming villain. If you have already seen it, don't recognize said villain and and want to know more about who it is, click this link.
Enjoy your trip to the theater for this one, readers.