Gotta say, I was a little bit underwhelmed. The emotional spectrum was more limited than I expected it to be, a couple of the performances were kind of off (for a seasoned assassin, Scarlett Johansen sure was easily rattled, and it felt to me like Sam Jackson was phoning it in), the combat in the invasion scenes was somewhat repetitive and the alien invaders - zooming around Manhattan on their ridiculous "Sky-doo" cloud-runners while randomly pew-pewing their lasers at the scenery - weren't particularly threatening.
But what really disappointed me were some of the overly familiar story elements. For instance, how many more Marvel movies are going to end with the fate of the world hanging by a thread as our heroes race to destroy or shut down some conspicuously-located, force-field-protected, noisy, twirly-geared magical mystery machine? And why are these machines always powered by that increasingly familiar all-purpose wavy-blue Marvel "power glow"? Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America... by the end, with all that business on the roof of Stark Tower, it felt like I was having a flashback to the finale of the first X-Men movie. And so I'm saddened to say that the "whole" was definitely not equal to the sum of the accumulated parts.
But oh, those parts... those spectacular and incredibly crowd-pleasing PARTS!!!
To start with, not all the performances were disappointing. Huddelston was great as Loki - a truly dastardly sleaze-ball of a villain, taken to the cosmic scale this time around. Downey Jr's lovable rogue persona still brings home the bacon IMNSHO, and the writers give him some great zingers. Hemsworth, Evans and Ruffalo are all very good reprising their roles. Director Joss Whedon did a decent job of doling out screen time fairly and incorporating elements from the earlier franchise flicks in a relatively seamless and unobtrusive (dare I say 'organic'?) way. Also, the rumors about the Hulk stealing the show are true. They really ladled on the awesome-sauce for his scenes. No spoilers here, but there are three or four scenes with the not-so-jolly green giant that had the sell-out audience literally whooping, cheering and applauding. I would have paid 13 bucks just to see those Hulk scenes.
So I guess the bottom line is that I liked it. I enjoyed myself, and pretty much everybody in the theater with me walked out with smiles on their faces, discussing their favorite scenes or talking about the post-credits stinger. And most of the talk about the post-credits stinger boiled down to: "Who the Hell was that supposed to be in the post-credits stinger?" For those of us who knew immediately who the Hell it was, there was general fan-boy gushing and an almost giddy disbelief. Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil it for you. However, I will say that if this stinger pays off the way it could, I might be willing to forgive Marvel the Wolverine movie... but not Daredevil. Nothing will ever make up for that crime against cinema.
And that's my midnight ramble! I'll have some interesting new stuff up tomorrow, both here and at the Useless Eater Blog, but for now, I'm off to dream some super-hero dreams! Good night... and may Godzilla bless!