The plot of the movie ties in the origins of the both the original Avengers and the Ultimate Comics version of the Avengers, The Ultimates. The two villains are Loki and the Chitauri. Combining an Asgardian god might seem like an odd choice and, I'll admit, it is. But there are quite a few moments of displacement. At one point, Thor and Loki duke it out on top of a skyscraper. A skyscraper just doesn't seem like the right location to see these two fight it out but once I got past that it worked.
This movie almost feels like two movies put together. The plot starts out pretty slow, introducing character one at a time with lots of talking and not very much action at all. Some scenes just seem to go on a little longer than necessary. The film really takes its sweet time introducing the character, let along forming a team.
The second half really rams up the action. All of the scenes that got huge reactions from the crowd (and I would say there were probably about 15 of them) came in the second half. Overall, the movie felt a little long.
The Avengers remain largely unchanged from the first films. Thor and Cap get a costume upgrade. The Hulk's appearance was altered slightly and to look like Ruffalo. Loki's appearance was made more menacing. I was pleased that characterization from the previous films was maintained almost flawlessly. Banner and Loki were perhaps the two most changed in personality. Banner, under Ruffalo's vision, comes across as a quirky, brilliant loser who simultaneously fears and desires to transform into the Hulk. He refers to the Hulk as "the other guy." "The Other Guy" is more wild than previously show in The Incredible Hulk. He lashes out wildly without any real control or direction. As for Loki, gone is the mischievous schemer who accidentally stumbles onto the throne. This Loki is power mad and willing to become a mass murderer to get what he wants.
One of this film's best qualities is the humor. There are some EXCELLENTLY FUNNY moments that you'll never see coming. There are plenty of insider references that will make fanboys happy and I don't think average fans will feel left out most of the time. Fans of Joss Whedon's sense of timing and penchant for delivering the unexpected won't be disappointed.
This movie will make fanboys squeal with glee and beg for more. Casual viewers will likewise feel satisfied.
1LR Movie Review - 17 out of 20 - It's a Solid Hit!