Knee-jerk review: "The Avengers"

1. $200 million opening weekend.  Millions of moviegoers can't be wrong, can they?
2. Hollywood marketing executives spend a lot of money to lure you into theaters on opening weekend, while Hollywood distribution executives make sure that their movie plays everywhere so there's zero chance you won't be able to see it when you want.  That is, first you make sure everyone wants to go and then you make sure everyone who wants to go gets in.  Unless you have a turkey on your hands, a la John Carter, this strategy of spending millions to make millions usually works.  Especially if your movie is a engineered to please crowds like this so clearly one is.
3. It is very entertaining.  We were pleasantly surprised.
4. It's a little slow to get started, but by the time the Avenger characters are all in the same room bickering and sniping, it really takes off.  The dialogue crackles and the actors share a nice chemistry.
5. The movie takes great pains to pair off as many different Avengers as possible for big special-effects fights and missions of derring-do.  You want Iron Man to fight Thor or Hulk to take orders from Captain America?  You got it.
6. Who would have thought that most of the laughs come not from Tony Stark, but from Bruce Banner and the Hulk?  Mark Ruffalo is pretty much perfect.
7. It's a lot more science-fiction/fantasy-based than you might expect, what with the aliens invading from another dimension.  Harder to suspend disbelief.
8. Scarlett Johansson makes a great redhead.  But her character pales in comparison to the other superheroes.  All she can do is pout and reload her gun.  Not much of a power.  It's almost laughable.
9. Hawkeye's pushing it as well.  He has good vision.  Neat!
9. Sam Jackson does... his usual impersonation of Sam Jackson.  It's getting a little old.
10. There's more fake-science technobabble here than in a typical episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
11. Don't worry about the plot.  It's barely there.  This is a movie of big moments and bigger set pieces.
12. And the third act climax (aliens attack New York City) is about as big a spectacle as we have ever witnessed.  Wow.  We also liked how the good guys started to really get their ass kicked, overwhelmed and exhausted by the sheer number of attacking villain aliens.  It creates a real sense of worry: can they pull this off?
13. Dig that flying aircraft carrier.
14. Who knew Robin Scherbatsky was such a bad ass?
15. And so the summer movie season has started.
16. You sort of have to see it, right?  Just to be able to be in on the water cooler talk.
17. Joss Whedon did it.  We didn't think he could.  But he did.

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