I actually found the first half of the movie to be the best, contrary to other opinions I've read. I felt that the scenes that dwelled on characters' pasts and problem-solving added a lot to the movie, and the building of suspense was better than the unraveling of it.
Three of my main problems:
Whedon's trademark wit was definitely on display, but off-balance. Tony Stark's constant barrage of one-liners grew tedious and was quantity over quality. There's a reason it's called ONE-liners. (BTW, try drinking everytime something big or dangerous appears and we cut to a close-up of a helmeted Tony Stark going "uh-oh" or something similar) There wasn't a lot of the dialogue that was able to compete with the best of Firefly. Some, but not much. That was a shame.
Secondly, the tiny bit of subtext there was to the movie was really, really poorly done. Yes, we get the parallel when a bunch of Germans kneel to a power-hungry warlord. We *still* get it when an elderly German stands up and refuses to submit based on past experiences. Aaand we DEFINITELY get it when Captain America swoops in and goes "WOW, THE LAST TIME I WAS IN GERMANY, THERE WAS ANOTHER POWER-MAD GUY JUST LIKE YOU". Blech. Also, the visual 9/11 parallels are tired by now. Whedon is just usually able to do things in a fresher way. The ending TV montage was problematic in the same way - this is the kind of stuff that the first Spiderman movie got away with - wide-eyed hero idolization - but I feel that we should be past that phase when dealing with superheroes in movies today. The denouement was nauseating and cliché.
Finally, I felt the plot promised to be more than it was. There was a lot of suspense and interesting confusion about what was going on, but in the end, it was nothing more than the SAME "get glowing artifact, open portal to other world, call forth army of weird creatures." Again, I don't expect more from a Marvel comic movie, but I expect more from Whedon based on past experiences.
I think the best way to experience the movie is not to think of it as a Whedon movie (at least if you're a fan - in which case, something will feel like it's missing), but as another Marvel movie, in which case you'll be pleasantly surprised. (Wait, why am I saying stuff like this in the post-watching thread?) By doing that, I can give it a solid 5 of 7 stars. I was entertained, but hoping for something extra that wasn't quite there.
Edited by denstorebog, 26 April 2012 - 04:02 PM.