In its current form, The Avengers is one of my all-time favorite comic book films, not to mention one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's best installments. This fan-edit attempts to integrate previously deleted material into Joss Whedon's narrative with surprising success. While I did miss the chilling original opening with Loki encountering the Other, I loved the addition of Maria Hill talking to the World Security Council about the Avengers and Nick Fury. The way that this interrogation is written and acted adds a lot to the story and also adds a lot to Hill's character, which I really appreciated. I also really liked that there were more moments with Ashley Johnson's waitress character to add more of a ground-level human perspective to the Battle of New York. All the footage is put together fantastically from start to finish, and it further strengthens what was already a strong plot and characters in the theatrical cut of the film. This runs at just a little over two and a half hours long and yet the pacing is always smooth. I loved this, and it kind of makes me wish the deleted footage was kept in for its release in theaters, because they really do offer genuinely terrific character moments. Not to mention, more Ashley Johnson and more Harry Dean Stanton will never not be a plus.
I am very grateful toward samspider3 for making this edit, it is well made and the cuts are very seamless.
Unfortunately most of the added stuff has been cut from the final movie for a reason, and I think that only 1 or 2 scenes should really have made it in because they detract from the main story, especially the waitress scenes, the added Loki scene, and Maria Hill replacing Nick Fury in the council scenes I'm not too fond of because 1. Nick Fury is a much more interesting character and is better written and 2. Samuel L. Jackson is a better actor than Cobie Smulders, at least in my opinion.
However, the editing is VERY well done, 10/10 from a technical standpoint this is a marvelous edit, really worth your time. Video/Audio quality is much better on the original but that's only because the deleted scenes are not available in HD (they're not on the blu-ray). The added scenes add a depth to some of the side characters and even some of the main ones, like Cap. His additional scenes really stand out as the best in my opinion.
Still, the action intercuts toward the end detract from the story so I don't think this will replace my Avengers copy for this movie seeing as most of it is really superfluous. I do think every MCU fan should watch this at least once though, it's well worth it.
First, let me comment on the skill of the fan-editor, samspider3: in a word, Excellent. The edits here are virtually seamless -- it was only my familiarity with the source material that clued me in to what was being added and changed. If you aren't familiar with the theatrical release, you would never guess what was changed (except for one scene, which was unfinished in the source).
Now as for the movie itself, I have less kind words. The Avengers as theatrically released is practically a perfect movie. Sometimes movies are cut for timing, sometimes because of studio meddling -- but sometimes scenes are cut out because they just don't work. An archetypical example of this is the Jabba the Hutt scene from Star Wars Episode IV: not only is it a clumsy scene in itself, but it simply restates the much better earlier Greedo scene -- and in the larger scope, completely spoils Jabba's arrival in Episode VI. It is better and rightfully left on the cutting room floor.
Just about all of the scenes added in Avengers EE are of this nature. While I love Maria Hill, she's just not a significant enough of a character to bookend the entire movie around. Scenes with The Waitress just stop the movie cold, especially during the Battle. An added scene with Loki and Hawkeye seriously spoils the later scene where Black Widow "interrogates" Loki. And is there any one person in the world who is finally satisfied knowing where Banner got the motorcycle from?
Even so, as a die-hard MCU fan, I would recommend this edit for an MCU fan's collection. I enjoy the Universe, and this EE allows me to spend 11 more minutes in the Universe, and for that I am grateful.
In closing, here's an idea I'd like to throw out there: Kevin Feige recently commented that they would not be doing any more One-Shots. It might be interesting (if possible) to take a bunch of deleted and other scenes and re-cut new One-Shots out of it. The Waitress, for example: make a little mini-movie with her as the main character. You'd even get a Stan Lee cameo in it. Other possibilities are out there, too. That would be fun to watch.
I watched this with a friend who is a very big MCU-fan, much bigger than I am. We came to the following conclusions together...
The new opening/closing structure is excellent; it makes the SHIELD element of the story, in particular Maria Hill, a much for valuable part of the overall experience. This will probably be the best version to watch if you intend to then get into Captain America II, for example.
There were a couple of bits that felt a bit out of place, most notably the cop who - during the New York battle - gets into the fighting with an alien gun. It starts well, but then ends rather suddenly and seems to go nowhere. I can see what the idea was here...but this late in the film it doesn't seem strictly necessary. The waitress, on the other hand, plays out very strongly in this edit.
Deleted scenes were occasionally noticeable by a dip in visual quality - this was most apparent when Bruce Banner wakes up in a crushed warehouse...here he has an extended discussion with a security guard that takes place in front of a very rough backdrop of New York. Again, the idea is solid, but this might be one to leave out.
Audio editing was top-notch, I didn't notice any errors.
Enjoyment was very solid - I never found myself bored, and the flow was maintained excellently even with a full 11-minutes extra. Sometimes an extended cut can drag a bit, but this played very well.
Would highly recommend that this replace anyone's go-to screening copy.