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 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.
I absolutely loved this edit, I think the film has a better flow with the alternate opening and closing scenes with Maria Hill. Sam has restored just about as much as he physically could without compromising the use of unfinished scenes and the result is fantastic. Ashley Johnson's waitress has a fair bit more screen time now though it does seem a little out of place given she is quiet for the majority of it, but I love Ashley Johnson and the news interview at the end lets Cap'n have a nice bit of recognition.
if my enjoyment of the theatrical cut was 8/10 this definitely bumps it up to a 9.5
This is a great alternative way to watch The Avengers. With a lot of additional material added in, it fleshes out the characters in ways that add a lot of value and some insight, particularly Hulk, Captain America, and Hawkeye. The scenes are considerably upgraded from their original, raw look, and blend in almost seemlessly with the film, since Whedon used different camera techniques at different times anyway.
The net effect of some of the most notable changes here is to make the parallel between 9/11 and the Battle of New York more obvious. Maria Hill opening by talking about what a disaster it was, cut with the scenes of civilians climbing from rubble, really ground this in the human cost of super hero battling. I think that's the intention of the deleted scenes with the waitress and the cop at the end. The cop storyline ends with a bunch of unfinished effects, so sadly those bits are cut and his sub-plot doesn't seem to go anywhere. The waitress plot show aliens rounding up civilians and corraling them to be exterminated, like Nazi gas rooms...a perfect situation for Cap to bust up. It's pretty heavy for the film, possibly one reason why it was cut, but also really slows down the action and adds a fair bit of length. The film is almost definitely better without these scenes.
Overall, I think the theatrical cut is still my preferred version, as the Maria Hill opening/closing isn't as strong as Sam Jackson's. These added scenes are great though (waitress/cop aside) so it's a tough call. Thankfully, this is a great enough movie to warrant rewatching multiple times, both ways.
(Full review here: https://boxd.it/2OZ6Yp)