Yesterday I went and saw The Avengers alone, at last, in the World Exchange theatre. The screen is fairly small as screens go, and there were maybe twenty people in the theatre (half of whom either did not know or did not care about the post-credits scenes, as they walked out before them).

Observations:

- As IMDB observes, the Cyrillic sign seen just before Black Widow's interrogation scene with the Russian mobsters has random Cyrillic characters on it.
- Black Widow herself being Russian, well --- they credit Rosetta Stone in the end credits, and that movie should be an indicator that no, Rosetta Stone will not make you a native speaker. The Russian was grammatical, for the most part --- except for the line that is something like "just another pretty face", which is word-for-word correct, but infelicitous: you don't use that expression in Russian, you skip the "another" word. Black Widow's reply, "You think that I'm pretty" uses "krasiva", the short form of the predicative adjective, which sounds unnatural. And the repeated phrase "to move tanks" - "tolkat' tanki" actually means "to push tanks" and I automatically parsed it as meaning "sell on the black market" as in "push drugs" but I never quite figured whether they meant it as tank sales or tank transportation.
- The syntax may be mostly okay, but the phonology was atrocious. Somebody should have sat them down with the IPA, rather than using Rosetta Stone. In Soviet Russia, consonants palatalize you, and it was the consonant palatalization that Black Widow and the "mobster" kept missing on. Both their accents were horrible. My brother agreed with me, saying that he was snickering in the theatre when he saw it with a friend, and people were staring at him, because that moment in the scene is not at all funny.
- What bothered me was the actor playing the mobster. Sure, you want Scarlett Johansson for the female lead. But what was wrong with getting a Russian-speaking actor to play the mobster, instead of someone who spoke in some mix of a Polish and American accent? (Jerzy Skolimowski, apparently, who is a Pole and speaks like it.) The Tom Clancy movies hire Russian actors for the minor roles: the only reason I saw "Sum of All Fears" is for the thirty seconds in which a family friend of ours plays the Russian Minister of Defense (the Russian President's wife in that movie spoke way better Russian than the President, Ciaran Hinds, did). Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had two well-known Russian actors in the Russian roles. Why pick a Pole for a Russian job?

It made me be deeply suspicious of whether the little girl speaking Hindi actually spoke it well, but M'laah Kaur Singh does apparently speak Hindi and Punjabi, although she was born in Illinois.

After the foreign-language scenes were over, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I liked the pacing of the dialogue, that they give each other no chance to breathe before the next line. This is the kind of movie you sit back and soak in, rather than racing ahead of the plot. I want to own it on DVD, so I could watch it several times over.

It occurred to me as I watched the battle scene that the plot of Avengers 2 could be the wives and husbands and parents and children of the slain Chitauri coming back to, ironically, avenge their slain. Although apparently they're biorobots. Still. They may be ugly, but they had lives and feelings, and being slaughtered in another universe, with no chance for the ones who loved you to even see your body again, is a very lonely death.
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