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REVIEW – Avengers: Endgame

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Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Edited by: Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Music by: Alan Silvestri                                                                         
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Benedict Wong, Josh Brolin
Year: 2019

It’s been about 11 years since Marvel began this grand experiment that would change the way that people looked at superhero movies forever – yes, arguably even more so than Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and probably more so than even Richard Donner’s Superman. Twenty-two films and counting, all standing alone and yet tying into one another (with a few fringe TV shows on the side that are themselves ostensibly part of the same universe) and culminating into two films: last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, which saw Marvel doing the unthinkable and delivering on the promise that Thanos – the big bad teased at the end of the first Avengers film six years prior – would live up to the hype and even see the studio doing the unthinkable by letting the villain actually win, and now this film, Avengers: Endgame, the film that would feature the surviving heroes – conveniently including the ones who started it all – returned to the spotlight and going on a journey to correct what went wrong in what is arguably the most deserved victory lap film any studio has ever deserved. Does this one, with Infinity War setting the bar so high, live up to the standards set by its predecessor?… Well, if it doesn’t, it pretty damn well comes close!

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To talk about the film’s plot is to walk into a minefield of plot spoilers, so I will do my best to avoid those for the few of you who haven’t yet seen it (and since it’s earned already more than $2 billion in as many weeks, there’s not many of you who would consider reading this at this point who likely hasn’t seen it, but still…), but basically Endgame picks up right at a point in time when Thanos did the unthinkable, but from a notably different perspective. From there on, the film takes some liberties with time – not just a jump forward in time, but… well, if you’ve seen the Ant-Man movies, you’ll know that the word “quantum” was going to describe quite a few things in this film, too. The remaining Avengers are licking their wounds, and life in the universe has struggled to move forward with anything resembling normality. Trash seems to pile up, ships have drifted up on shore, and people attend grief counselling groups. But then… well, an idea is proposed that, despite a great number of risks, could potentially allow for the Avengers to undo what Thanos has done and give him a taste of his own medicine. And… so they do it. And… well, it was quite awesome!

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Again, I really don’t want to get into specifics about this, but if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t, hopefully I haven’t given too much away. But, even so, this is ultimately a film that’s less about developing characters you’ve never seen and instead is about putting a definite period not just on this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but all that has come before, while leaving open the opportunity to continue to explore this world. Had this been the last film we ever could’ve expected from Marvel Studios, I would have been completely satisfied, and yet the fact that we already know it’s not doesn’t spoil the things that happen here, either.

Avengers Endgame - Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Karen Gillan, Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Scarlett Johansson

In many ways, this is the end, and in many others, it’s a new beginning, too. It’s a cliché, but it’s a well-done cliché, and while some of the mechanics of the things that happen are still kind of murkily explained and executed, it’s to be expected with the plot device it’s centered around. It is a bit of a shame that we don’t get to see these characters in new contexts in this film, but after 21 previous films, I’m willing to accept that perhaps I was expecting too much from films I have always described as, again, “victory laps” that celebrate the standalone films that came before it. I might take issue with the minutia of how things happen, the unintended implications that might exist for certain actions that are taken, and this spectacle-laden film itself doesn’t even feel as groundbreaking and impactful as its more unexpectedly character-driven predecessor. I might have even left the theatre thinking “I could’ve done with another hour or so,” despite the bladder-challenging 3+ hour runtime. But even with those quibbles, I can’t honestly say that I didn’t think this was a genuine achievement in filmmaking. It satisfies – maybe not for all fans of all the characters, but for a good number of them, absolutely. And that final battle… That’s where I really could’ve used that extra hour or so. So freaking awesome!

Avengers Endgame - Assemble

Sure, it’s oftentimes a lot of fan service in the name of putting money into the House of Mouse’s pockets, ultimately, but it’s not unearned, and the characters are largely served well by the film, as well, so I can’t really complain. As a wise, time traveling sage once said, “Shut up and take my money!” And they did. Twice. And they will a third time…. And probably a fourth, for good measure. And, lo, it was good.

The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 4.5 / 5

  1. October 21, 2019 at 10:49 am

    The empty churnings of last year’s “ Avengers: Infinity War ” ended on an impressive, if tentative, note of loss: a batch of beloved characters was reduced to ashes, murdered by Thanos (Josh Brolin), who, enabled by his possession of the six Infinity Stones, also killed half of all other living beings. The sense of grief, though, felt brazenly manipulative; given that the reversibility of time was planted as a plot element in the film, it was a foregone conclusion that these heroes would somehow be coming back in the next “Avengers” installment. As it turns out, the effort to bring them back is the story of “Avengers: Endgame,” the last film in the series.

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