Review: AVENGERS: ENDGAME – Who cares what I think? You’re going to see it anyway…

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Review: AVENGERS: ENDGAMECritiquing the final installment of what is basically a 10 year long beloved saga is a bit like me sitting down and analyzing your favorite uncle. Sometimes he brings the best Christmas presents and tells you hilarious, dirty stories. Sometimes he shows up at Thanksgiving really drunk and tries to urinate in your sock drawer. But no matter what you’ve gone through with him, he’s still your uncle, you still love him and you basically always look forward to seeing the guy.
That’s about how I feel about Kevin Feige‘s (and the entire army of talent supporting his vision) work in the MCU. They’ve perfected the modern blockbuster formula to a t, basically reinventing the big budget paradigm in a way that every other studio has attempted – and failed – to emulate. Which has, frankly, been a savior for theater chains finding their ticket and concessions dollars drying up in otherwise leaner times. They make a lot of movies I enjoy, a few movies I love (RAGNAROK!!!), and some that I find a chore to sit through. But in all, it’s a remarkable achievement that’s unparalleled in this medium.
Avengers: Endgame, while not the final chapter of the entire MCU, it is at least a closing of the books in another sense. While Marvel’s Phase 3 has been all about passing of the baton and shifting the focus from the core trio of heroes that were the foundations of the series to growing in fun, diverse, and sometimes more outlandish directions. Thanks to the machinations of the ultimate bad guy Thanos, Endgame pulls that same spotlight back a bit to the core team: acting partly as celebration, partly tying a bow on the whole affair. Logical plot synopsis here is a fool’s errand, but suffice it to say that the film spends its running time devoted to the remaining Avengers going on a nostalgic, against-all-odds mission in one last effort to undo the Snapture that wiped out half of the universe’s population.
It’s a remarkable balance to achieve, and for about two-thirds of its running time, Anthony and Joe Russo, the stalwart, steady hands of the MCU for around half of its existence pull it off expertly and rather cleanly. For much of the experience, Endgame feels like you’re reading a really good graphic novel, heck – I imagine if you pair it with Infinity War for a great double-feature, it would be like spending an afternoon with an entire run of Marvel comics, albeit one that’s drained a bit more of its color than I’d like. Sadly, once again the Russos (or Marvel’s previs unit, take your pick) oversee a granite colored final battle that has a few strong “hurrah” moments, including one amazing one. But that final giant set-piece is devoid of a lot of the excitement that prefaces it in the film, and has a bit of perfunctory air, even reducing its key antagonist to a dumbed-down state. Another obstacle to cross.
With that said, there’s very little I can say that will sway you one way or another in regard to your interest in this film. You probably have purchased your tickets already, you might even be sitting in one of those theaters showing a 48 hour, 22 film movie marathon just to get to this moment. This three hour long moment. Long story short, it’s a mostly satisfying experience, with nice call-backs, some unexpected surprises, and some deeply emotionally resonant moments for a group of characters that audiences have largely grown to care for. If you like everything else that came before it, you’re sure to like this. Even some critics in our circle found they preferred this one over Infinity War. I can see why. I think Endgame, unlike Infinity War, has more fat that needs trimming and its running time really starts to weigh down on you – particularly as the aforementioned muddy third act starts to take over the proceedings. But to its benefit, Endgame is a more resonant and character-oriented experience that pays off your own decades-long investment in this world in spades, and much like crazed Thanos’ obsession with the concept, the balance that Endgame provides to Infinity War‘s plot-heavy structure acts a refreshing reprieve.
Avengers: Endgame is a bloated bit of spectacle, but it remains unprecedented. Not only as a part of a larger unit of cross-pollinating films, but also in its highly-pressurized task in serving as a definitive (mostly) conclusion to the most successful film franchise in history. No movie has ever had to do what this has been tasked with. That it succeeds 95% of the time is rather remarkable. Hawkeye is still really lame, though. So lame. How are they going to make a tv show with this guy?
Also don’t bother staying through the credits, unless you enjoy that sort of thing. There are ZERO post-credits scenes. There is a great comics creator cameo though. Keep an eye out.

14 COMMENTS

  1. This is a first: a review that says nothing about anything that happens in a movie.
    The fear of revealing “spoilers” has really gotten out of hand. (See Todd VanDerWerff’s article about this at Vox.) All it’s doing is rewarding megacorporations like Disney. After “Endgame” has been in theaters for a few days, I hope we’ll see some analysis — including spoilers.

  2. George – There’s no winning here at the outset, man. While I agree that spoilerphobia is at an all-time ridiculous high these days (and I honestly hope it subsides with this, Game of Thrones, and The Rise of Skywalker all bowing this year) breaking down the plot of a movie that is going to make potentially 250-300 million in its opening weekend, a sequel to something everyone already saw, which was a sequel to about 18 other films that everyone else saw just seems a little reckless.
    I do hope to produce a little something with more detail after this weekend though.

  3. There is an amazing amount of arrogance in that headline :) Hate to disappoint you but I won’t see this for years and years, not until it hits the discount rack. I haven’t seen civil war yet either.

  4. My husband bought his tickets a month ago for the Thursday night showing, lined up a sitter, has avoided youtube and the interwebs as though its the plague, and has instructed me to do the same as to not spoil the crowning glory of all that is the MCU. I do worry that this film will rely too much on nostalgia and be a bittersweet disappointment.

  5. I managed to get through, with my wife, all the MCU movies again before seeing Endgame tomorrow. I was surprised how much I enjoyed most of them. Most were at worst an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours, and about half of them were more than that. But Infinity War was shaky, which has me worried about tomorrow night. We’ll see. Trying to go in with low expectations.

  6. My sister’s going to see it with my niece, and I know they’ll have a good time. It is interesting to note that the downside of using human actors is that unlike the cartoon equivalent, they age. In a way that’s what makes the movies a bit more realistic.
    I’ll see them all eventually, but not at full price if I can avoid it.

  7. Mark: Go to a weekday matinee. That way you can generally avoid long lines and pay a lower price for the ticket. Concessions are also sometimes cheaper at matinees.
    And if you’re 55 or older, you can probably get a senior discount.

  8. “George – There’s no winning here at the outset, man.”
    I know what you mean, Kyle. The A.V. Club did a story about this dilemma. It noted that every critic knows not to give away a movie’s ending. But what do you do when a movie is ALL ending?

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