Avengers: Endgame

Posted: April 29, 2019 in Film reviews
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Directed by:  Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Scarlett Johansson.

Okay, let’s be very clear here, it’s my intention to make the following review as spoiler free as possible but obviously I may reveal snippets (nothing major) that you didn’t know, and I will talk about Infinity War, so if you want to remain completely spoiler free why not check back after seeing it.

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So here we are. More than ten years since Robert Downey Jr. first donned the mantle of Iron Man, with 21 films leading up to this one. That’s a heck of a lead in to a finale. Forget Return of the Jedi, you can even forget 007 given Marvel have given us almost as many films in 11 years as the Bond franchise has in 57. There was a heck of a lot riding on this, not least after last year’s Infinity War saw Earth’s* greatest heroes (* not all from Earth) battle Thanos and lose, allowing him to snap his fingers and eliminate half the population of the Universe.

It was one hell of a cliff-hanger, and people have spent the last year speculating how Thanos’ act will be undone, I mean it has to be undone, right? Spider-Man’s got a film coming out soon, so he has to come back, doesn’t he?

In the aftermath of Thanos’ snap, Earth is a very different place, a sombre planet where millions struggle to put their lives back together. Some of the Avengers had retired (Iron Man, Thor) whilst others struggle to keep things together (Black Widow, War Machine). Steve Rogers (Captain America) meanwhile is running support groups to help those affected by the loss of loved ones.

When one of the heroes thought lost makes a miraculous reappearance however, it seems there might be a way to save almost everyone after all, but it won’t be easy, and it won’t be without cost…

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Let’s get this out of the way early. I loved Endgame. Don’t get me wrong, I worried that the obvious reset that was coming might annoy me, but it didn’t, and yes the opening thirty minutes or so are slower than you might expect, but this is important to show us where our heroes are, and to show them grieving, because they lost people too. Once the film slips into high gear however, it barely lets up. Yes it’s three hours long (but it didn’t feel like it) and yes the Russo brothers have to juggle a huge cast, and keep multiple plates spinning at all times (which they do) and yes the mechanics of the plot might prompt a few “but what about?”s (and I think it will) but I can’t imagine anyone who’s a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) won’t love this. Sure, there might be minor annoyances over how certain characters are treated, but on the whole Endgame is a wonderful resolution to a story over ten years in the making.

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I’ll get onto the spectacle, but first I want to talk about the actors, because each and every one of them has made these characters their own, and it’s in no small part down to each of them that we care so much about Cap, or Iron Man, or Hulk, or Black Widow, and what Endgame does do, perhaps surprisingly, is give some of these actors some actual acting to undertake, and there’s some lovely stuff, especially from Evans, Downy Jr. and Johansson, and from some characters you might not expect (Karen Gillan’s Nebula gets quite a lot to do here, hurrah!) and I’d like to offer a big shout out to the ever infuriating (in a good way) Chris Hemsworth whose comic timing and ability to send himself up are second to none. Thor alone makes this film watchable.

And despite the sombre tone there is a lot of humour here, as there’s always been in the MCU, but it doesn’t feel out of place, and Hemsworth is ably assisted by Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Gillan’s dry straight woman/cyborg act, plus a whole heap of others, and it really is amazing to consider just how big the cast of this film in, and there are all manner of cameos of people who’ve made a small or large contribution to the franchise. Some I was probably expecting but some were (very pleasant) surprises.

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I don’t want to talk about the plot too much, but have to say that the payoffs in this film work, both in the homages to the films that led up to this point and its resolution. Several character arcs reach very logical conclusions here (although there’s one plot point I sincerely hope is undone!) and I’m not necessarily talking about character’s dying. This is a film that makes you laugh and cry, a film that hit me hard once, then twice and then, just when I thought it was done, hit me a third time with the most beautiful of bittersweet endings. It will be very interesting to see where Marvel go from here, but they obviously still have a very strong roster. I do hope we haven’t seen the last of Thanos because yet again Brolin gives us a villain with more depth than most. He is clearly the villain, but yet again he’s also clearly the hero of his own story. The film is a trifle confusing at times, and I think it’ll take a couple of viewings to work out exactly what happens in every plot strand, but if there are plot holes the rest of the film’s so damn enjoyable, I think they can be forgiven!

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Anyway, that spectacle stuff. For me it’s the characters that really makes this film shine, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy all the bangy crashy stuff, and there’s a heck of a lot of that here, scuffles, fights, skirmishes and god almighty battles, and they’re all exciting and none of them go on too long.

The sheer logistics of putting a film like this together are impressive enough, that it manages to also be wonderful into the bargain is nothing short of miraculous. Exciting, funny, touching, this film has everything and manages to be a very heartfelt love letter to the fans.

It’s a Marvel!

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