Reel Opinions


Saturday, April 27, 2019

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame is bound to be a pop culture event, much the way the original Star Wars was all the way back in 1977, or the very first Jurassic Park in 1993.  It is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it certainly is that.  It is also not simply a "comic book movie".  It is ambitious beyond belief, emotional, a joy to watch, and the kind of movie that young kids who watch it today will remember where they were when they first saw it years from now. 

That's the kind of movie-going experience that money can't buy, and this movie is more than worthy of delivering it.  This is not just a continuation of last year's Avengers: Infinity War, but it is the climax to the entire first 11 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Yes, that is a tall order, and what directors Anthony and Joe Russo have done is not only tie everything up to now up, but do so in a way that is impressive, surprisingly poignant, and exciting as hell.  There has never been a superhero movie quite like this one, no not even last year's Avengers.  I doubt there can be one like it ever again.  Even though Marvel will continue making movies off of their vast library of characters, I imagine they will never be able to recapture the thrill of creating a Cinematic Universe, something that had never really been attempted or accomplished before.  The way they have handled this whole series, and now this climax to the original cast of characters, they make it look effortless.

I'm sure by now you've heard that the movie is three hours long.  Not only does it earn its length, but it doesn't even feel that long while you're watching it.  There's barely a stumble, and never a dull moment as the movie juggles well over a dozen characters, multiple plotlines, and giving the inhumanly huge cast their chance to shine.  The screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely is incredibly smart.  It's paced beautifully, offers plenty of opportunities for humor without cheapening the drama of the situation, and constantly seems to be changing tone without ever missing a beat.  The constant change in tone is inevitable, as this brings all of the Marvel Movies up to now into one grand production.  And since each individual movie and series had its own style and tone, the way the movie juggles this constantly is a thing of beauty to watch. 

And then there is the direction by the Russo Brothers, which really cannot be denied.  The way they have pulled off this entire spectacle is something to behold.  They have juggled the varied tones of the wide range of franchises they had to include in one movie with grace, and they have got the best performances possible out of a cast that is daunting when you think about it, and even more so when you read how long the list of names are during the end credits.  This was an extremely delicate balancing act, the likes of which no filmmaker had ever attempted before.  I really do think that everyone involved with this whole Universe up to now deserves some kind of special recognition, as this is something that had never been attempted before, and not only have they succeeded beautifully, they surpass expectations.

But this goes beyond a spectacle.  It is also filled with a lot of small, intimate and human moments that are powerful and effective.  All your favorites like Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) are here, along with a ton of others.  In my personal opinion, it is Dr. Bruce Banner/the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) who steals a lot of the show here.  All of them are coping with the events of Infinity War in their own way.  Some are holding out hope, some have moved on, and some are wallowing in depression.  I'll leave it to you to find out who is doing what.  We get to see a world after the biggest loss in superhero history, when Thanos (Josh Brolin) ended 50% of all life on Earth with just a snap of his fingers.  And yes, Thanos does still look like the bizarre alien offspring of Bruce Willis.  Regardless, there may still be a way for the heroes to strike back, which again, I will leave you to discover for yourself when you see it. (Not if you see it, mind you.  When.)

But the movie is not just about the continuing war against Thanos.  It is about the various heroes dealing with themselves, coping with loss, and discovering the best way to go about their plan to combat the threat.  That is truly what makes Endgame so engaging.  There are multiple character-building moments here, and scenes that are bound to deeply touch the hearts of just about anyone who has been following these movies from the beginning.  This is not just a blockbuster, but a study of these characters we have grown to love.  And when these characters reach their respective conclusions and endings, it feels earned.  This is the rare superhero movie that can be as moving as just about any drama.  As always, there will be no spoilers here.  I truly hope that you can avoid any and all talk about this movie before you watch it.  Trust me, it is worth the effort.

So yes, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will continue.  And yes, Endgame will shatter any and all box office records in the days and weeks to come.  But this time, it's all worth it and then some.  Whatever you think of the Marvel films, or superhero movies in general, set aside all your expectations.  This is an experience to be savored, and one to be viewed multiple times.  For those of you who have loved these movies, this will be one to treasure.  For those of you who love the comics as well as the movies, this will be Nirvana. 

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