Movie Review | Avengers: Endgame
Movie summary: After the devastating events of Avengers: Infinity War, the universe is in ruins. With the help of remaining allies, the Avengers assemble once more in order to undo Thanos' actions and restore order to the universe. (IMDb)
Avengers: Endgame is an extremely tricky movie to talk about without spoiling some aspect of the story or some detail about the characters involved. Even so, I'm going to push forward and do the best I can to explain just how unbelievably good this film is and why - it might be irritatingly vague, but this really does deserve to be seen without knowing anything about it.
Very little of the movie was shown in the trailers outside of the first twenty minutes, and even what happens in that initial section of the film might shock some viewers. This is story that is wrapping up over a decade's worth of inter-connected but separate stories and bringing them all together for one last hurrah and providing a definitive ending for some of the characters.
Endgame certainly lives up to its name, and the stakes have never felt higher than they do in this movie - thanks in large part to just how good Infinity War was in setting everything up. As a two-part story, this is one of the best ever in any form of media thanks to how well everything comes together to create a brilliantly cohesive whole. Now, that's not saying it's completely perfect, but even then you can understand why the creative team behind the film made the choices they did. There are a number of 'ending' scenes for this movie that evokes memories of Return of the King, but each of them is still meaningful and filled with emotion, allowing the audience to say goodbye to some of their favourite characters. Going forward, it's difficult to see how Marvel Studios can possibly live up to the sheer scope and scale of Endgame, with Spider-Man: Far From Home the first to see how well the MCU will cope considering the franchise-shaking changes in this movie. For a series of movies that some decry as 'safe' (how!?!?!), Endgame has changed the world for its characters forever. Enough about what comes next though - no matter how impressive it is that a movie with such a feeling of finality is also doing the work of setting up multiple future movies - I'm writing this to praise Endgame in a manner of which it is deserving. And it's not even done impressing with being an ending and a new beginning, but also serves as a reminder of where we've come from. Re-watching other MCU movies before coming to Endgame is something that many people have done in preparation for this movie, and it does act as a reward for those invested in this cinematic universe. The middle third of the film acts effectively as a victory lap for Marvel Studios as previous films are referenced and homaged in a variety of inventive ways.
Some will put this down as merely 'fan service', but it really isn't. Everything here works to advance the story, or provide another moment for the characters to shine. There might be the odd moment here or there that might not work for some viewers, but they will for others - at worst, there's maybe one or two lines that didn't entirely work for me. And that's pretty crazy for a three-hour long movie. Endgame is actually structured pretty well, almost perfectly dividing the movie into three distinct sections and making sure that the audience is never lost about which characters are where or what they are doing at any point in the story. At first, we get what is effectively a post-apocalyptic story; then there's the 'victory lap' section; before the grand finale where we finally enter the endgame. Now, Thanos isn't quite as effective an antagonist in this movie as he was in Infinity War, but there's a damn good reason for that. Even then, he still retains an incredible screen presence for an entirely CGI performance and credit must once again go to Josh Brolin and the VFX teams for bringing the Mad Titan to life - Thanos sets new benchmarks for blockbuster villains in many ways. Downey Jr and Evans are the two live-action performances who form the core of this movie for the Avengers, and both give what is possibly their best performances as Tony Stark and Steve Rogers respectively. Even when they're joking (and Endgame matches Infinity War in being shockingly funny at times), they remain absolutely true to their characters, which makes the more serious stuff land all that much harder considering their respective fates. Going forward, it will be interesting to see what happens with the Avengers name, as it really does feel like this era is over. The final showdown between heroes and villains is epic beyond words, filled with incredible visuals, inventive action, character moments and still manages to work in a number of laughs from both expected and unexpected sources. Avengers: Endgame earns what would usually be criticised by most as a wall of CGI smashing into another wall of CGI thanks to just how well the script works to bring everything together. The stakes are as high as can be imagined for the heroes, but it's the fact that there's something from practically every other Marvel Studios movie pulled into this one in some for or another that feels just incredibly cathartic, delightful and exciting as it could possibly be if you've watched all the other movies. Maybe some viewers might be a little confused by some of the references, but chances are that they don't even notice them and won't even notice they're missing something. As an example, there's a Captain America: Winter Soldier homage that is done to perfection in the middle section of the movie that fans will love, but the script makes sure that anyone who missed it (and if you have, go and watch it now!) won't feel left out. Endgame also has what has instantly become pretty much my favourite score in the entire MCU so far, with Alan Silvestri making great use of the Avengers theme; a brilliantly-subtle use of the music from Vormir in Infinity War that sets up very early on what will happen to two of the original Avengers; and then some peaceful, quieter, and yet bittersweet pieces of music that really help get across the emotion of the multiple ending scenes.
Is this movie better than Infinity War? I'd say yes, but I don't think it would be if that film hadn't been as good as it was. Is it the best in the MCU? That's a tough one, because so much depends on how the events of this film continue to shape the stories yet to come. All I know is that it's the best film I've seen so far this year by a sizeable distance and a fitting end for the team we know as the Avengers.
Avengers: Endgame is the most perfect imaginable 'conclusion' to what has been dubbed the Infinity Saga and the original group of Avengers. It's a long movie but, just like Infinity War, feels much shorter than it is and when you do reach the end, you'll just wish it could keep going and going. Even with the finality of what happens here, I can't wait to see where the MCU goes next.
Why a 10/10? Because that was really difficult to write without giving away any spoilers! Much like Avengers: Infinity War, I'll probably end up doing an "Everything I Love About Avengers: Endgame" post at some point way down the line when it's safe to discuss the events of the movie without pissing off a lot of people and giving away the story.
Honestly, there are so many moments, scenes, sequences, lines (serious and comedic), performances (same), character interactions, references, Easter eggs, musical cues and action scenes that I would love to talk about but can't without spoiling something for someone.
In all fairness, that really does go to show just how great the screenplay for this movie is: the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always been about the characters first and foremost, often using the perfect casting and incredible chemistry between them all to gloss over the weaker parts, but every single frame of this film is integral to each other that it's impossible to separate the characters from the story.
As I said above - and in my scoring guide - a 10/10 doesn't mean perfect and I don't think Endgame is some flawless diamond, but I do think that it is the most perfect way for Marvel Studios to close the book on this first 'Saga' and I wouldn't really want to change a single thing that's been put on screen here.
Avengers: Endgame isn't just a landmark moment for the MCU, but for blockbuster film-making as a whole and it entirely deserves the insane, frenzied level of interest that it's currently getting around the world. Marvel Studios changed the game with Iron Man, stepped it up with The Avengers, took control with pretty much their entire Phase Three line-up and then, much like Thanos, reduced their opponents to dust with the double knockout blow of Infinity War and Endgame.
It's going to be a long, long, long time before we see anything like this movie again.