Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo Starring: The Avengers Running Time: 181 minutes
What follows below is a quick-and-clean, spoiler-free review of Avengers: Endgame. If and after you’ve seen the film and want something with more depth and detail to continue the discussion, we’ll be back next week with a second look, which you can read at your own risk.
One has to accept with Avengers movies that they’re simply operating from a different rule book to your standard cinema-fare. This isn’t in itself a diss, it’s just demonstrable that, even in comparison to the other offerings in the Marvel Universe, Avengers films are Events, Jim Starlin stories dug up in amber by the biggest theme park in town and cloned along with Wrestlemania DNA to plug the holes in the narrative code. That is to say they’re showbiz squared, all Big Moments, Big Stars, shocks and fireworks and fun in exhausting supply. They’re exactly what you want, as long as ‘you’ is spread out across a couple million people, but sure look, sometimes you should just have exactly what you want. Sometimes you’ve been through a lot and you deserve to go get a damn cheeseburger, just ask Tony Stark.
In its function as a Fan-Service cannon, Endgame delivers 100%, much more cohesively than its first half Infinity War, which felt like hours of moving chess pieces around and telling you it was epic just because they’ve got the Queen and the Rook. Reeling after Thanos’ universe-altering actions, the remaining Avengers are shown in this film actually reacting emotionally to their situation. Some are treated with more consistency and care than others, but given that long-time fans are adamant that what they enjoy most from these films is hanging out with Tony Stark, Cap and company as characters, it’s a point (or as below, a half-star) in this film’s favour that it takes its time dealing with their fallout from Infinity War. Mostly. It’s definitely true that Thanos big population-halving-plan, however thoughtfully presented, is pretty bone-headed when put under any moral or logical scrutiny, but it ends up being a help to Endgame‘s structure; its centered more tightly on a smaller group of characters, who are forced to look back at where they’ve been and where they are now rather than always pushing on forward to the next setpiece, the next post-credits scene, the next cameo. Once those left behind have decided that they’re up for a bit of avenging the fallen, it definitely feels earned, when they bring on the big fights, chances are you’ll be more than ready. Let Wrestlemania begin, just one more fight and I’ll be history.
As this is being billed as an ending to the 20-odd films that have come before, there’s a sense of introspection that no other Marvel movie has. No more origins, not much future setup, Endgame is a film of focus. Mostly a plus, but it does veer over into self-satisfaction, I like cheeseburgers too but McDonald’s doesn’t think I should weep after having one. For some of it’s longest-serving players, Marvel offers the reward of some genuine acting, giving the likes of Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans chances to flesh out the icons they’ve created in ways where the likes of Civil War failed. Perhaps inevitably, not all the storylines here stick the landing; it’s always going to bug this writer how the Marvel movies can spin the characterisation wheel at random for some of its heroes in-between installments, or lob inconsistent or incoherent plot threads in among the well set-up pay-offs. As much as Marvel deserve the plaudits they’ve always gotten for weaving several franchises together over so many years, it’s perhaps more blatant here than ever that they only plan a small number of bullet points ahead from film to film, and figure out the rest as they go. And sometimes that works and those bullet points are awesome, and sometimes it doesn’t and stories devolve into nonsense. It is what it is.
And what it is, also, is a conclusion that will likely leave fans happy – teary, but happy. It does, on its own merits, lack substance, but it’s difficult to call a series with this much quantity insubstantial at this point. You knew you were going to watch it before this review, you knew you were going to watch it before Infinity War. If you’re likely to cry, you’re going to cry. If you’re starting to feel over it, you’re going to feel more over it. Endgame is fun. Endgame is exhausting. Endgame is full of itself. Endgame sort of earns being full of itself. Endgame is an ending. And of course, it isn’t.
Endgame is inevitable. Where you go from there, is on you. Isn’t it always?(3.5 / 5)
Film In Dublin will return in Avengers Endgame: Further Thoughts, 30/04/2019