Review: ENDGAME

By Josh Muchly

Only half of the film is done right….

Upshot: The 4th film in the “Avengers” franchise and the 2nd part of the Battle against Thanos.

Spoilers: Yes

Rundown: It isn’t easy to make a solid second-installment one year after the first. Sometimes brand fatigue sets in, and rushed production results in shoddy pictures. THE MATRIX, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, HARRY POTTER, TWILIGHT, THE HOBBIT franchises and more have run into this problem. ENDGAME could have been shorter and better; however, I must say: as a former MCU enthusiast, I am not disappointed.

After 11 years and 22 films, this is the culmination of culminations. As far as payoff goes, I can’t imagine this will be topped. At least not for a few decades.

It’s peak “meta.” Not only do we witness the conclusion of events spurred in previous films, we revisit the events of those film while they’re occurring (as opposed to, say, flashbacks). It serves as homage and high-stakes adventure simultaneously. Good stuff!

Time-travel is re-imagined — but unexplained. A hungry and hyperactive Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) has a “stupid” idea, a sulky Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) creates a multiverse-tracking-device, and Bruce Banner/Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) jokes about time travel “not working like it does in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.” Okay…. They dub it the “time heist,” and we’re supposed to go along with it when we’re told the plan works. “Six stones. Three teams. One shot.”

Once they do go back in time, things start to (finally!) get interesting. For the next two hours skylarking and skirmishes abound. But only half of the film is done right.

Lowpoint: the pacing. My God, this movie crawls to the closing credits! Yes, the final battle against Thanos is pretty damn epic and emotional — “Avengers, Assemble!” However, it takes a long time to get us there. Out of 180 minutes, 90 of them are enjoyable. The first hour is dreary and boring and leaves too little time for the climax to unfold properly.

Some say the frequent callbacks make up for this. I’m not one of those people. Sequels CAN be quality standalone films. Thank goodness Chris Hemsworth’s Thor (“the Lebowski-of-Thunder”) livens things up with some humor, spark and a touch of grief.

Highpoint: “I am Iron Man.” I won’t say more than this: the phrase that took us by surprise in 2008 comes full circle to satisfy us one more (last?) time. It’s perfection.

Score: 4/7

Postscript: Something I’ve been worried about for some time now is this: how can we ever get back to the simpler superhero stories? The introspective kind? Compared to flagship IRON MAN (2008), ENDGAME is a hurricane. The legion of superheros we’re following now — devastated thought they might be after they lost the first battle against Thanos —  are bored. How can they ever go back to being local, neighborhood heroes — protecting Earth specifically — when there’s a whole multiverse of threats to fight? And, further, how could we be expected to watch them do it? I suspect this is exactly what Spider-man will be grappling with in FAR FROM HOME later this year.

Follow: @muchlymedia on Twitter (or email josh.muchly@gmail.com)

 

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