Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame ★★★½

Following the events of "Infinity War", what's left of the Avengers are defeated and demoralized, left to pick up the pieces and figure out how to live in a world where half the population has been snapped out of existence. Eventually, they make a mad, last-ditch effort to reverse what has happened...if such a thing is even possible.

I disliked "Infinity War". It was filled with hollow action set pieces that did very little for me. But I loved, loved LOVED the opening act of "Endgame". It is filled with surprises (even though I thought all of the big surprises would have been nonchalantly ruined for me by social media and random headlines, much as I tried to avoid them) and ruminations. It takes these iconic characters in directions I found fascinating and unexpected. "Endgame" is light on action, but it's a hell of a lot more interesting. I was really absorbed by seeing these superheroes deal with failure and loss and problems they couldn't change or solve by punching, for a change, how that affected them, how their world views and outlooks had crumbled and what that meant to them. This is incredible stuff, IMO, and so unique.

But then the Avengers find a possible way to fix everything, and I thought the movie got a lot less interesting. It got a bit too convoluted in this section, IMO. None of this stuff is terrible, there are some great and heartfelt moments along the way (especially when these heroes get a chance to reconnect with family members long dead) but it just doesn't have the mesmerizing impact and emotional weight of the opening hour of the film. It all culminates in a rock 'em, sock 'em finale (as it must, I suppose). That sequence is thrilling enough, but I still found myself missing the weight of that haunting opening hour. It's so damned good that nothing else in the film can quite compete with it. I did, honestly, find myself slightly tearing up at some of the final events (such is the advantage of building characters brick by brick over the course of a decade, I suppose). So it works just fine.

"Endgame" is pretty good. Not as spectacular and amazing as I'd heard, and the slower, quieter moments are where this movie lives and breathes and flexes its power. But, ultimately, I thought how these characters dealt with what had happened was a lot more interesting than how they fixed it.

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