Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame ★★★★

"This is the fight of our lives, and we're gonna win."

Boy, if you want to see some smelly neckbeards cheer and cry at a movie, you gotta check this out.

No spoilers, I promise.

Except SNAPE KILLS DUMBLEDORE! Oh, wait, wrong franchise.

In what's truly both part of the theatre of the absurd and peak cinema of the 21st Century, Marvel's epic-to-end-all-epics Avengers: Endgame finally hits the big screen this weekend. You've probably heard about it.

Beckett, on the other hand, is as clueless as Nagg and Nell.

I read a lot about Endgame -- the legendary minimalist play, that is -- within the last week, and if there are possibly any threads of similarly with this gigantic larger-than-life blockbuster movie that's going to make a metric buttload of cash. I found a neat essay by theatre critic Clarissa Olivarez that begins thusly:

In Samuel Beckett’s 1957 play entitled Endgame four characters are placed within a triple-walled, minimalist stage. Although the characters seem to be the last remaining people on earth (with the exception of the young boy who briefly appears outside of the walled interior), they each seem to resist any and all physical, human contact with each other. Each potential touch and interaction between the characters is mediated by a prop, so that each point of contact only takes place when two characters touch the same object (barrier) that lies between them. It is my contention that Beckett deliberately eliminates any bodily contact in order to further emphasize and solidify the sterility present within this environment.

Cool huh? I like that part about "last remaining people on earth," and a prop mediating things. Infinity stones and the Power Glove (what I prefer to call it -- "I love the Power Glove; it's so bad" -- thanks The Wizard) for sure. I dunno what all that means, but hey, it was worth a shot. Ham and Clov, they're probably Cap and Thor. Nagg and Nell? Ironman and Spidey, duh.

Obviously this film has so much to live up to. When Marvel/Disney announced it would be literally over three hours, I groaned, as most of you know I do like these silly films but I'm no superfan. But I've got to say, this is one of the most engaging and fastest-feeling three-hour movies I've ever seen. To me, Infinity War was pretty good but needed cuts. Parts were pointless and dull to me even if the second half was just fantastic. Endgame, on the other hand, even though it's a half hour longer never once lags or feels superfluous. That's quite a feat.

So, much like in Infinity War but to a higher degree, it's really a herculean effort to manage this many characters and this many intertwined stories that blend together in an ultimate gigantic conclusion. Yes, it takes an effort -- 10 years and almost two dozen films -- by the audience as well, as of course this particular movie would make no sense at all to a casual viewer. (Tip of the cap to those girlfriends out there who see this behemoth with your boo this weekend. Tell him he owes you something special. If he's still too busy worshipping the purple scrotum face of Thanos, give me a call.) But still, to remain focused after all those movies -- some good, some great, some forgettable, some kinda bad -- and make sense of this epic story is a theatrical singularity that may not be duplicated by any franchise ever again.

The effects in this film are much like the previous, but jacked up to 11. That's not always good. Again, at times it's literally an animated movie. Can you imagine the amount of green screen acting for this? That's both amazing and sad, that only films that double their budget with effects can make nine figures in the theatres today. However, I actually expected even more/worse, so to see some real acting and less cartoonish look than I thought was kinda nice.

You knew there was going to be some quantum time shifting/travel mumbo jumbo, so that's no spoiler. The physics and logistics of it make for some great meta moments, even if the consistency and rationale is a little loose. It's okay. Space monsters, a magic superhero, talking raccoon... it's okay to suspend your disbelief about other things too. I didn't care much for all the talk about fate or destiny -- concepts for simpletons who decline to live by reason -- but that's all to be expected for a crowd-pleasing picture.

Speaking of crowd-pleasing, the film is also far funnier than I ever thought it would be. Yes there are serious moments and important emotional or just action-packed scenes, but it's also hilarious quite often. As usual, Chris Hemsworth is the MVP and is incredible in this movie.

Yes, all of your favorites are there, sort of, some much less than they may deserve to be and some far far more. Reveals are incredible and will lead to raucous cheering. It's worth the wait and even I succumbed to it.

And that's certainly the biggest takeaway from this epic movie, that it's profoundly one of the most entertaining and satisfying experiences I've ever had in a theatre. Satisfying films are often just simple or safe ones, and in lots of ways this is not either of those at all. Sure, you will guess a few outcomes, but you will not at all see many more coming, unless you are a chump and look for spoilers. Don't do that.

Ten years ago you couldn't pay me to watch Ironman. But when I finally gave it a chance like five years later, and heard that perfect -- allegedly ad-libbed -- final line, I knew there might be something to these silly films. And here we are, what feels like a lifetime later and surely through all the best and worst of my life, to the end of the game, and it feels good, y'all.

Added to The Best Narrative Films of 2019.
Added to 2020 Academy Awards nominees, ranked.
Added to Joe & Anthony Russo ranked.

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