In Brief: A Marvel Cinematic Universe ending and beginning. Brilliant. Too long but brilliant.
Avengers: Infinity War angered me. I liked the movie but after sitting through 2:30 of every conceivable super hero plot angle possible, it was shocking to discover there would A) be a sequel and B) the sequel would be a year in coming.
That year is up.
In the next few days many of you are going to hear more detail about the plot of Avengers: Endgame than you want to know. I hate spoilers. So do most of you. Some of you are going to read the details in reviews. Many will hear everything in accidentally overheard conversations.
Then there are those who are flat out mean and start telling you details when you don’t want to know them.
I hope no one spoils this one for you. There are lots of surprises, and surprises are always more fun when they’re — well — surprises. So as I sit here less than an hour after wrapping up the film’s 3:01 plus another 20-minutes of trailers and theater promotions, I’m struggling with how to review Avengers: Endgame and not give anything away.
It’s not impossible to do but it’s tough. There’s so much I want to tell you but can’t; observations I want to make that will not be made. Making them might ruin the story. Let’s just say, if you’re a Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, don’t wait for this one to come out on DVD, or to be released to Netflix, or the premium cable channels, or whatever.
See this one in a theater where it belongs, and if you can afford it, catch it in 3D.
Two quick points before the review. First, this will no doubt be the top grossing movie of 2019. It can’t miss. Second, like all super hero movies it’s too long. It could easily have taken a half-an-hour trim to 45-minute trim and been just fine.
The length is all that kept me from giving Avengers: Endgame my highest rating.
Avengers: Infinity War left us with the bad guy Thanos acquiring all of the infinity stones and defeating the Avengers and their allies. At that point, he makes half of the beings in the universe disappear. Endgame picks up the story from there.
It is five-years later and the few surviving Avengers — Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, War Machine, Hawkeye and Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy characters Rocket and Nebula, and the newly introduced Captain Marvel — are trying to put the pieces back together.
Hope starts with Ant-Man. He pops back into current time from the quantum universe and can’t figure out where everyone has gone. He’d been trapped for a short period of time at that level while years passed everywhere else.
Ant-Man is convinced that the universe can be restored to what it was if the surviving Avengers can use the quantum universe to time travel, gather the infinity stones from where they were before Thanos and then use them to undo what he did.
Or as Marvel puts it on its website. This is the grand conclusion to the 22 films it has done since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began in 2008 with Iron Man.
Avengers: Endgame, like the first film, is directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo and is written by Christoper Markus and Stephen McFeely. Both films have the same producers.
Combined the two movies are 5:30 in total. It is one story and essentially one movie, and the most ambitious super hero movie of all time. You might even argue it’s the most ambitious movie of all time in any genre. Every Marvel comic book and movie character are in the film. No one is is left out. The story is so complex and character laden that I thought at one point they might run out of them and stick a few DC Comics super heroes into the mix in order to finish the story.
The two Russos, the writers and the actors involved — and there are a passel of them — have put together a challenging story that would make Cecil B. DeMille beam. He loved long, detailed, effects-laden movies and no film, and a sequel in my memory have been more complex, or nuanced than this one.
In a way, Avengers: Endgame is a time travel movie. Most time travel flicks make you wish you could go back in time and save the price of a ticket. Endgame has a good time with the premise, adds a few surprises, and cleverly wraps past and present together.
It also has fun making fun of the premise of time travel and how other movies have handled the subject.
Combine Endgame with Avengers: Infinity War and this is an absolutely brilliant ending to those 22 movies. It is also an equally intriguing beginning of the next phase of stories of the characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
A long journey is over. A new one begins.
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Karen Gillian, Brie Larson, Josh Brolin, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Zoe Saldana, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, Elizabeth Olsen, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Mackie, Sam Wilson, Falcon, Tom Hiddleston, Danai Guria, Benedict Wong, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Tilda Swinton, Jon Favereau, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Robert Redford, Cobie Smulders, Vin Diesel, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Letitia Wright
This is the culmination of 22 Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and — in other ways — the beginning of a new universe. Combined with the first film, Avengers: Infinity War, it’s absolutely brilliant. Length — and at 3:01 it’s too long — is all that keeps this from getting my highest rating. Give Endgame a game ending 4 1/2 on my 0 to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.