It’s fair to say this film had a lot riding on its shoulders. Not only a sequel to a universally beloved epic, but the finale of an eleven year cinematic journey that has taken us all across the universe.
Boasting an eye-wateringly huge cast and promising to be a once-in-a-lifetime film, that is sure to be phenomenon, but following from Infinity War is no small task in itself, let alone its standing as the finale of this long journey, a lot of expectations lay on the shoulders on the Russo Brothers and their bumper cast and crew, this had to blow everyone away to justify the hype, so lets find out if it did.
After the events of Infinity War, half of all humanity has been wiped out. The remaining Avengers, struggling to come to terms with their failure, try to concoct a plan to reverse that damage, but is the sacrifice worth it?
The Russo Brothers must possess nerves of steel, as once again, they do not meet expectations, the surpass them. The sheer weight of the task in hand doesn’t seem to bother them, instead it motivates them to push them further into paying off the greatest cinematic journey in the absolute best way possible. They might not have started this journey, but they damn well finished it with style.
It’s not only a film that surpasses anything anyone imagined, but it’s also an incredibly surprising film. Most fans have spent the past year formulating theories as to what happens next, and while I am most definitely not going to disclose what does happen in the end, there are a few very surprising story beats in the set up of the epic story.
At the heart of the film is a beating emotional heart, rarely seen in big superhero franchises such as this. Dealing with such complex issues as grief, loss, and love, it delves much deeper than just epic action and over-the-top characters. Quite the opposite, the characters are the most human they’ve ever been, they haven’t experienced failure on this level before, not only are they grieving for what they’ve lost, but they’re blaming themselves for failing to stop Thanos, and that’s a very complex thing, and it brings out the most human side of these characters, characters we’ve seen battle epic threats and succeed time and time again, but we’ve never seen them fail, at least not like this.
I had taken the option of watching the double bill of Infinity War and Endgame, and while I have seen Infinity War multiple times before, seeing them in close proximity really helps with recognising the story beats that both films share, in some ways they are two parts of one story, but in many ways they are two completely different films, operating on two completely different levels.
One aspect that worked in Infinity War that is managed once again here is the great balance of screen time between its many different locations and characters. Infinity War spanned the universe and so does this, as well as so much more, and yet, it never feels over-stuffed or over-stretched. The three-hour run-time is entirely justified here, as such a deep and complex story needs time to breathe and develop in its own time, it is a three-hour film that never seems to drag, its pace keeps up at such a rate that it doesn’t feel as long as it is.
The film also boasts one of the greatest third acts in comic-book movie history, perhaps in film history full stop. Several satisfying moments that pay-off a moment set up many years ago. The moment that sticks in the mind from Infinity War that was a significant upturn moment in the film, is Thor’s arrival on Wakanda. This film has several moments that give that feeling of euphoria that that moment did, and then some, things we’ve been waiting years for, unfold in front of our eyes, in the most crowd-pleasing way possible.
By this time analysing these characters should seem such a lost cause, considering how long we have been acquainted with them, but in some cases, it is almost like they are new characters, their evolution is believable, their motives clear-cut. After such a catastrophic event, we couldn’t expect these characters to remain in the same state of mind as they were a year ago, many of them are broken people, some have hope, and some think all is lost, each with their own reasons for whatever they do, some arcs are deeply emotional and are often difficult to watch, talking about these is very difficult without spoiling the plot, but suffice to say these are not the same Avengers we’ve come to know and love.
However, as much as talking about the characters would give too much away about the plot movements, I can say without hesitation that the performances are universally excellent. Everyone brings their absolute ‘A’ game, especially the old favourites such as RDJ, Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner, but to point out specific performances would be immensely unfair, as everyone concerned were excellent, it is worth pointing out the stand-outs however, and as well as the above three, Josh Brolin is also outstanding as the mad Titan, Thanos, I would say showing us more of Thanos’ vulnerability this time around, which, given his character is no mean feat.
The direction is also very accomplished, given the busy nature of the script, it would have been very easy for the action to lost its focus, but the incredible action scenes are always focused in such away that one can easily follow the action. Away from the action, the film really excels in its quieter moments, its action scenes shine all the brighter when they are book-ended by character development, and quieter moments of contemplation.
There is not much criticism I can levy at Endgame, by the end of the film I was left incredibly satisfied with everything that had happened, emotionally drained, but satisfied. I would say, however, that the usual criticism of contrived humour that has been aimed at the MCU is present here, although it never got too intrusive, it did seem incongruous with the tone at times, but as I say, it never draws you away from the film as much as others I could mention.
All in all then, Avengers: Endgame is a masterpiece of comic-book storytelling, and a masterpiece of a film in all. Before Infinity War, we all had high hopes, and that surpassed them, and the same happened before this, and they’ve done it again, our expectations have been surpassed completely and utterly, this is the perfect end to a saga that began eleven films ago, and will be cherished for many years to come. To repeat my point from the start of this paragraph; Avengers: Endgame is a stone-cold masterpiece.