Even the harshest critics of Infinity War can agree that the movie was laser focused with very little fat and a great sense of purpose as it ran through scenes, battles and story to arrive at the ending which Endgame now picks up with.
Endgame itself, on the other hand, seems to go in the opposite direction, which is strange given that the two have very similar run times.
It would be easy to call Endgame bloated or indulgent as it plays directly into fan service and long-winded explanations and scenes that many are able to infer, but would maybe like to see play out in this last big hurrah for this incarnation of the MCU and its 11 year run.
It’s best to look at Endgame as a marathon – an epic tale spanning time and space like only a comic book movie can, with the reward of the finish line being the payoff of all these years of movies.
Now story is the obvious place to start with that weird descriptor we just gave but we’re in dangerous territory here. We really can’t spoil anything that hasn’t been shown in trailers but the story beats and flow are the main contributor to this movie’s drawn out pace.
Let’s start with what everyone knows: Endgame picks up after the events of Infinity War as the remaining 50% of the universe – Earth and the Avengers included – try to come to terms with the snap (officially called “Decimation”) before deciding to do something about it.
From here the story takes many weird turns that fully lean into the absolutely wild and often unbelievable happenings of comic books themselves. And therein may be a big contributing factor to this movie’s problems: previous entries, even when set in space with alien trees and talking raccoons – still somehow managed to feel grounded to a certain extent.
Endgame, on the other hand, has reached the logical, bombastic conclusion of all of this.
If that all sounds very vague it is, but just know that we’re writing this review with one hand behind our backs to spare the spoiler-y details.
All of that isn’t to say that the story isn’t fun, far from it. It’s very clear that everyone involved in this production wants to please those decade-older butts in the seats, and it does a great job of that.
The problem is that, in trying to be pleasing, it can come across as overdrawn and predictable.
Well talking about consistency and logic in this kind of movie is definitely missing the point, you will at many times throughout wonder why or how something happens, as the story cheats both its own logic and, well, logic in general. If that type of thing annoys you, you will find a lot to get annoyed by.
Thankfully the solid acting here really balances out the ridiculous roller coaster that the story takes you on.
We won’t stop on any one performer as the cast list of Endgame is closer to a phone book, but the big names you’d expect to get a lot of scenes do get a lot of scenes. Hell, telling you which actor / actress gets to shine would spoil the movie, as you can then infer what part they get to play here.
We’ll say this: the talent on show here feels like they put their all into this and really swung for the fences in every scene. Is that always appropriate, and can it come across as not fitting for specific parts of the story? Yes, but it’s much better than anyone phoning it in.
As expected much of the cast here is plastered in CGI and spandex which, thankfully, doesn’t do much to hamper their emoting. This is thanks in part to the phenomenal graphic work done here. The “rubberiness” that you saw on Thor in Infinity War and Captain Marvel near the end of her solo outing are nowhere to be seen here. Remember Bruce Banner’s weird floating head in the Hulkbuster? That lack of polish is not to be seen here.
If you came for spectacle this movie really delivers and may be the king in the MCU when it comes to the sheer absurdity of what’s on-screen. Yes, there are a lot of explosions and impossibly big things hitting into even impossibly-er bigger things, but it’s damn fun and it’s executed well.
As is a theme (heh) with Marvel music, there is absolutely nothing special here. On top of the sparse original score there are a few classic songs thrown in (mostly for scenes relating to the Guardians of the Galaxy) and the main Avengers theme is played many, many times with different remixes and versions, maybe too much for one movie.
When Endgame finishes you will feel spent. Runtime aside it’s a lot to take in, in every respect. To once more return to Infinity War, it felt like you could press reply at the end of that one and sit through another showing. Endgame, even on repeat viewings, will need a bit of respite before plunging back in.
And that isn’t even because of the years buildup and the dozens of movies: Endgame itself is an epic that is filled to the absolute brim, and is maybe bulging at the seems.
If you care about meta stuff, yes, there’s lots of exciting possibilities for the future of this franchise together with a lot of sad endings.
Endgame isn’t a perfect movie, and it isn’t a perfect conclusion to the MCU. What it is, is exciting from start to finish that unfortunately languishes in the middle and stumbles a bit at the finish line.
It’s still satisfying and moments you’ve been dreaming up since Nick Fury met Tony Stark are in here.