Friday, 31 May 2019

Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame

Movie Review: Avengers Endgame

He’s baa-aaaaack…

Avengers: Endgame (2019) ★★★½

Directed by the Russo Bros.

Endgame is good! I don’t think it works quite as successfully as Infinity War did, and there are a couple of very poorly-done things, but for the most part it’s exciting, frikkin’ hilarious, and satisfying. Spoilers ahoy!

First the good: This movie is sooooo fuuunnnny. Practically every frame with Ant-Man Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is an LOL moment. Chris Hemsworth is an unbelievably gifted comedy actor. Even Cap’m America (Chris Evans) gets at least one fantastic laugh (“Yeah, I know…”).

The central tenant of the film (and the entire 2nd act) consists of going back in time to collect the infinity stones to bring them back to the present and snap-back everyone whom Thanos snapped away at the end of Infinity War. Very notable is the fact that that the Avengers are not trying to undo the original snap and the five ensuing years. There is much discussion about time travel and the idea that Back to the Future is bullshit. The time travel rules created in this movie are thankfully internally consistent and everything makes sense, to whit: when you go back in time, you cannot change your past and therefore your present; instead you create an alternate timeline that plays out differently from that point on.

For example: Iron Man and Ant-Man accidentally create a scenario where Loki gets away at the end of the first Avengers movie, so there’s a whole timeline where he’s out there roaming freely since 2012 (this is presumably what his Disney streaming series will be about(??) since his death in Infinity War wasn’t undone). Similarly, Nebula shoots and kills her own past self during the third act, but she doesn’t vanish because 2023 Nebula has a different timeline than that version of 2014 Nebula. Iron Man invents a kind of time/space anchor (he refers to it as a GPS system, which is funny) that allows the characters to return to the mainstream 2023 when they return from the past rather than the alternate futures their time-travel shenanigans caused. It all makes sense! I’m so very happy, because so often time travel stories are incredibly lazy and inconsistent.

The least successful part of the movie is the Vormir segment. It doesn’t work because we, the viewer, already know what happens on Vormir from watching the previous movie. So when two characters go to Vormir in this movie, we know from the rules of the previous movie what is going to happen to one of them. And then the expected happens. *Cough*

Look, I know that when the audience has knowledge that the characters don’t, it can be a way of creating suspense (see Hitchcock). But once the suspense is broken (i.e., once the characters have the same knowledge as the audience), there needs to be some sort of surprise or change. Here’s what I mean: If the viewers know that there’s a bomb underneath the conference table during a mafia meeting but none of the mafioso know, that’s suspenseful. But what if the mafia discovered the bomb, but then it exploded and killed them anyway? Then it’s pointless suspense just for the sake of suspense. It feels like, well, why did we sit through all of that if we didn’t get any new developments? That’s what Vormir was like for me: unsatisfying. You have two founding members of the Avengers, and they just follow the path presented before them like Thanos did in Infinity War instead of finding the third way through.

But there were other moments of Suspense that led to changes and surprises, such as the replacement of Nebula (we know it happened but the characters don’t) that led to an entirely different direction for the whole third act of the movie. That was great! Filmmakers take note: More Nebula, less Vormir!

It’s hard to be too disappointed in a movie like this. I always say that my favorite movies give me experiences that I could never have in my regular life (which is why I’m so drawn to Sci-Fi movies), and boy does Endgame deliver in that regard. It’s the literal definition of “spectacular.” I will own it and enjoy it many, many times.

I do have a question, though: what does the Soul Stone actually do? It’s pretty clear what the other stones do (though the Reality Stone’s powers were changed between The Dark World and Infinity War), but what ability does the wielder of the Soul Stone actually acquire? The Soul Stone is just a MacGuffin in these movies, and that’s kind of a shame.

Categories: Movie Reviews, Movies, Reviews.

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