Warning: Spoilers (and the odd obscure reference) lie within.
So, I’m back from watching the big Hollywood blockbuster of the season, and one I’ve been waiting on for quite some time.
But you probably know me. I hate spoilers, and spoiling things for people.
As such, if you have come here for a more traditional review, you’re out of luck. HERE BE SPOILERS, in other words, but as is traditional, I’ll give you plenty of spoiler space to back out just in case you’ve landed here in error.
Really, there will be spoilers. Continue no further if you haven’t already seen Avengers Endgame.
I mean it this time
Right, from here on, nobody is to blame if you spoil the fillum for yourself.
Avengers Endgame: The good stuff
- The pacing: At 3 hours, this is a long movie, but it uses that time not only for plot development, but also for mood. Mood is critical to this movie, because that early twist sets a much more sombre tone than most folks would have anticipated.
- That early Thanos twist: Hands up if you had “Thanos gets decapitated in the first 15 minutes” in your prediction plot pool. Ooh, you liar…
- The spectacle: I’m pretty choosy about which movies I’ll see in the cinema these days, largely because the cost of taking a family of 5 to the movies isn’t a trivial matter. I want some definite bang for my buck, and Avengers Endgame delivered that in plenty of style.
- The smart use of the post-snap characters: Avengers: Infinity War is a fun romp, but it’s most definitely weighed down by the fact that there are a LOT of moving pieces in play, which means that there’s not so much room for character development, which is largely left behind in the cause of showing Thanos throwing planets at people. Slowing it down and concentrating just on the surviving cast gives them a lot more dramatic room to move. Of course, drama’s a bit cheaper than CGI too.
- Fat Thor: Chris Hemsworth can do comedy with a broad stroke pretty well, but there’s some subtle fun here — and of course the more touching scenes with his mother, which are just plain beautiful to watch.
- Korg-tastic! Speaking of Fat Thor, I can’t be the only one who wants a Korg and Miek movie, can I? Hell, make an entire sitcom based on the adventures of Korg and Miek (with, as my delightful daughter suggests, guest appearances by wacky neighbour Howard The Duck) and the money will come rolling in!
- Well paced callbacks: Yes, it definitely pays to have watched all the Marvel flicks to date, because most of the plot of Avengers Endgame wouldn’t make a lick of sense without it. And while, once they started talking about time travel it became obvious they’d be doing the whole “sneak around in the early films” game, you weren’t thumped over the head with them to speak of.
- Nebula is stellar: Karen Gillan can do no wrong in my book, but then that could just have been my not-so-subtle Doctor Who fan coming out. But no, because she’s genuinely good as Nebula in this movie, both as modern reformed Nebula and as calculating evil Nebula too.
- Obvious can be good: Once Cap was back in Peggy Carter’s office, and once Tony built an infinity gauntlet out of an Iron Man fist, it did become rather obvious where their stories would go; it was just a matter of getting there. This was (mostly) well handled by both Robert Downey Junior and Chris Evans, both of whom had made little secret of their intentions to leave the franchise. Cap dancing with Peggy at the end was just plain lovely.
- Well paced epic battle: Infinity War had that long Wakanda battle scene, but here instead we got a long battle against Thanos, and then a much shorter “big armies” scene. A smart move – by now, nobody really cares or feels that the heroes are going to be in that much danger from everyday mooks, so keeping that short but spectacular is the right play.
- A good end point: Reading around — and this is somewhat anecdotal, to be clear — we seem to be reaching an exhaustion point with superhero movies. I’ve little doubt that Avengers Endgame will make all the money, but it also gives Marvel a very clean slate to pause production and work out stories that make sense from here. I’d rather great Marvel movies than a conveyer belt approach, and this does seem to signal a proper wrap for the latest phase of flicks.
Avengers Endgame: The not-so-good stuff
Look, I enjoyed this movie a lot. But it wasn’t flawless, and it did leave me wanting in a few areas. Some of these seem big to me, and some are super nit picky. Feel free to leave your thoughts below, and such.
- The five year reset problem: OK, so everyone snapped out of existence comes back, and, based on what Peter Parker said, they came back where they were when they were snapped. Let’s ignore the rotation of the planets and all that, and presume they are in the same exact places. Which means the folks on planes are plummeting — their planes either landed or plummeted five years ago — the prisons are overcrowded, there’s more than a few folks mid-surgery in serious trouble because there’s suddenly a second patient on the operating table with them… and so on…
- The other five year reset problem: There was a nice fake out with Cassie Lang early on, who we now find is five years older than she was. Seems a little older than the girl who is in Ant Man & The Wasp, but I’ll let that slide. I have more of an issue with, say, Peter Parker. Was everyone in his school snapped? If so, business as usual, aside from the fact that the school suddenly has an at least 25% growth issue, because anyone else not in that school who had moved up would have a lot more classmates. If not, then many of them will have graduated and be (biologically) five years older, even though those still in high school would have the same birthdate! Also, we’ve seen a lot of evidence that suggests that most of the social structures that were in place had crumbled — not surprising given loss of population, food growing structures, transport etc — so how did those get back up and running so fast?
- The Unbelievable Hulk: I’ve loved Mark Ruffalo’s take on Banner and the Hulk since The Avengers, and he’s in fine form here. I’m equally a big fan of Peter David’s classic run in the comic books where he went down the “intelligent Hulk” route that Avengers Endgame clearly borrows from. No problem there. But for some reason — maybe it was the lighting in the cinema I was in, maybe not — I found it much harder to “believe” that this Hulk was in the same scenes as his co-stars. Maybe it’s the colour, or the expressions, but it felt very… green screen to me, pun not intended. Not quite real. I’m also not sure how huge Hulk hands use obviously tiny scientific device buttons without accidentally mashing the wrong ones from time to time
- Nebula shoots Nebula: A tough scene to film, but for a second or two I genuinely wasn’t sure that good Nebula was the one that shot bad Nebula. That perhaps could have been more cleanly shot.
- Go away, Pepper!: Sorry, Gwyneth. The character’s fine, but in a post-Goop world, I cannot take you seriously onscreen any more at all. That one’s totally just me, though.
- Serious lack of Howard The Duck: C’mon Marvel. Stop teasing me here.
- Where was Goose? Nobody’s allowed to mention the expected lifespan of Flerkens. Lalalalalalala, I can’t hear you!
- Corvus Glaive can’t catch a break: Blink, and you might miss him being rather arbitrarily killed mid-battle. The Children of Thanos (not Nebula/Gamora) get a short shrift in that final battle. They were formidable in Infinity War, but here they’re just more mooks.
- Surviving Thanos’ missile attack: The visual and audio impact of Thanos blowing up the Avengers compound is a great moment… right up until you realise that everybody survives that. Everyone. If absolute explosions ripping apart massive buildings doesn’t stop you, then what will? Again, I think this could have been better framed — I’ve no idea how Scott Lang, who was pretty much hit in the face with a huge missile blast wasn’t reduced to a fine ant-paste, for example. Yes, I know, the heroes have to survive, but it meant that the stakes for the battle to come felt much lower to me.
- The people who bring young children to 3 hour movies: Look, parent as you will. But this is a 3 hour movie, and there were definitely some younger kids in the seats around me who got twitchy no more than 90 minutes in. Thankfully parents did take them for a walk — I’ve been in movies where the parents have ignored their kids, and it’s horrible — but frankly, do your research, folks! Given the darker tone — beheadings, lots of moody slow scenes — this isn’t exactly a run and gun popcorn flick filled with laughs.
- What happened to Loki? OK, I do get that the most likely scenario here is that the Loki that made off with the Tesseract is the one who will appear in the Disney+ series. That’s fine, and I’m looking forward to it. Why did the heroes simply go “Oh well, he’s gone, too bad?” They had ample ways to try to track him down, and no shortage of “time”, beyond the need to find him within a five to seven year (or so) span, rather than jump back to the 1970s, because Tony “thinks” he might know where the Tesseract and Hank Pym were.
- Young Hank Pym: CGI has its limits. I’m sorry, Disney, but 70s era Michael Douglas just looked plastic and creepy. Maybe just shooting him in silhouette as a voiceover or something instead? It’s the same problem I had with Star Wars: Rogue One and the CGI Carrie Fisher at the end of that film.