New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Avengers: Endgame

Millions of us have invested countless hours and billions of dollars in these MCU movies so the outcome holds cosmic consequence.The payoff here is considerable and a worthy conclusion to this enormous part of the franchise. Wondering If and how the team can get back together has made anticipation for Avengers: Endgame all the more intense. It’s the touchstone for this franchise, especially after Thanos killed off half the universe’s living creatures and Avengers in The Infinity Wars.

This supposed final edition of the Avengers saga is first and foremost an emotional journey of loss and grief. There are considerable tears shed by the characters on-screen and will be shed by audience members. Yes, we can guess that death is not all that permanent for comic book super heroes as evidenced both in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as in the DC world.

But writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely break that mold and really do send a major character into the hereafter. This experience rises above the the usual storyline, “heroes put aside their differences to solve the impossible and defeat the unbeatable villain.”

The pacing is surprisingly crisp for a movie of this length. Markus and McFeely said they needed this length to do justice to all the characters and plot lines that demanded a respectful conclusion. Anthony & Joe Russo’s direction is uneven when it comes to the über-action sequences. Jarring, hand-held tight shots of the battles don’t match well with the sweeping high angle pans of the battlefield. The music by Alan Silvestri is as you would expect. It adequately follows the emotion on the screen serving more as an auditory subtitle rather than as thrilling accompaniment that adds excitement to the action.

The directors also haven’t forgotten what’s made the MCU more entertaining than the vast majority of comic book movie competition. There are more laughs in this 3 hour-and-1-minute epic than you expect from a film with such heavy themes. Mark Ruffalo as Hulk is given a couple of hugely, funny scenes. Watch him embrace his inner Hulk and become a large, green version of his Bruce Banner self, right down to his horn-rimmed glasses. Now, as an everyday accessible hero he happily takes selfies with his fans in the mall. His throw away lines to the kids while dissing the ignored Ant Man/Paul Rudd are a hoot.

If you’ve never seen or have forgotten Infinity Wars, it’s important to get a little up-to-speed for Endgame. This movie starts shortly after Thanos acquired all six Infinity Stones and rules the universe. Iron Man/Robert Downey Jr. is lost in space and running out of oxygen. What’s left of the Avengers are back on Earth, including Chris Evans/Captain America, Ruffalo/Hulk, Chris Hemsworth/Thor, Scarlett Johansson/Black Widow, Jeremy Renner/Hawkeye, Paul Rudd/Ant-Man, Don Cheadle/War Machine, Bradley Cooper/Rocket and a few others.

Most of the action in this film takes place five years later when they get back together and things really start moving, as in Time Travel. The calendar flips all the way back to 1970 with a lot of stops in between. This gives the writers ample opportunity to re-introduce us to a huge number of characters from previous Avengers installments. Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch and Tilda Swinton’s The Ancient One, are just a smattering of the characters that get some fleeting moments on camera. They all come back, like true Avenging Angels to save the planet for one last time. And as a sign of our times, an all-female crew of super-heroines with Captain Marvel/Brie Larson leading the way, shows how it’s done when the forces of good step up to finish the fight in one climactic moment.

What we do find inventive is how the remaining Avengers evolve in the five years since Thanos decimated Earth. Some have found ways to move on and find a degree of happiness, while others completely fall apart. Like much of this movie, there is both despair and humor in how these heroes grow or crumble. Chris Evans/Captain America always stands out as the most honorable of the team. 

If you’re waiting for Samuel L. Jackson/Nick Fury to give a clue as to what’s next for these characters or who will take up the mantle of the MCU, you don’t and won’t get it. You can watch the massive list of credits and think about what you just saw but without anticipation. There are no post clips. It’s Endgame.

Marvel Studios              3 Hours 1 Minute           PG-13

from Movies and Shakers

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