REVIEW: Imperfect ‘Endgame’ still enthralls

Like a big rack of ribs or a plate piled with Buffalo wings, “Avengers: Endgame” is pretty messy, but still real good and satisfying.

Just to make things a little easier, here’s a roster list of the main characters in the film: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America. Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, AKA Hulk. Chris Hemsworth as Thor Odinson, King of Asgard. Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, AKA Black Widow. Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye. Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, AKA War Machine. Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, AKA Ant-Man. Brie Larson as Carol Danvers, AKA Captain Marvel. Karen Gillan as Nebula. Josh Brolin as the Titan Thanos.

To watch this film, an audience member needs to have seen “Avengers Infinity War,” because it picks up from that movie’s cliffhanger. The remaining Avengers who were defeated by Thanos, but still survived the conflict, are searching for answers at the film’s beginning. Thanos, in his radical move to preserve resources in the universe, used the power of the six cosmic-controlling Infinity Stones to wipe out half of living creatures.

Naturally, being a team of superheroes, the Avengers decide to correct this injustice and bring the fight to Thanos. What follows is a three hour ride involving battles and even some time-related plot threads.

Promotional material and trailers for “Endgame” only reveal a very tiny potion of what takes place in the three hour runtime, and for good reason. There’s a lot to unpack in this movie and a lot of it should remain undisclosed until a viewer sees it. As a result, this review is a bit more tricky to write.

Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America.

Without spoiling anything too much, though, this review can say “Endgame” isn’t as good as “Infinity War.” While both movies are very long and follow several characters and story arcs, “Infinity War” is by far more cohesive and balanced, while “Endgame” feels more convoluted and over-crowded.

Another factor is the inclusion of time-travel in this movie. No more about how it works out in this review because, again, spoilers, but like most movies involving time-travel, things can get confusing and nonsensical. Time-travel is tricky business in any flick, and “Endgame” is no different, with some head-scratchers left for the audience.

While on the topic of negatives, another issue “Avengers” part 4 finds itself in is some of the plot elements doing a disservice to Thanos. A wonderful foil for the heroes in “Infinity War,” Thanos was an amazing, complex villain for the Avengers to battle. Because of how the “Endgame” story develops, though, this isn’t as much the case this time around.

Finally, this fourth installment features a bit too much humor, with not all of it hitting its mark. That’s not to say all of the comedy falls flat, the film actually knocks it out of the park several times. However, there were certainly sequences where it felt unnecessary or gratuitous.

With all of that said, “Endgame” is still a damn good time and features fine sendoffs for several major characters. Like other films in this franchise, which has spanned more than a decade, the greatest strength in this flick are the character interactions, and they are magnificent here.

All of the characters we know so well, especially the original six from the 2012 picture, have been through a lot, and it shows. Each of the characters are trying to deal with what has occurred throughout the last few movies, and seeing them go through it in their own way is compelling. This of course becomes even more engaging when these character arcs cross paths with others.

The remaining Avengers assemble.

In following these characters’ lives through these events, “Endgame” also has some good portrayals of grief, guilt, remorse and regret. Many of the characters we as an audience know so well also have some conclusive story threads here, and they really hit the spot.

In all fairness to the movie’s comedy, there is plenty that does work, too. Overall, mathematically, I’d say the majority of the humor did land. Again, what makes this function are the characters and their banter.

Enormous credit obviously has to go to the performers here, both old and new. Downey Jr. and Evans have exceptional sequences here where they really get to show off some good acting chops. The same can be said for Johansson whose character is carrying a lot on her shoulders. Even performers in minor roles, such as Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, are wonderful.

Ruffalo and Hemsworth also deserve praise, as their characters go in some unique, unexpected paths. Both actors pull this off, and make these changes work for the most part.

A review of a Marvel movie also wouldn’t be complete without talking about the action and entertainment value either, and I’m happy to report that this film delivers in that aspect. While the first two acts feature a couple pretty good moments, the climax is absolutely stunning.

It’s jaw-dropping how good the climactic battle in the final third of this picture is. For most of the movie, the rating for “Endgame” was in the 3 out of 5 range. However, the magnitude and brilliance of the action set piece in the movie’s finale was so impressive that it gave the whole flick a boost.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo did not make a perfect movie with “Avengers: Endgame.” It has its share of issues, and comes out a bit messy looking as a completed product. However, that product is a satisfying picture where a person won’t even mind the three hour length. While it stumbles, “Endgame” can make an audience laugh, shed a tear and overall enjoy the ride. 4.0 out of 5.


Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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