Sunday, 5 May 2019

REVIEW: Avengers - Endgame

And so, I finally begin to catch up with not only my viewing, but also my reviewing, of the many sf and superhero extravaganzas (extravaganzae?) to hit the screens.

Endgame is less a movie, more a cultural event; the culmination of eleven years of cinematic material designed to draw a line under the first iteration of perhaps the most successful film franchise in history. It's the sort of film that can't be appreciated alone; much of the experience comes from seeing and discussing it with like-minded friends. As such, this review is going to be slightly different, as my lovely partner-in-crime Suzanne and I chat about the film (in reality, we've been chatting about it for days with various other people as well, but this sums it up nicely).

And obviously, if you still haven't seen it, there are SPOILERS after this break.

Dan: To sum up, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think it held together as well as Infinity War, but part twos so rarely do. Given that this is basically the season finale to a seriously long superhero series, it was kind of inevitable that some bits would be let downs, but really, this worked amazingly well. When you consider how much it had to cover, and how many characters' stories needed to be rounded off, they did a great job. I'm surprised how slow and melancholy it was for the first act. There was no quick fix.

Suz: I liked it a lot. It's the little moments that stick - the women facing down the aliens together on the battlefield, and all the references to time travel films and series like Back to the Future and Quantum Leap.

Dan: But no Doctor Who! Even though I think the "time heist" was a reference to, well, "Time Heist." Maybe Karen Gillan vetoed it. The time travel element worked really well. It was pretty much a given that they'd use time travel somehow, but I loved that there was no possibility of a reset. We've seen too much of that in time travel stories. I'm glad that all of Infinity War still happened. It's also a much more feasible idea of time travel, that you can't change history, only become part of it, or alternatively that it breaks off into a new timeline. Although they did seem to break their own rules with Cap at the end.

Suz: But that was the perfect ending for him. Nothing else would have done him justice. And maybe he's been lying low for the last fifty years while the other version of him is frozen. Peggy must have known all along and just kept quiet when she met younger Steve after he was thawed out.

Dan: Or he was living in a parallel timeline and got back to the main one somehow. To be honest, since it was pretty well known that neither Chris Evans or Robert Downey Jr. would be coming back after this one, I assumed they'd both die, but I preferred this ending for Cap. And I'm so pleased that Sam got to be the new Captain America, not Bucky. They've both had the role in the comics, but I just prefer Sam.

Suz: Yeah, Bucky's kind of boring as a good guy. I loved the trips back into the old films. We should watch all of them again in order.

Dan: Chronological or release order? The "best of" showreel was a bit self-indulgent but, to be honest, they deserve to be self-indulgent. And it really shows just how much time has passed for the whole franchise.

Suz: Thor meeting his mum was another favourite part. Rene Russo even referenced Prince of Thieves. (Note: both Suz and I were convinced Rene Russo was in Prince of Thieves. She wasn't, but we still think Frigga referenced "I may not have eyes but some things I can still see.")

Dan: I liked that part too. Tony got basically the same moment with his dad, although his was a reconciliation rather than a straightforward last chance to be with his parent before they died. And it was Tony who imparted wisdom to his dad, while Frigga helped Thor with his demons. One thing I truly loved about the film was how it explored depression and the emotional fallout of failure and loss.

Suz: Especially with Thor. Drinking and putting on weight and never leaving the house is a totally believable reaction to what happened.

Dan: Yeah, because it was his tactical error that let Thanos win. Although, Quill fucked up even more than that - if it wasn't for him, Thanos never would have even gotten to Earth. But he got poofed, so we never got to see how he'd deal with that guilt, which was a missed opportunity. Still, Thor's story was great. Plus, big, fat hairy Thor is much more in line with how he's portrayed in mythology. And now his hammer braids his beard for him, which is a nice upgrade.

Suz: Tony's story worked really well.

Dan: Basically still dealing with the PTSD from the first alien invasion, but then moving on and starting his own family. He's the only one of the Avengers who does move on, but then he ends up making the sacrifice anyway.

Suz: And his last line was "I am Iron Man!" Which it had to be. I loved that bit.

Dan: I didn't really buy Hawkeye's descent to the dark side. I know there's a precedent in the comics, but it still didn't seem realistic. Maybe he was just pissed off at not being in the last film. I was surprised it was Natasha who died, instead of him, especially considering she's got a film coming up.

Suz: Hawkeye was always the slightly crap one, anyway. They could find a way to bring Natasha back if they wanted. She only really had the Avengers, and her story's been about redemption since she first appeared. Of course, the real hero is the rat.

Dan: Yep, without the rat switching on the quantum drive thingie in the back of Ant-Man's van, everyone would still be doomed.

Suz: I like to think that the rat being there was the specific future that Doctor Strange foresaw. There should be a How It Should Have Ended where Strange puts the rat exactly where he needs to be.

Dan: I wish there'd been some more exploration of how the rest of the world was dealing with half the population suddenly dying. All we saw was one "Survivors Anonymous" group with Cap, and that scowling kid. Otherwise you'd think only superheroes were affected.

Suz: Come on, the film was three-and-a-half hours long already!

Dan: True. Maybe some of the TV series will explore. I liked how they used it to focus on the core characters rather than the new generation who are coming in. Most of the characters who were brought back barely got a cameo.

Suz: Except Spider-Man, because of his relationship with Tony.

Dan: And he's also just more important than the rest. He's the flagship character taking them into the next phase of films. He gets lines. Plus, now we know how Loki can get his own series. And he'll be proper evil Loki, who's just let an alien invasion of Earth, not path-to-redemption Loki.

Suz: But with time travel, they could meet. Like the two Captain Americas! That was another good moment. I love that older Cap swears while his younger self is still really uptight.

Dan: It's a shame that Tony couldn't get some proper interaction with his younger self, although he'd have to go back to before Iron Man for it to really have an impact.

Suz: At least he got to meet his dad.

Dan: I think Karen Gillan was probably the stand-out actor as Nebula. She managed to give a seriously intense performance as both versions, yet made them subtly different. Very impressive. Brolin didn't get to do so much with Thanos, though, and I didn't much like the version of him that arrived for the big battle. The content version at the beginning of the film, who didn't even mind dying because he'd, in his mind, made the universe a better place, was much more interesting than the one who decided he was just going to destroy the universe.

Suz: The battle was impressive, and didn't go on too long. They managed to keep it interesting throughout. I loved Captain Marvel showing up at the decisive moment, but she didn't just swoop in and save the day, which would have betrayed the other characters.

Dan: I was disappointed how little she was in the film, after all her build-up, but then, she has the Superman problem: she's so powerful that she could just shut off any threat that the other heroes were struggling with.

Suz: And it made sense that she was out there, helping other planets in the universe. The female characters were really given a chance to stand out. Valkyrie got to be the new queen of Asgard. Natasha and Nebula were vital. Rene Russo was amazing, of course, and Tilda Swinton was classy as the Ancient One. I like that she knew what was coming and helped put the pieces into place for the future timeline. Maybe she sent the rat.

Dan: I've still got a lot of questions though. I loved the Credible Hulk, but I'd have liked to see something of how Bruce and the Hulk came to become one entity, especially after the Hulk seemed to be developing his own distinct personality in the last couple of films. A lot of people have just been zapped back into existence again, and that creates a lot of logistical problems (Stuart Ian Burns asks some sensible questions on his blog.) Why are all Peter's friends from school back in the new Spider-Man trailer? Did they all happen to get poofed? What are the odds of that? And are we seeing the beginnings of a multiverse now? Is that how they're going to introduce the X-Men and Fantastic Four now they have the rights?

Suz: That's probably enough now.

No comments:

Post a Comment