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‘Avengers: Endgame’ marks a fitting, satisfying close

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Rating: ««« out of ««««
Running Time: 181 minutes

The past 11 years have been filled with Marvel superhero movies...21, in fact. So many features that this critic has definitely been feeling a bit of burn-out at witnessing more comic characters do battle with evil forces, before setting up yet another threat and sequel. Avenger: Endgame is a finale of sorts, tying together all of the events in the previous films into one climactic showdown. While one could nitpick about a few minor elements, this is one of the stronger entries in the franchise. Overall, it wraps up events and characters in an engaging and entertaining manner.

Following the end of Infinity War, which left half of all life in the universe instantaneously gone, the dozen or so surviving Avengers struggled with an uncertain future. With the villainous Thanos (Josh Brolin) nowhere to be found, the dejected group labor to adapt to a sparsely populated and run-down Earth (the world appears very empty, despite the fact that there should still be nearly 3.85 billion people remaining, but we’ll let that slide). After some time, a lost figure from the past reappears and inspires a new train of thought that could alter the outcome of the previous battle. The Avengers decide to team up one last time on what amounts to a suicide mission in order to reverse history.

While it was obviously unfortunate to see so many heroes meet their ends in the previous installment, from a story perspective it was the best thing that could have happened to this sequel. The last film struggled to juggle close to 30 leads, and for this reviewer spread itself too thin. This follow-up has the benefit of having fewer parts, and as such has more time to focus on individuals. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) all get plenty of screen time and are allowed the opportunity to process the loss of friends, and deal with their own concerns about mortality.

The actors handle their angst-ridden parts effectively and with heart, but the highlights in this chapter are Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Ant-man (Paul Rudd), and Rocket (Bradley Cooper). Of course, they also deal with the same issues as the others, but their roles are infused with far more humor and sharp wit. Thor’s scenes stand out in particular. Not only does the character harbor both anger and sadness, but at times it’s also extremely amusing to see him in tears during certain moments and, over the course of the trying period, well, kind of let himself go and suffer from a crisis of confidence.

As for the action, when it does arrive it is quite exciting. There are plenty of great moments as the Avengers create a plan involving a “time heist” and end up traveling through a great many environments that will be familiar to fans of the series. Of course, there is also an elaborate and epic battle at the close, giving all of the characters a moment or two to shine and take down the bad guys. It’s a lot to squeeze in, but the sequence does deliver the expected popcorn thrills.

Admittedly, there are a couple of very minor problems. Even knowing very little about these comic book characters, previous films have really spelled out where the story would be headed. As such, there aren’t many surprises here (except for the fates of one or two characters) and much of the film plays out as expected. The central villain, Thanos also disappears for a lengthy period, and after the climax, there are extended scenes of various characters saying their farewells. Again, they’re all very effectively rendered, but these moments do play out for an additional 15 minutes.

But these are all minor complaints. Overall, the movie certainly delivers the superhero goods. It’s hard to know exactly what the future may bring for the Marvel Universe (... actually, who are we kidding? We already know there are more Spider-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy films on the horizon). Regardless, Avengers: Endgame is one of the more successful latter entries in the franchise. It marks a fitting and satisfying close to what has been promised over the last decade plus and is an impressive accomplishment.

NOTE: Finally, as most people’s lives are very busy, this reviewer will spare you some time you might otherwise spend sitting through the lengthy and extensive credits at the close. Those waiting for more should be warned that there were no post-credit add-ons (at least at the critic screening this reviewer attended).

Visit: www.CinemaStance.com

By Glenn Kay
For the Sun