Saturday 27 April 2019

Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame

Don't worry, this review will be spoiler-free. As was the script for much of the cast of this climactic film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's been widely reported they were given dummy and blacked out scripts. It means Endgame has been somewhat pieced together, disparate individual scenes that eventually come together to complete the puzzle.

Of course, that could be said of every film. But it makes you question how the actors can develop their characters when they don't know what the...endgame is (sorry). Then again, the Marvel films are rarely about anything more than heroic characters saving the world. And on that, Endgame surely delivers.

In fact, this is the most meta of all the Marvel films. The whole franchise has been a collection of puzzle pieces. Now Endgame provides that in microcosm. It is at once nostalgic yet new, a look back at the past 21 films and a forward-looking conclusion. The plot is essentially an opportunity to revisit the best bits of the previous films, allowing each character to have their moment in the spotlight. It's full of references and fan service that will surely reward repeat viewing, though the story is simple enough to entertain as a piece of popcorn cinema.

With so much to wrap up, it's no wonder the film is three hours long. But that whips by and doesn't feel bloated. While it starts off slowly and takes itself a little too seriously (though that's perhaps to be expected given events in Infinity War), the pace soon picks up. There's a clear structure and a clear goal, with little need for exposition or introductions of fantastical alien races or magic MacGuffins. We've had 21 films of that - now we finally get the pay-off and it undoubtedly satisfies, while leaving just enough tidbits for future films.

That clarity is true of the action sequences too. The visual design, CGI and choreography is everything we've come to expect from the best of Marvel - intense, exciting and easy to follow. And for all its melodrama and operatic scope, there's still time for moments of comedy (even if some are unintentional thanks to the cheesy script), as well as more tender, intimate moments.

How much you care for the latter is almost entirely based on your enjoyment of the previous films. Individually, they may not be the most original or well done. Many of them are flawed. Yet the cleverness of these interlocking narratives is extraordinary, resulting in an overarching saga with a fitting conclusion. Really, these films should be judged together as one incredible achievement. The whole is greater than the individual parts - rather like the Avengers themselves.


Watch: Avengers: Endgame is out now.