Before I proceed any further, this is a spoiler-free review. That means I won’t be discussing any specific plot points related to Avengers: Endgame.
“We’re in the endgame now”. And so said Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange during one of the pivotal moments in last year’s Avengers: Infinity War after discovering one way to win over Thanos (Josh Brolin) out of 14,000,605 different possibilities.
Exactly one year since then, the word “endgame” has become the title for the fourth Avengers movie, where the Russo brothers (Anthony and Joe) finally culminated all previous 21 MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films into one epic conclusion stretching at 182 minutes (that would be 3 hours and 2 minutes), making it as both the longest MCU and superhero movie ever released so far.
Here’s a brief synopsis on what you need to know about Avengers: Endgame: Following Thanos’ infamous snap (or “The Decimation”, as it was officially known) that wiped out half the life in the universe towards the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the remaining Avengers as well as other allies have since trying to pick up the pieces and subsequently devising an elaborate plan to undo the Mad Titan’s actions.
Excluding the traditionally lengthy Bollywood movies, the last time I have to sit through a 3-hour Hollywood blockbuster in the (freezing-cold) cinema hall was Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and King Kong back in 2003 and 2005 respectively. Personally, I always have a mixed feeling whenever I encounter a movie with such a length. A 3-hour movie can be a butt-numbing experience, particularly if it drags till the point it doesn’t actually justify the length in the first place (I’m looking at you, King Kong).
But I’m glad to say that Avengers: Endgame doesn’t feel like a slog trying to reach the finish line. Sure, it does tend to slack every now and then, especially during the first hour but it rarely bores (though it might be if you happen to be one of those audiences with short attention spans). Which brings me to the main point that it’s best not to set the same expectation as you did in Avengers: Infinity War, where the previous movie was more streamlined and action-packed.
By contrast, returning directing duo Anthony and Joe Russo opted for a more sombre drama that deals with grief, guilt, loss and sense of hopelessness. Compared to the one they did the last time around, the Russo brothers performed a better job here in terms of eliciting overall emotional moments in this movie. This is particularly evident the way Russo brothers along with their regular screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely manage to cover most of the characters’ respective emotional arcs and journeys of both past and present that subsequently wrap up in a satisfying conclusion and payoff. I have to say it’s not an easy task to culminate and summarise some of the vital moments that happened over the course of 21 previous MCU movies.
Avengers: Endgame may have been considerably less action this time around but seriously, just how many effects-laden action sequences can one top or outdo last year’s Avengers: Infinity War? Still, that doesn’t mean less action equals bad news for casual fans or moviegoers. In fact, the Russo brothers are smart enough to save the best for the last with an elaborate — and yes, geek-worthy — action set-piece during the epic finale.
While Avengers: Endgame has plenty of worthwhile moments, the movie does suffer some of the same flaws previously seen in Avengers: Infinity War. This includes the recurring uses of one-liners and jokes that tend to feel awkwardly misplaced or should have been omitted altogether. The whole extended “time heist” (time travel and heist) sequence may have its few shares of amusing moments but could have benefitted more with a serious tone rather than relying heavily on the jokey narrative approach. The time-travel element even gets a little too convoluted for its own good but discussing this any further would open up the spoiler territory.
Although the likes of major roles particularly played by Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans stand out the most with their respectively engaging performances as Iron Man and Captain America, some of the characters are either sadly reduced to wordless cameos while some others are depicted more like an afterthought.
Finally, here’s a friendly reminder: Avengers: Endgame marks a rare moment for an MCU movie that there is no mid-credit or post-credit teaser whatsoever. That means feel free to head over to the washroom after surviving a 3-hour movie in the cinema once the end credits start rolling.