“Endgame:” An epic, ambitious but flawed finale


Ben Wheeler, Columnist

Let’s get this out of the way first: “Avengers: Endgame” is a total blast, with awesome dialogue in both serious and witty situations, mind-blowing action sequences, full of epic moments and lots of heart. All that being said, I think it is a classic case of expectations with regards to the genre and context of the film vs. what generally makes a good film. If you’re going in to experience a superhero, action epic that is loose with the rules (both of cinema and the rules of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)), then you are going to have a heck of an experience that you won’t soon forget. If you’re like me and go into the film with expectations that represent a hybrid of what I previously described along with higher expectations for the raw cinematic elements, don’t fret.  Your experience will still be a blast, but you may have more to complain about.

“Avengers: Endgame” is a culmination of all the prior MCU films and acts as a pseudo-part two to the story that kicked off in “Avengers: Infinity War” (2018), which of course concluded with our heroes ultimately losing a variety of valiant battles against Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his army. Thanos achieved his goal of acquiring all the infinity stones, snapped his infinity gauntlet-covered fingers and half the universe’s population of living creatures was erased out of existence.  “Avengers: Endgame” initially picks up only a short while after the “snap,” as our remaining heroes attempt to deal with their tremendous loss. It isn’t long before they formulate a plan to not only reverse the genocide of Thanos, but to eliminate him as a threat as well. However, they soon learn that to accomplish this goal will require sacrifices they haven’t prepared for or even considered. That’s all I can say without going into serious spoiler territory.

As a superhero film, “Avengers: Endgame” is unmatched in its scale, scope and pace. Where this film takes you and the rate it does so feels like being a passenger in a high-speed vehicle with the pedal floored. We see only what we absolutely have to see for the actions to make sense, then it is on to the next scene or set-piece. We rock our way through these scenes with a mix of classic MCU themes and new tunes, which are synced up perfectly to the explosive, incredibly detailed and amazingly choreographed action scenes.  All of our heroes showcase their classic skill and demeanor, as well as those elements with some new twists. The tone here is also a huge win, though there are low-key moments and a good number of jokes, but the film never fails to remind us what the stakes really are here and how fragile this reality really is. “Avengers: Endgame” rewrites some of the established rule book within its own universe, but does it in such crazy and unexpected ways that it’s easy to ignore things that seem to violate previously established impossibilities, as well as prior character prerogatives and motivations.

As a typical film goer and choosing to ignore the pure spectacle, I am bit more conflicted. Yes, the pace is unmatched and overall a lot of fun, but there are stretches where it is really hard to follow. If you want to use the bathroom or in some cases blink, you can forget it. Too much happens too fast and it is really easy to get lost in what is happening if your attention lapses for a second, which is problematic if you’re somebody who isn’t as knowledgeable in the realm of the MCU and can’t discern the on-screen action as quickly.  Also, with this breakneck pace, it is difficult to truly identify the three parts of your typical three act structure within the film. It is hard to tell what has been done and what still needs to be done before the next section of the story can take place or before we arrive at the climax. Also, rewriting the rulebook in a unique way is no doubt creative, however, doing so in such a quick fashion can be interpreted as pointlessly undoing previous films’ work to fit your own narrative. In other words, it feels cheap to an extent. Great films are consistent in what the rules are within the world where the film takes place. This film, however, is far from consistent in that regard.

Overall, I recommend watching this film in theaters at least once, so you can get the maximum experience. I plan on forking over the cash so I can see it on the big screen multiple times, because the fun and exhilarating elements are so constant and enthralling. However, I wonder if it holds up as well as it would months from now when the movie gets its Blu-ray/DVD and digital video release and we all have more time to nitpick the content. Rotten Tomatoes’ critics score comes in at 96 percent, while the audience score is currently 93 percent, according to the Rotten Tomatoes official website.