LICH rating: (4 / 5)
As the 21-movie lineaged Avengers: Endgame wound up in my cinema hall, there was an overwhelmed hush. For, a little over a decade-long concert pitch wait for the next-in-line piece winds up here. But it’s not just bidding farewell to this intricately divaricated and yet looped-back to the Marvel backbone franchise that’s causing the solemn quietude, nor is it because cinema halls are helpfully displaying slides that inform you there’s no end-credits scenes here, thank you.
Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely with directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo add layers of cathartic emotions and heft thatmake Endgame not just a dazzling spectacle but also a wrenching experience. And while the heart-thumping race to finish off Thanos (Josh Brolin, superb as always, his menacing avatar unable to contain his tinge of hopeless melding to destiny) is absolute fun, tossed with suspense, action, and banter with a dash of inexplicable physics—almost as if Christopher Nolan walked in with a couple of pages—it is the humane layer that the movie explores is what makes the cloud of swallow-the-lump follow you outside the hall.
When a movie begins its opening credits not with its rousing theme (that flies only an hour into the movie), but with the heart-rending Dear Mr. Fantasy by Traffic, you know this long-haul enterprise isn’t just whizz-bang pyrotechnics. Taking off three weeks post the apocalypse that Thanos has wreaked on Earth, this enterprise takes its time (cinematically and timeline-wise) in assembling the ravaged emotions and lives of Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)—seemingly the only one who’s sorted his life out— Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) Nebula (Karen Gillan), War Machine/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), whose persistence and reinforcement spins the story into its endgame. While Thor’s state may hop off some barley-induced laughter, it’s an insightful look at how some people deal with depression and low self-worth. Others, like Rogers go about counseling people on how to deal with the aftermath of loss and upending grief, while Natasha clings on to the only thing she has—any semblance to the Avengers’ work. And the opening look at Thanos is mind-numbing, as you realize that absolute power must pay an absolute price, even if it’s a knowing one.
Of the superb cast, Robert Downey Jr. is a stand-out—his decimated, haggard opening body language that segues to making the toughest choices his character has to make—is all contained superbly in a shell of smart-ass intensity. Chris Evans is equally good, lithely taking on the pain and uniting-the-gang responsibility his character must face and execute. Paul Rudd, Chris Hemsworth, and Mark Ruffalo, are all terrific. And the Russo brothers play their fan-service card very well, getting in other heroes in a scene that’s designed for woots and whistles.
However, there’s a primary subterranean emotional thrust that’s at play in Endgame which aims at the resolution of all that was tangled and between Rogers and Stark. Which is why, they’re at the pointed end of all that happens here. Which is also why, disappointingly—and despite her edge-of-the-seat lead-in from Avengers: Infinity War and Captain Marvel—Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and her superhero alter ego has a crunched role to play.
But Endgame still has a lot of gasp-inducing and seat-clutching moments, an all-out spectacular fight, and a satisfying and tearing up conclusion that has more heart than brawn. It’s also a mirror to what grief and loss of dear ones does to us. “Move on”, says Steve Rogers in a counselling session. That’s easier said than done in real life and he knows it all too well himself. In the Marvel—and cinematic—universe, it’s mission impossible. How do you cope with not seeing all these characters—and the actors that play them—ever together again? He wouldn’t approve, but the answer’s in revisiting the 22-movie saga than face the present or think of a future without them.
LICH ratings chart
(1 / 5): Don’t bother
(2 / 5): Not too great
(3 / 5): Worth a watch
(4 / 5): Very good
(5 / 5): Drop everything else NOW
Avengers: End Game is rated U/A (Parental Guidance for children below the age of 12 years) There’s intense fight scenes, some swearing, and references that’s the butt of jokes…or is it the other way around?
Avengers: End Game
Directors Anthony Russo, Joe Russo Running Time 3h 1min
Writers Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Karen Gillan, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Holland, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Saldana, Tessa Thompson, Elizabeth Olson, Tilda Swinton
Genres Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi