Kurt Loder Movie Reviews

Movie Review: Avengers: Endgame

Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth assemble a decade’s worth of superheroes for a long, fond…farewell?

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Rounding the bend into hour three of Avengers: Endgame, I heard a snurfling sound to my right. A discreet peek revealed that the guy next to me was semi-weeping, blotting away the odd tear with his shirt sleeve. Jeez, I thought. And then I realized…

Never mind. This is a superhero movie that delivers all the requisite action (and, unlike last year's Avengers: Infinity War, doesn't over-deliver it), but mainly takes aim at the heart—and scores again and again. The picture is also consistently funny, thanks largely to Chris Hemsworth's Thor (by now a veritable riff machine), the trash-talking raccoon Rocket (again voiced by Bradley Cooper), and the incomparable Robert Downey Jr. (whose Tony Stark takes a squint at the quarrelsome quadruped and says, "For a second I thought you were a Build-A-Bear").

There's a lot going on, thus the movie's length (although, honestly, it doesn't register as overlong). Directors Anthony and Joe Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely—all returning from Infinity War and all veterans of a pair of Captain America films as well—have done a splendid job of wrapping up 11 years' worth of MCU storylines spread across 21 films (from the 2008 Iron Man right up to this year's Captain Marvel). This has allowed them to bring back a sizable crowd of characters from the earlier films, and the fact that we're already familiar with these people—that we don't have to get to know them, and can just enjoy re-embracing them—is the reason the movie radiates so much warmth.

Not all of the Avengers are on hand initially. The picture begins at that moment at the end of Infinity War when the mad intergalactic environmentalist Thanos snapped his fingers and wiped out half of the inhabitants of the universe. So the first thing we see is a flashback to an idyllic country scene with the bow-and-arrow specialist Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) enjoying some off-duty downtime with his wife and kids. It's a beautiful day. Then, suddenly, the wife and kids disappear, without so much as a poof! Next we look in on billionaire inventor Tony Stark, who's drifting through space a thousand light years from Earth with Thanos's disaffected cybernetic daughter, Nebula (Karen Gillan).  They're very nearly out of oxygen.

Five years pass. We discover that Stark somehow made it back to his home orb and is now living in a lake house in the Northern California countryside. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans at peak charisma) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson in an interestingly shaded performance) arrive there one day with Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) in tow. Lang—Ant-Man!—was trapped in the "Quantum Realm," as you may remember; but he's back now, with a big idea: time travel. If the Avengers can just round up the six Infinity Stones that gave Thanos his world-wrecking power they could…well, it's a pretty wild idea he's got, but who knows. Stark, Rogers and Romanoff sign on, and soon they're able to recruit three other former colleagues, all of whom have gone through some radical changes. Hawkeye, who may have seen The Deer Hunter one time too many, is battling katana-wielding killers on the rainy night streets of Tokyo. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, getting some major screen time at last) has overcome his anger issues and now wears glasses and normal (if very large) clothes and poses for selfies with young fans. And Thor, now basically a beer sponge, has gone seriously to seed.

So that's the setup. The Avengers split into three teams of two each and start scouring the universe. Along the way they encounter many familiar faces, some of them their own (the old time-travel thing). Deep thoughts are traded with the bald-headed Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), mentor of the late Dr. Strange. Chris Pratt does some geeky dance moves to an old '70s Redbone hit. Chadwick Boseman makes a roaring entrance with a squad of Wakandans from Black Panther. Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie wings in for a moment, Tom Hiddleston's Loki passes through, and even Red Skull—remember Red Skull?—floats around in a black cloak at one spooky point. The movie is so packed with marquee talent that there apparently wasn't enough dialogue to go around: Natalie Portman's onetime Thor squeeze Jane Foster gets very little to say, and Michael Douglas's Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man) is left lineless entirely.

Endgame is the best of the Avengers movies, I think. Maybe the final confrontation with Thanos could have been trimmed (a minion here, a monster there), and maybe somebody could have had a talk with Brie Larson, whose Captain Marvel is an oddly sour presence. But overall there's little not to like. The lack of a post-credits teaser scene feels strange after all these years—is this really the end? Will Disney really be putting this multi-billion-dollar franchise to bed now? Well, we know that Tom Holland's Spider-Man is an ongoing proposition, and that Johansson's Black Widow spinoff is still in some sort of endless pre-production; and judging by a comment that Captain America makes to Valkyrie here it seems likely she'll be back in some bigger way. The first age of the Avengers may be over, but Marvel superheroes will surely continue assembling.

NEXT: Brickbat: Down Under

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  1. This is the review I was waiting for: one that’s baggage free and takes the movie for what it is.

  2. Going to see this tonight. My big problem is managing expections. Every single review I have read is either really positive or positively glowing. For movies, low expectations are the key to happiness. (Well, maybe not just movies…)

    This was a good review: straightforward and knowing what Marvel is about. It was a bit too spoilery for me though.

    What I think is funny in some reviews are the people who find it necessary to look down their nose and sniff at how a movie like this could never get a best picture or actor nomination. But every single one of those in the end cannot contain themselves and end up barely hiding their joy at the pleasures of this movie.

    Not many movies do this: create true connections to fans, evoke emotions of the most stoic of us all, engendering love of characters, staying true to the core of the idea… These are the mark of a great movie.

    1. That movies like this generally don’t get significant Oscars (they’ll grab Best Special Effects pretty often) says more about the Academy tan it does about movies like this. Hollywood desperately wants to be thought of as home of an Art Form, and generally beclowns itself in the process.

      At least they finally gave a lifetime achievement to Roger Corman, who made more memorable and influential films (if only because of the people that got their first break in them) than the last decade’s worth of Best Directors put together.

      1. Lol at the Oscars being any more than a self-fap club. Usually the 10 movies I know to avoid due to scenery chewing and ridiculous portrayals of disability.

  3. “Mark Ruffalo, getting some major screen time at last”

    I don’t understand this comment. He had a lot of time in Ragnarok and in the previous Avengers movies. Maybe Loder said that because he has never had his own movie.

  4. “maybe somebody could have had a talk with Brie Larson, whose Captain Marvel is an oddly sour presence”

    Really? The future crazy cat lady?! Noooo, I don’t believe that for a second.

    1. I saw someone saying that she’s on screen for no more than 5 or 6 minutes, which was my biggest concern, that her presence would be way more than she deserved.

    2. More racist sexist cisgenderism. You need reeducating, Brie Larson is the hero we all deserv/ I mean have been issued

  5. Very excited to see the movie, and my scouring reviews has not resulted in any spoliation. Going into this, I think Thor:Ragnarok has been my favorite MCU movie.

  6. I’ll just wait for it to be on Netflix. Since the SJW’s Strike on sci-fi, fantasy, comics and anime. It’s been real hard for me to have the enthusiasm to go pay the outrages prices on movie tickets, plus other cost of going out.

    1. Solidarity! I’m with you, tho it won’t end up on Netflix sure to Disney’s new streaming service. I also recommend going at a less crowded time (early Sunday morning) and buying a ticket to a less objectionable film (Unplanned?) And then sneaking in. Or skip it entirely, you know how it ends already.

      1. So do they all die?

  7. I’ll just wait for it to be on Netflix. Since the SJWs Strike on sci-fi, fantasy, comics and anime. It’s been real hard for me to have the enthusiasm to go pay the outrages prices on movie tickets, plus other cost of going out.

  8. Sorry for the double posting for a minute I thought reason finally put a system were we could edit our post instead it was a copy of my last post that just could be re-posted.

  9. Do a quick review of who is whom so you can recognize them from their faces, get slightly drunk so you don’t pay too much attention to plot and it’s a great movie.

  10. Michael Douglas does have lines, but the main point that it has lots of famous people with no or few lines is accurate.

    1. Missed his utterances, I guess — thanks…

      1. He answers the phone.

  11. For all the girl-power vibe coming off Larson and Captain Marvel, the character as written is actually a wuss. I’ll only talk about her own movie, so no spoilers for Endgame. In CM, she was fantastic at blowing up things like space ships. She could blow through them entirely and make them explode into a fireball with little effort. But when it went to hand-to-hand combat, every single fight looked like a battle of equals. She’d get thrown into a wall, she’d throw the other guy into a wall. Wheeee.

    This is a woman that should be able to blast her fist through any attempt at a block, and punch straight through her opponent’s heart, yet she never does that. She should be One Punch WoMan, but instead, pulls her punches every time. Sure, the writers/directors wanted fights to be interesting and not a single punch and done, but her power should make quick work of everybody (including Thanos.)

    So, despite the hype, the character you actually see on the screen is a dud.

    1. If you think about aspects of movie plots such as the vastly differing levels of stength displayed with in the same character, I would recommend you figure out how to turn off your brain before seeing end game. It holds up under feels good but not any level of intellectual scrutiny.

  12. and maybe somebody could have had a talk with Brie Larson, whose Captain Marvel is an oddly sour presence

    This is not my shocked face.

  13. No, I found Captain Marvel a bit offputting. But then, do we really want to make every Marvel character a quip-master? I don’t know how Marvel will continue to push Captain Marvel as a character we care about (given her not-terribly-sympathetic persona), but let’s agree that not everyone should have Spiderman’s or Iron Man’s character.

  14. Endgame is a great movie, but have to disagree it is not what anyone expected. Knowing that Downey and Evans were leaving the franchise, how the movies resolves those issues is great. There are a few other surprises which I will not discuss because I hate spoilers, but I will say, I think the purpose of the movie is to transition all the remaining characters into the next phase and Endgame does that well. However, I will say that it is great to see Thanos get exactly what he deserves.

    1. Oh, I don’t know. After Infinity War I had pretty low expectations. It greatly exceeded them.

  15. One mistake in this review. It says Hank Pym is left “lineless” which is not true. When called about the “package” that is delivered, he asks if anyone opened it. He has at least one line. The main reason in the representation of him is totally CGI which is obvious.

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