This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jim Caddick’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
A fitting and great end to a saga, but not perfect. At least, in my opinion.
Sorry it’s been a while again - been quite busy getting the videos done! Plus, I figured it’d be nice to give this movie a little breathing room, not only because it’s long as hell, but so that I could not get burnout from seeing the same people battling in the same locations over again. Just to reiterate as well; I’m judging this based on my expectations surrounding a superhero movie.
The most important thing to say first above anything else with Endgame is that for a 3 hour long movie, it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Using a collection of different locations and side-plots as the heroes work together to stop Thanos, Endgame manages to balance all of these different mini-quests along each other really nicely, since every different location featured usually includes a different group of heroes with their own chemistry, which then lead to all of these side-quests feeling totally unique with their own moods and tones, own sense of humour, and own style of action; therefore making the 3 hour runtime not feel like a drag. As weird as this will sound - this movie is the Marvel version of when the Scooby gang split up, but it’s done well, and feels natural; leading to a rather epic concluding battle with some of the grandest visual effects and insane battles in the entire series. They saved the big guns until the last Avengers movie, and it feels like it. They even brought time travel into the series as a main plot point for the first time - and it’s done relatively believably, leading to interesting scenarios and entertaining moments that stand out from the rest of the series. Considering this is the 22nd movie in a series that was starting to feel samey, this is a feat in and of itself.
Everything I like about the better Marvel movies is here and accounted for when it comes to the humour, dialogue and action - and bearing in mind the runtime, whether or not the plot integrates well into the scenes, it’s still a blast. Civilised Hulk will never not be funny. Fat and depressed Thor will never not be funny. And to give the film credit, with those 2 examples specifically, they don’t pander with fan service - they remain in these broken and unrecognisable states for the whole film, and it’s moves the film makes like that that will make me remember this movie more than the epic concluding segments.
This, however, is where I find Endgame falls slightly. I do think the general plot and story is fine to follow along with, but when stepping back and remembering this is a conclusion of a million different character arcs and stories over 21 other movies, it feels more like a clusterfuck excuse to have every single other movie character in 1 fight scene at the end, more than a satisfying STORY conclusion. Don’t get me wrong, it’s satisfying and well-done as a collaborative action movie featuring every character we’ve come to know, but considering that we’re now fighting another VERSION of Thanos due to the time travel plot, and every other character just appears in the end parts as cannon fodder, it has a slight feeling of deflation knowing it’s been leading all the way to this final fight. You can’t have it all, I’m aware, I even really loved how the film opened up with the original Thanos being decapitated by Thor and spiralling him into depression - it’s bold, attention-grabbing and intriguing - but this does come at the cost of us having to fight another Thanos that has no clue about the immense amount of destruction and emotional tyranny against the characters we’ve been following since 2008.
This also lends itself to a slightly confusing ending, which isn’t only confusing, but in my opinion, totally unnecessary. I understand 100% wanting to start the chronology with Captain America, then end the chronology with the ending that Captain America was supposed to get - but from the very second this film begins, it hammers in the point that this version of time travel creates splits whenever they affect the past (ie, if they go back in time to kill Thanos as a baby and then go back to the present, they’ve only fixed the future for THAT reality they went back to, not the reality THEY come from [hence their plan of needing to grab all the infinity stones in different periods of history works, because they can move physical objects with them back to their reality and therefore undo the damage caused by Thanos, who is already dead in their reality, so can’t stop them]). With that being the case, after Captain America goes back in time to return the infinity stones at the VERY end.....why the hell does he then show up as an old man? I get that he chose to stay in the past and live the life he always wanted, but if he went back in time to do that, the movie clearly states that he should have gone back to ANOTHER REALITY - not the current reality that the rest of the cast chose to stay in. If that is our Captain America that we know from the beginning, does that mean there were always 2 Captain America copies roaming around since the 1940’s - one old and one young? If that’s the case, why the ‘alternative reality’ plot point? Plus - I thought it was a dumb and cheesy ending anyway, so in my opinion, the effort gone into confusing the fuck out of me and breaking its own rules meant nothing. I think a much more minimalist ending of Captain America simply going back in time to put the stones back, the characters then going ‘oh, where is he?!’ and then cutting to that scene of him and his true love he never got would have been a perfect little sendoff.
Don’t get me wrong though, Endgame is still is great time, and I wasn’t disappointed at all. It was all worth it to see some of Tony Stark’s final words be the first words he says to the public at the end of the first ever movie in the entire MCU - ‘I am Iron Man’. It was a good ride, and I’m looking forward to future Marvel endeavours. Now, please give me Thor 3: The Ice Cream Diaries.