Friend 2 Pudding’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'd cooled on this since release but I really enjoyed this most recent viewing. Have to say, watching it immediately after Ant Man 2 and Captain Marvel does it a world of favours (and Rudd and Larson each get a vastly better showcase here than in their own most recent films).
Endgame's biggest problem is absolutely that Infinity War exists and is a prettier, tighter film. But it operates well as, like, cinema's first season finale and the beats it needed to land it lands like gangbusters. I saw this for the first time at a packed cinema in Barcelona and I can still remember, really vividly, the exact beats people lost their minds at. And it's easy to get lost in the three-hour jumble, but the opening stretch closing out with Thanos's execution is really, really striking.
The MCU is at its worst at its most formulaic. Endgame's kind of interesting in that... I really can't think of a prior film that had to do the things this film was supposed to do really, a closing out a 20-odd film saga. Think it also helps that Star Wars IX is probably the film with the closest task, and kind of fucked it.
I mostly find the Scorsese 'not cinema' debate... not particularly interesting - like, after a point, I guess I don't really see that much of an argument for, eg, Doctor Strange not being cinema if, say Men In Black - which sits really clearly in a pulp cinema lineage - is. There's questions about the state of cinema and exhibition and all that, after a point it kind of ends up beached on questions of semantics so I cba.
What I do find kind of funny is that Endgame (probably not one of the ones he saw) absolutely typifies his characterisation of these films as rollercoasters, but it's also one of the best MCU entries and it makes you wish, if anything, more of these could operate in that register. I kind of wish more of the MCU could be characterised as a sort of thrill ride in that way (tho it'd be diminishing returns after a point), as, i have never been bored by rollercoasters in the way I got bored by Ant Man 2. But I suppose that makes you think about how rollercoasters work. The slow journey getting cranked up the top of the dip isn't fun, the drop is. I guess what I'm saying is, Ant Man 2/CM/etc are the cranking, IW and Endgame are the drop.
It's just funny really. The MCU has highs and lows, which isn't an original insight. I'm strapped in for the ride really. I do think IW and Endgame stand now as the blissful time during which, however briefly, the MCU justified its place at the absolute dead centre of pop culture gravity.
I'm not too animated about all the rest, because as a cinematic experiment I think the MCU's basically unrepeatable - and also has (to continue the rollercoaster metaphor, sort of) turned an interesting corner - its big stars stepped out or on their last project (I imagine Thor 4 is It for Hemsworth), its new breakout star having passed away at a critical juncture, Sony liable to walk at any moment. And also, having just handed (at least some of) the reins to Chloe Zhao - who i appreciate letterboxd seems to have just soured on. But The Rider is a phenomenal film and, as a hire, she's so far beyond the usual order of indie-to-blockbuster pipeline. Hopefully her cinematographer behaves. Anyway see ya when Black Widow's out.