NickA’s review published on Letterboxd:
I don't even know how to begin reviewing this thing. I had to see it a second time before I knew what to say, outside of highlighting certain moments in excited conversation. And even after the second viewing, it's taken me days to figure it out. Big tip though: see with friends, and see it on a big screen.
The Mike Lawrence quote above really summarizes the distinction between Infinity War and Endgame, especially for someone like me who, at this point, has more relation to the films than the books. But it's not just that. Endgame is a completely different movie. In tone, in composition, in choreography, in focus on character vs event or story. Knowing what we know about Marvel Studios, we know this is a big sendoff for some major characters, and that grants the opportunity to reexamine and spend more time with the major characters.
In Infinity War, we have so many characters, new and old, that we spend time with. Each scene has at least 4-5 named characters in it that you almost become immune to it, and it flows to seamlessly that by the time you get back to another character you're more excited to see them then you would be in a smaller movie. Endgame cuts the amount of characters in half, so you spend more time with the characters you need to.
The amount of action is hugely reduced, too. It's crazy that for a movie rounding out to about three hours, a big comic book blockbuster, that there is less action than expected -- and it totally works. The fights that matter are more fun because they're there for a reason.
The big spoilers begin here. The big major death ultimately meant nothing to me. I know that in terms of the series it's a total blow, and it affects me as a representative of the franchise, but I never felt attachment to the character. This is not a flaw of the movie or of the series, this is just my experience watching the film. Several people in the theater cried in that sequence, and the closest I came was with the character's son-figure. It was a great way for the character to go out, and as I'll go into shortly, it plays for a perfect apex for the ongoing conversation with and about the character's willingness to make the big sacrifice play.
Now, the most brilliant part of this whole event was its use of time traveling, not just as a plot device but as an almost literal trip down memory lane. The characters need to go back to 2012 and 2014, but those are also big moments for the film franchise and for us as viewers. Seeing the gang in New York during the big third act of The Avengers (2012) is phenomenal. We get to live in our memory of watching it, and see their evolution from them to now through their own eyes. It's really clever and easily one of the most fun sequences I've seen in a long time. It's full of individual moments that blew me away, but as a whole that chunk of the movie is real fun.
And it's not just about going through big moments in the each film, it's about recreating little moments from all of the films and reliving them through a different lens. We may be in the battle for New York in 2012, but we get a moment that recreates a standout sequence from 2014 (Who else was ready for another elevator brawl?)
The amount of callbacks they make to previous films that have HUGE payoffs in this movie, it's just mind-blowing. And they are fantastic. I'm sure I'll notice more and more every viewing, but the theater-erupting moment is maybe my favorite in the whole movie, maybe even the whole series: Cap. Wielding. Mjolnir. That tiiiiny little half-joke from Age of Ultron (2015) gets the best payoff I've seen. And it leads into the best combat scene The Winter Soldier (2014). More on that later.
From the first shot of the last, this film is about the characters we've spent almost 11 years with, and that's an amazing feat. Infinity War was about plot, Endgame is about the characters involved. And because the amount of time we spend with the important ones is nearly doubled, we get the right amount of time. Save for Black Widow, our original Avengers cast gets the perfect sendoff. I truly don't think it could be better. Huge accomplishment.
-the opening scene was the perfect in-between for Infinity War and Endgame
-Tony, distracted "what's new with composting?"
-Rocket and Nebula hold hands
-Scott Lang eating food
-Steve Rodgers swears now
-Korg plays video games
-Thor, God of Thunder, roasts internet trolls
-Thor, God of Thunder, requires different varieties of beer
-Scott reunites with daughter, Paul Rudd ACTS
-Thanos' double sword is wow
-Tony gives Steve his shield
-Nebula gets a great storyline
-Rhodes has seen lots of movies
-first openly queer MCU character
-2023 NYC, Steve still trying to help the people
-2012 NYC, Cap Elevator Scene
-2012 NYC, Now Cap fights Then Cap
-Scott Lang loves Captain America
-Scott Lang loves Captain America and defends his butt
-Hulk hates stairs. So many stairs.
-Loki still loves the Tesseract hey where did Loki go
-Rocket is a great character?? Bradley Cooper is great as an animated thing???
-Thor gets to tell his mom he loves her
-Rhodes is one of many in this movie that have a moment recognizing Nebula's pain
-the back-and-forth fight to sacrifice on Vormir
-Haley Atwell's return, my heart beats
-Steve sees Peggy, Tony sees his dad, feelings
-samurai short film is super out of place?
-no clue how to feel about Professor Hulk
-scott becomes a baby oh no, then an old man oh no, then he pees? thaat could have been cut
-movie doesn't feel three hours but some of the first hour could be cut
-could have done without iron gwyneth
-Captain Marvel seriously does not help this movie
-Captain Marvel is too overpowered to not raise questions about why she didn't do more sooner? Girl could have wielded the gauntlet? could have killed Thanos' ship sooner? her powers are super hard to understand... she's the new Scarlett Witch, but golden?
-might not be a Low, but does the impact of Thanos' death here mean less because he's not the Thanos that won in Infinity War? is this less of a victory? not sure yet
THIRD ACT HIGHS, SO AS NOT TO END ON A LOW NOTE
-Ant-Man saves Hulk, Rhodes, and Rocket
-Thor Dual Wielding Mjolnir AND Stormbreaker
-BEST MOMENT IN MCU HISTORY: CAP WIELDING MJOLNIR AND KICKING THANOS' ASS WITH A HAMMER AND HIS SHIELD AND AHHHHHHHH
-Thanos' comeback from that where he beats Cap up! Breaks his shield!!
-all hope is lost, but Cap gets up
-"hey Cap... can you h... On Your Left."
-all of the portals
-allllllll of the portals
-Spidey! Black Panther!
-Peter and Tony have a moment
-Giant-Man punches a space eel!
-Scarlett Witch ruins Thanos' day!
-almost the entirety of the giant third act battle!!
-Strange raises his index finger
-"I. Am. *pause* Iron Man."
-Peter and Tony have a moment (Part 2)
-how expensive was that tracking shot on the dock?
-All Hail Queen Valkyrie
-Asgardians of the Galaxy??
-"you're bringing all the stupid with you"
-Goodbye Falcon, Hello Captain America
-SECOND BEST MOMENT IN MCU HISTORY: STEVE DANCES WITH PEGGY, a medicated Nick almost weeps!
-audience applause, everyone is smiling, the guy in front of me in the theater is so dramatic, the wonderful gays behind me in the theater talk about the hot men in the film, applause continues, *iron suit clanking sound*
Overall, this is a really difficult movie to rank within the MCU, because in a lot of ways it IS the MCU. It's hard to compare to anything else in the series. It's especially hard to compare to Infinity War. I think the lows of this are lower than anything in Infinity War, but the highs are perhaps the highest of the whole series. I've never seen a movie that tied a bow around 21 movies before, and in a lot of ways Endgame knocked it out of the park.