Avengers: Endgame

 

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In Marvel’s Book of Revelation, the end is remodelled to allow for even more of the same with ever-ponderous results.

   
Avengers Endgame

 

In a post-apocalyptic future, half the life on our “stubborn, annoying little planet” has been wiped out. Not by the small-minded greed of the world’s motorists and carnivores, but by Thanos, the guy with the biggest ego in the universe. His appetite for power proved so great that he obliterated everything he knew, ending up having to cook his own supper on a distant planet. For a brief second, this seemed like a good idea for a morality tale, a lesson on selfish wish-fulfilment. But, alas, Marvel had other plans.

 

The twenty-second instalment in Marvel Studios’ Cinematic Universe, Endgame arrives with so much secrecy that it’s a critic’s duty to merely hint at – and not reveal – the contents of humankind’s most expensive movie. I will say that this humungous mechanism of self-importance is not only a Titanic disappointment, but a lost opportunity. With so many dollars and role models at the beck and call of Marvel and Disney, a state-of-the-planet sermon might have provided more than just thousands of jobs. As it is, the film is like a game of chess with an endless number of pieces in which the rules are constantly changed thanks to the legerdemain of quantum physics.

 

Both an epic culmination and a sequel to Avengers: Infinity War – at the UK box-office the highest-grossing film of 2018 – Endgame ostensibly takes off where the last film left off. The latter ended with a Biblical Armageddon – the Book of Revelation – in which we saw the desiccation of Spider-Man, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Peter Quill, Groot, Uncle Tom Cobley and all, leaving comic fans in a state of deep dudgeon. It was like the finale to Hamlet.

 

Here, then, we still have Tony Stark aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner aka the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Nebula (Karen Gillan) and Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson). They’re still a formidable bunch, especially Carol, who arrives with a spaceship on her back; but, understandably, they are all pretty down in the dumps. Then up pops Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) – aka Scott Lang – who got stuck in the quantum realm when all the carnage was going on. And he has an idea: what if, through the chicanery of quantum physics, they travel back in time and alter the outcome?

 

The premise – augmented by Tony Stark’s concept of an “inverted Möbius strip” – leads to a shaggy-dog narrative allowing for all sorts of cameos from stars buried in previous episdoes (Was that really Natalie Portman getting out of bed? Was that a young Michael Douglas running down the corridor?). The trouble is that the prevalence of computer-generated imagery plays tricks on the mind and one is never sure whether the actors have actually turned up on set or have been animated. The Hulk himself doesn’t seem to occupy real space, while the customary action sequences get even more confusing when characters end up fighting themselves in different time frames. Amongst all the mayhem, there is some humour, and the odd cinematic allusion to keep the geeks happy (even Hot Tub Time Machine gets a mention). Ultimately, though, watching Avengers: Endgame is akin to attending a crazy, crowded party where the music is cranked up so loud you don’t get a chance to talk to anybody, let alone spend quality time with them.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Paul Rudd, Brie Larson, Karen Gillan, Danai Gurira, Bradley Cooper, Josh Brolin, Zoe Saldana, Chadwick Boseman, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Evangeline Lilly, Tessa Thompson, Rene Russo, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Letitia Wright, John Slattery, Tilda Swinton, Jon Favreau, Hayley Atwell, Natalie Portman, Marisa Tomei, Taika Waititi, Angela Bassett, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, William Hurt, Kerry Condon, Cobie Smulders, Sean Gunn, Winston Duke, Linda Cardellini, Maximiliano Hernández, James D’Arcy, Vin Diesel, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert Redford, Chris Pratt, Samuel L. Jackson, Joe Russo, Frank Grillo, Hiroyuki Sanada, Alexandra Rachael Rabe, Terry Notary, Stan Lee, Ken Jeong, Ty Simpkins, Sophia Russo.

 

Dir Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, Pro Kevin Feige, Screenplay Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, Ph Trent Opaloch, Pro Des Charles Wood, Ed Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt, Music Alan Silvestri, Costumes Judianna Makovsky.

 

Marvel Studios-Walt Disney

180 mins. USA. 2019. Rel: 25 April 2019. Cert. 12A.