Avengers: Endgame Review

Avengers: Endgame movie posterSynopsis
After Thanos (Josh Brolin) successfully eliminated half of all life in the universe, the Avengers search for a way to defeat Thanos and undo his actions.

Review
And I thought Avengers: Infinity War was an event! Avengers: Endgame blows Infinity War out of the water in terms of spectacle and scope, which is saying a lot. Where Infinity War was the beginning of the end of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) era (now dubbed the “Infinity Saga”), Endgame is the finite end of the era. Whether you’ve been with these characters since Iron Man in 2008 or jumped in somewhere along the way, if you’ve spent any time with these characters and formed connections to them, you will more than likely find this a gratifying conclusion to the tapestry woven over the last eleven years.

If you somehow have stayed away from the MCU until this point, this is not the time to jump in. From specific moments or plot points from previous films, the story is seeped in the history of the MCU. We are given reminders along the way of why we have fallen for and cheered for these characters over the years. If you have no idea of who the characters are, their story arcs and growth, or what they are talking about, the subtleties will probably be lost on you, and will potentially ruin those moments for you if you do decide to revisit the other films later on.

You might think that with a three hour run time this film would drag on. If you thought that, you’d be wrong. This film is three hours long but it never feels that way. Not once did I think “when will this end?” The pacing never felt too rushed or too slow. When movies run as long as Endgame does, you might think there are scenes that could be removed but every scene plays a part and serves a purpose. The entire three hours is needed to make the story feel complete. Also, each act feels unique, helping mitigate issues of repetitiveness.

The films of the MCU have been hit or miss in terms of balancing their signature humor with more dramatic moments. Endgame manages to balance the two more than most other films in the MCU. If you like the humor then there will be plenty for you to laugh at. The quips come fast and loose as you have come to expect from these films. However, when the drama needs to take front and center, it does. In other movies in the franchise, humor can undermine the quieter, intimate moments. While there are a few moments that feel weakened by an abrupt joke, for the most part, the dramatic moments are given the room they need to have the emotional impact they deserve.

Every movie in this franchise has been character driven to some extent but Endgame might be the most character driven film of them all. The entire first act is spent following the remaining Avengers and seeing how Thanos’ victory has affected them. Even during the second act when the film picks up momentum, there are still plenty of instances when the action steps back and lets the characters drive the story forward. The full three hour run time is used to satisfy those who want to see big action pieces as well as those who want the nuanced scenes as well.

As someone who sees Marvel and Star Wars films opening weekend (if not opening night), I have seen some pretty enthusiastic crowds. Yet I have never been apart of a more energetic crowd than the one I was watching this movie with. In the final act, we get the battle between the heroes and the villains that we have been waiting for. This battle is the definition of epic. It is up there with the the Battle for Helmes Deep in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers or the Battle on Planet Doom from Ready Player One. This battle is filled with so many “hell, yeah!” moments that had everyone whooping and cheering and throwing their fists in the air. It’s events like these that makes me so happy to be a part of these fandoms.

I thought Avengers: Endgame was GREAT 😀 While I would love to go into more details, I want to stay away from spoilers on the off-chance you haven’t seen it yet. I applauded Avengers: Infinity War for its ability to bring together plot threads laid down over the previous ten years. Now, Avengers: Endgame should be applauded for its ability to give those threads a satisfying and fitting conclusion. There are a lot of emotions to be felt, particularly if you’ve kept up with the MCU since the beginning. Marvel Studios has been a Hollywood pioneer in world- and franchise-building and Avengers: Endgame is a magnificent payoff to what they have been creating all these years. Although there is still a future in the MCU, this chapter has come to a close with the biggest bang possible.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Anthony Russo – Director
Joe Russo – Director
Christopher Markus – Writer
Stephen McFeely – Writer
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Starring literally everyone

Movie Quote of the Week – 12/1/17

Answer to MWL 11/29/17: Steve Rogers / Captain America (Chris Evans) – The Avengers

Bruce Banner: I mean, what are we, a team? No, no, no. We are a chemical mixture that makes chaos. We’re- we’re a time bomb.
Nick Fury: You need to step away.
Tony Stark: Why shouldn’t the guy let off a little steam?
Steve Rogers: You know damn well why! Back off!
Tony: Oh, I’m starting to want you to make me.
Steve: Yeah. Big man in a suit of armor. Take that off, what are you?
Tony: Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.
Steve: I know guys with none of that worth ten of you. I’ve seen the footage. The only thing you really fight for is yourself. You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play, to lay down on a wire and let the other guy crawl over you.
Tony: I think I would just cut the wire.
Steve: Always a way out. You know, you may not be a threat, but you better stop pretending to be a hero.
Tony: A hero? Like you? You’re a laboratory experiment, Rogers. Everything special about you came out of a bottle.
Steve: Put on the suit. Let’s go a few rounds.

Thanks for everyone’s submissions and one superhero suit to the following people for answering correctly:

Tom (Plain, Simple Tom Reviews)
Curt (The Hypersonic55’s Realm of Reviews and Other Stuff)
SG (Rhyme and Reason)
Carson Maitland – Smith
MDC Infos (Marvel, DC, and Cinema News, Fun Facts and Info)

How about that Avengers: Infinity War Trailer, eh?

The Avengers: Age of Ultron Review

The Avengers: Age of Ultron movie posterSynopsis
When the Avengers retrieve Loki’s scepter from Hydra, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) use the artificial intelligence inside to jumpstart Tony’s global peacekeeping program, called the Ultron Program. The experiment works, creating a being calling itself Ultron. When Ultron decides the only way to complete his programming to protect the Earth is the eradication of the human race, Tony, Bruce and the rest of the Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), must stop Ultron.

Review
The Avengers: Age of Ultron had some big shoes to fill. The Avengers was a cinematic marvel, doing the unthinkable. Bringing heroes from previous movies together for a new adventure. Could Marvel catch lightning in a bottle twice? I’m pleased to say: Yea, they kinda did.

I thought The Avengers started big but Age of Ultron came out the gate swinging! Immediately, it starts with a brawl in the fictional country of Sokovia that was larger than almost every action scene in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to date. The banter between each of the characters was fun and comical, showcasing that they are a group of friends now, unlike in the last movie. It did a good job to show how the team has come together since the Battle of New York.

Since this is the second Avengers’ outing as a team and because most of these characters have their own solo films, there is no need to develop the characters individually. We already saw Tony Stark deal with his PTSD from fighting an alien force, we already saw Steve Rogers deal with a world different than the one he left behind in the 1940s, so there is no need to waste time on that here. Instead, the focus is more on the characters coming together as a team. This lead to some great moments demonstrating their camaraderie, especially the heavily advertised scene with the team trying to lift Thor’s hammer and the opening sequence I talked about a moment ago. This enabled the movie to move quickly as well. Without the need to spend time on bringing the team together, the story breezed through, which was probably a good thing considering there was a lot to get through.

Hawkeye, one character who hasn’t been in a movie since The Avengers, finally gets his character fleshed out. One of the more disappointing things about the first Avengers movie was Hawkeye wasn’t really Hawkeye until the last act of the film. This time around, he is the character who gets the most development. However, part of that is because all the other characters had their development in their own movies as mentioned previously. It was also to set him up for what happens later in the film.

I really liked how some characters were close their comic book counterparts. One of which is Ultron. He has an Oedipus complex towards his creator, in this case Tony Stark (Hank Pym in the comics). Every time he was compared to Stark he got upset and said he was better than him. Then with Vision, he was created by Ultron. Throughout the film, he calls himself “Son of Ultron’ which is said frequently in the comics.

Age of Ultron acted as a crossroads of sorts for previous and future MCU stories. There were many references to Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. At the same time, there was plenty of set up for several movies in Phase 3, such as Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther. At first it may seem like all these extra scenes bloat the movie, which it does, but it ends up working in the film because they are one-and-done. They go to Wakanda, then leave. Boom, done. Thor goes to some magical watering hole. Boom, done. The Avengers storm a Hydra base. Boom, done. A lot is introduced, but it moves quickly and never lingers so it never becomes too much. It also made it feel like an event series that happens in comic books (or at least the more recent ones that tend to set up future stories).

Ever since James Spader was announced as the voice of Ultron, I was on board. He is absolutely perfect as the criminal Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington in The Blacklist (which I highly recommend you checkout if you’re not watching it already), and truly brought Ultron to life. He even brought some of the same mannerisms as when he plays Red. I only had one problem with him: he was almost too humorous. As a killer robot, I think he should have been a little more serious. Much like the rest of the cast, he had many one liners. He still could have a few zingers but not as many as he did. In any case, Spader was a great fit.

One of the things I was looking forward to most was seeing how Scarlet Witch’s powers were implemented. In the comics, she has a magical power set, called Chaos Magic. It has nearly endless and limitless possibilities which probably wouldn’t have translated well into the world created in the MCU. I like the way they were portrayed, kind of like telekinesis and telepathy but not too crazy. It was weird seeing Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson play siblings after playing husband and wife in Godzilla. They did well but the highlight of the three new heroes is definitely Vision.  Paul Bettany finally got to physically appear in the MCU and knocks it out of the park. I’m looking forward to seeing him most in the future.

Vision’s introduction was hilariously done and it he was a perfect complement to Ultron. Although, his introduction was rushed and his powers weren’t explained very well. He has the ability to change his density and “phase” through objects. Unless you knew that, it may not have been clear. Even I had a hard time catching at first that when he was fighting the Ultron robots he was phasing and not simply punching through them. I was thinking about how they could have demonstrated his powers without a long explanation and I think I got it: have him phase through a wall. It would have been simple and less ambiguous as to what he can do.

This paragraph contains major spoilers. Highlight to read.
Still here? Ok. So I will admit I was taken by surprise by Quicksilver’s death. The whole movie seemed like it was setting up for Hawkeye to get axed, some rumors before the movie was released seemed like that would happen and in an interview, Joss Whedon admitted that was his plan. It was both good and bad. The good is that it was a surprise. If Hawkeye had gotten killed, it would have been seen from a mile away. The bad is that it was Quicksilver. Had it been Hawekeye, or at least some established character, it would have been more impactful and heartbreaking. It would have been nice to get more Quicksilver in the future, too. However, it was a good was to show the character’s transformation and to establish him as a hero.

One of the best things about the previous Avengers film was it was genuinely funny. Every Marvel film since has done the same thing and was successful to varying degress. However, here it felt forced. Don’t get me wrong, I still laughed my ass off, but it just didn’t feel the same, like they were trying too hard.

The Avengers: Age of Ultron had a lot going on and could have easily imploded on itself. But only as Whedon could, it manages not to and juggles everything perfectly. It may not be perfect, but Age of Ultron is fun and an example of how to do a sequel right. Now my excitement for the future of the MCU has only grown.

Rating
4/5

Also check out my reviews for the other films in Marvel’s Phase 2: Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Joss Whedon – Director / Writer
Danny Elfman – Composer
Brian Tyler – Composer

Robert Downey Jr. – Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans – Steve Rogers / Captain America
Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner / Hulk
Scarlett Johansson – Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner – Clint Barton / Hawkeye
James Spader – Ultron (voice)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver
Elizabeth Olsen – Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch
Paul Bettany – JARVIS (voice) / Vision
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Cobie Smulders – Maria Hill
Claudia Kim – Dr. Helen Cho
Don Cheadle – James Rhodes / War Machine
Anthony Mackie – Sam Wilson / The Falcon
Hayley Atwell – Peggy Carter
Idris Elba – Heimdall
Stellen Skarsgard – Erik Selvig
Linda Cardellini – Laura Barton
Thomas Kretschmann – Strucker
Andy Serkis – Ulysses Klaue
Julie Delpy – Madame B
Henry Goodman – Dr. List


This review was a long time coming.  I saw Age of Ulron on Thursday 4/30!  But between my procrastination (which often includes video games or more movies) and my last few weekends filled with visiting family, yard work and a lot (a LOT) of gardening, I didn’t have much time to focus on this.  It didn’t help either that this is my longest review to date.  Up next is finally accepting the award given to me from Justine from over a month ago!  And Mark and Tom, my review of Tommy Boy is very high on my list of things to do for your Decades Blogathon.  Then probably a review of Tangled and I’ll look at reviewing a few films on my “recommended to me” list.  Anyway, I hope my review for The Avengers: Age of Ultron was worth the wait. 🙂

The Avengers (Avengers Assemble) Review

The Avengers move posterSynopsis
When Loki (Tom Hiddleston) comes to Earth seeking to enslave all of humanity, the Earth’s mightiest heroes, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) must learn to work together as a team to stop him and his invading Chitauri forces.

Review
This is it. This is what everything since Iron Man leads up to. It was a huge endeavor Marvel took on bringing all these heroes together in one film. Nothing had been done like it before. The idea of a cinematic “shared universe” for any franchise was nearly unheard of. However, it makes so much sense looking at the source material. All these characters occupy one comic universe, why can’t they do the same on screen?

Right away it’s easy to feel how the movie is going to go. It opens with a SHIELD base exploding and a high octane chase scene, setting the expectations for the rest of the film. You know right away that the ride is going to be fast paced and exciting. The action throughout the movie was so much fun to watch. With this being a first time team-up between these heroes, they needed to flex their muscles and fight each other (naturally). The highlight being the fight between the Marvel Trinity: Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Then they came full circle when they were working together as a team fighting the Chitauri at they end. The small things, like Iron Man reflecting his repulsors off Cap’s shield, were the most satisfying.

Joss Whedon is the definition of a fan favorite. He has been involved in beloved series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, one of my personal favorites, Firefly. I can’t think of anyone better Marvel could have picked to pioneer this ultimate team-up. Nothing is wasted. Every moment captured on screen is used efficiently and to progress either the story or a character. There is plenty of organic humor throughout the entire movie. It never feels forced or shoehorned. It’s all friendly banter or very in-line with the character. There is nothing worse than forced humor in a film (OK, I can think of maybe a few things but that’s high up on my list).

I really liked Edward Norton as Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk. I wasn’t too happy to hear he was replaced with Mark Ruffalo. My disappointment had nothing to do with Ruffalo but stemmed from wanting to keep actors consistent. But man, am I glad Ruffalo did take over because he is probably the best Banner ever on screen. One of the reasons I think he worked so well in the cast is because he was able to occupy the background without being overshadowed. With actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans who have big personas, I feel Norton would have been another big personality and wouldn’t have meshed as well with the rest of the cast. Whereas Ruffalo is more mellow and can hang back without becoming someone who simply occupies the background. The whole situation was a good blend of personalities.

Another great thing about The Avengers is how seemingly infinitely quotable it is. It seems like every scene someone says something that stuck with me. The better lines mostly come from Stark but other characters get their time to shine, too.

Although this is an ensemble movie (and everyone gets a fair, balanced amount of screen time and development) I have felt Phase One has always been about Tony Stark. He is the one who has grown the most since meeting him in the “funvee” blaring AC/DC’s “Back in Black” He was a self-centered egotist but become someone who was willing to sacrifice themselves to save the world. None of the others had as big character growths. I guess it helps, too, that he had two movies before this one.

One of the only complaints I have is Hawkeye getting mind controlled from the beginning. To be straight, my problem isn’t with him getting mind controlled. I feel that his mind control would have more of an impact if we were invested in him more. He had a cameo in Thor, then the next time he is scene he switches sides. It gave off the reaction of “So? why should we care about this guy following Loki?” Of course people who followed the comic books knew why that was a problem but I’m not sure how non-comic book people felt about it.

The Avengers is everything comic fans had hoped it would be and more. The culmination of four years finally paying off in a huge way. It perfectly balances humor and action, as well as characters. The Avengers was a huge gamble that payed of in spades, forever changing superhero films.

Rating
5/5

Also check out my reviews for the other films in Marvel’s Phase 1: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.

Favorite Quote
Steve Rogers: I want to know why Loki let us take him. He’s not leading an army from here.
Bruce Banner: I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.
Thor: Have care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason but he is of Asgard and he is my brother.
Natasha Romanoff: He killed 80 people in two days.
Thor: He is adopted.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Joss Whedon – Director / Screenplay / Story
Zak Penn – Story
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Robert Downey Jr. – Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans – Steve Rogers / Captain America
Mark Ruffalo – Bruce Banner / The Hulk
Chris Hemsworth – Thor
Scarlett Johansson – Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner – Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston – Loki
Clark Gregg – Agen Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders – Agent Maria Hill
Stellen Skarsgard – Selvig
Samuel L. Jackson – Nick Fury
Gwyneth Paltrow – Pepper Potts
Paul Bettany – JARVIS (voice)
Alexis Denisof – The Other

Monday Movie Fun Fact – 9/29/14

The Avengers eating swarma after their defeat of the Chitauri

The post-credits scene of The Avengers where the team is eating shawarma was added after the day after its Hollywood premier.  The idea for this scene came about after Robert Downey, Jr. improved one of his lines.  When he crashes to the ground after falling back through the portal, he was originally supposed to say “What’s next?” Downey felt the line could be more interesting, so he added the lines about going to get shawarma after they had defeated the Chitauri.

It was reported that shawarma sales received a boost shortly after the movie was released. Talk about free press!