Quite a Swansong
FILM REVIEW SACHIN CHATTE
Film: Avengers: Endgame
Cast: Robert Downey Jr. Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Brie Larson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Rudd, Josh Brolin
Directed by: Joe and Anthony Russo
Duration: 3 hrs 2 mins
Rating: * * * *
Avengers: Endgame marks the culmination of 22 films from the Marvel cinematic universe and the fourth Avengers films after the self-titled one in 2012 followed by Age of Ultron (2015) and Infinity War (2018). The build-up to this film has been unprecedented and the film will ring the cash registers as loud as a death metal concert. So is it worth the hype and the wait? The answer is yes and yes, primarily because this is a big screen spectacle and there is an effort to make a clever film rather than just let it run on autopilot. The scale and magnitude of it will impress even those who are not particularly fond of superhero films.
Films based on comic books have their own fan following – of the 21 films prior to this, some of them have been a hit, some of them have been a miss but all of them made money for the studio.
Endgame is a good old fashioned 3-hour long film – there are more than a dozen superheroes here and they all need some screen time. They are battling a single villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) who wiped out half of the population and a bunch of superheroes as well when he became super powerful after acquiring the Infinity Stones in the previous film. You don’t need an in-depth knowledge about the past films; you could just walk into Endgame and still enjoy it. But it is a very smart screenplay because it will keep fanboys busy with the details and other references.
These superhero films have heavily relied on humor particularly in the last few years – Thor (2011) started out seriously but since the film turned out to be a dud, he returned as a funny guy in Ragnarok (2017) and that worked out well. Endgame has a fair bit of mind because it deals with time travel, a lot of heart, an emotional farewell in the climax and in between all that, it also tickles your funny bone.
It opens with Traffic belting out Dear Mr Fantasy on the soundtrack – the surviving Avengers from Infinity War are still coming to terms with what happened when Thanos caused the destruction that he intended to. Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are picking up the pieces along with a pot-bellied Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and a slightly different looking Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). To say anything more than the fact that there is a Philip K Dick’ish kind of time travel involved, would act as a spoiler.
Given the length of the film, it takes its own sweet time to settle down and changes gears only after the one hour mark. As the audience, it also took me a while to empathise with the characters – the problems they have on hand are of a completely different nature and something that needs a superheroic effort to deal with. But kudos to the writers, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely for pacing the screenplay in the right measure – what you are likely to remember of Endgame is the finale – a shot where the camera moves from one superhero to another will bring out the emotions that it intends to – after all, not many films will give an opportunity to have so many popular characters and actors in a single shot. Endgame also successfully brings out the human side of almost all the central characters. Also, what gave me goose bumps was a shot where all the ladies gather standing with each other.
Peppered with songs by The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and the likes, the last one, It’s Been a Long Long Time by Kitty Kallen and Harry James orchestra is the best and befitting for the bittersweet ending. The last time we saw so many actors in a three hour span was during the Oscar ceremony, but here, they all have an important part to play. Apart from the regular actors, it was fun to see Robert Redford and Michael Douglas in cameos, the latter in a CGI and non-CGI version.
All in all, Endgame is a pretty good swansong for many characters – but given that studios are calling the shots and this film will rake in a lot of moolah, but for now, we have heard the last of them.