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FILM REVIEW: AVENGERS – ENDGAME (12A) ESP RATING: 5/5

Marvel have powerfully completed their Infinity saga in a truly exhilarating fashion – firing out an emotionally impactful end to the Avengers four-part story.

There’s still Spider-Man: Far from Home to complete Phase Three of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe – but to all intents and purposes this is the juggernaut blockbuster culmination to eleven years of hard graft from Kevin Feige and his eclectic band of superheroes.

There’s so much packed into the three hours that you could find quite ‘dizzying’ unless you’re a superhero ‘fanboy’ – but when it threatens to sometimes go off the rails, directors The Russo Brothers reign it back in to keep it thundering on course.

To name everything’s that going on here would be like singing an Endgame-themed version of Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire – as there’s so much jammed in here – and a review three times this length would be required to explain every ‘nod’ across the 22 films.

Just to let you know in advance, this will be as spoiler free as possible – with no major spoilers to be read.

The bizarre thing is this is a Hawkeye – who was completely missing last time round – story more than anything. With a bit of Ant-Man thrown in. Which then evolves into an Iron-Man and Captain America story by the finale.

Five years after the devastating events of Infinity War the world is in ruins. With half the world’s population disappearing – known as The Vanished – society is struggling to pick itself up with houses abandoned and streets full of waste.

Tony Stark/Iron-Man (Robert Downey Jr) has settled into a quite life with wife Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their now four-year-old daughter – but is still silently devastated after seeing Tom Holland’s Spidey crumble before his very eyes. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow – with the aid of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) – leads what is left of the Avengers – predominantly War Machine (Don Cheadle), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) – who are being stretched across the globe to fight crime.

But when Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) gets thrown out of the Quantum Realm that he has been stuck in since the end of Ant-Man and the Waspfive years ago – which only felt like a few hours to him – the theory of time travel is explored, and when it is deemed possible they could reverse the effects of Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) decimation, the Avengers must assemble once more.

This means convincing Stark to aid Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner – who has now settled for Banner/Hulk hybrid of himself with noteworthy comedic-relief moments – helping Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to ditch his drunken slumber, and stopping Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye killing every bad guy in sight.

What ensues is something that you may struggle to keep abreast of – unless you’re a real fan of the universe.

Because for ‘course correction’ to make sure nobody dies, the team must go back in time to get all six Infinity Stones before they get into Thanos’ glove.

And that sends the crew across multiple timelines that cover Avengers Assemble, the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Winter Soldier, Infinity War – and even arguably the runt of the MCU litter, Thor: The Dark World.

Like alluded to before, going back to timelines mainly encompassing 2012-14 does get a little complex – but all the pieces of the jigsaw just about cling together to lead up to an enthralling finale.

Before that, loose-ends galore are tied up with special cameos from the likes of Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) and Korg (TaikaWaititi) from Thor: Ragnarok, perished bad guys such asLoki (Tom Hiddleston), Crossbones (Frank Grillo) and Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), as well as fan favourites appearances from Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, Rene Russo’s Frigga and TildaSwinton’s The Ancient One, which adds sensational continuity – and plenty of fan service to boot.

Brie Larson’s most-powerful Avenger Captain Marvel also pops in on a couple of occasions when required to help out – when she’s not off trying to assists thousands of other planets in the galaxy.

And what takes it above Infinity War – and makes this potentially the greatest pound-for-pound best film ever in the MCU – is the emotional edge that easily provides seven or eight potential ‘lump in throat’ moments that will push the tear ducts of even the most ‘hardy’ of comic-book fans to the limit.

Tony Stark has seventies-set altercation with his father Howard (John Slattery), Steve Rogers crosses paths with his one and only true love Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), and as for the rest . . . that’s well inside true spoiler territory. Deaths? You’ll have to wait and see.

And this sets us up for the finale, which is arguably one of the best final thirty minutes to any blockbuster. Ever. Even up there with the likes of Star Wars and other comparable epic superhero or sci-fi operas of the past several generations.

It is simply not to be missed – and a breathtaking end to three phases of MCU canon that have nearly all delivered.

And we’re talking spine-tingling amazing here. This is far more than just a bog-standard ‘boss fight’ ending.

If you’re nit-picking you could argue ‘casual’ cinema-goers may get a little perplexed with the bloated plot in the middle third if not compliant with Marvel material – and on a personal level ‘true’ Hulk (my favourite Marvel superhero) smashing was a little on the light side.

For 90 per cent of the time though, it’s hard to pick a flaw with what Anthony and Joe Russo achieved here with so much going on, and so for that reason minor problems – which you could deduct a half mark off for – are receiving a free pass here.

But the main two words that will be taken from your Avengers: Endgame experience are: emotion and impact. Because if you’re invested in the characters then it could well hit you more than a Thor-hammer blow, Cap Shield or Hulk smash to the face.

And when the dust settles you’ll be pleased you did. 

Rating: 5/5

Gavin Miller

 

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

Running Time: 3 Hrs1 Min

Directors: Anthony & Joe Russo

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