Fine! Here’s My #AvengersEndgame Review

Everyone else is posting their reviews everywhere they can, so I’m going to go ahead and repost the one I wrote for my Letterboxd account. I also can be heard on a show chatting about it in a little more detail, but unlike this review it’s unrestrictedly spoiler-filled. You may want to stick with this first.

Avengers Endgame poster for Avengers Endgame which is an Avengers movie called Avengers Endgame featuring the Avengers in Avengers Endgame.
Why’s Thor the only Avenger with his eyes open who’s looking to the right? What are the other people missing? Okoye looks downright bummed about it.

The Official kesseljunkie Review of #AvengersEndgame That You Always Wanted

Please note: This is spoiler-free, but it does address some structural things that someone might not care to read before seeing the movie.

There’s a lot to like in Avengers: Endgame. There are some terrific character moments blended with epic action. Each character who’s been with the franchise since the beginning is given a story beat to emphasize them.

If you’re a fan of long-standing, it makes sure to thank you as explicitly as possible by including as much as it can to let you know they paid attention to what you liked. They even go out of their way to have a wink and a nod to the things you didn’t.

The cynical way to put this is that we all knew that it was going to be Fan Service: The Movie. It’s how it was essentially billed.

Unfortunately, it has couple of strikes against it. It uses a significant cheat in the storytelling that undercuts some of the terrific development it has at other points. It “starts” multiple times, which gets a touch tedious in the first thirty minutes.

Could these issues have have been avoided? That’s a fair question. It may simply be that something on this scale can’t escape them. You just have to live with what can’t be overcome.

The Russos are masters of getting a large cast to work well, and iron out the flow once the plot gets going. And they do that here, for the most part. This is a terribly complex movie with a lot of external demands, so these flaws seem somewhat inescapable.

Some of the effects are terrific…and some of the effects are bafflingly inadequate. I seem to be on a shrinking island of caring about that, though. And to be clear, it’s not that I’m critiquing anything that pushes an envelope. When you push an envelope, I’m willing to go along with the challenges inherent in innovation. I’m talking about things that were surmountable with a little more finesse.

The largest flaw that can’t escape criticism is the final battle scene. For all the terrific moments it has – including one that got applause from me in the theater – there is a muddiness to the action that makes it clear that those moments are all that is important. I would’ve liked to see it flow much more organically, instead of using the same cheat that Infinity War did, which is that every person is exactly where they need to be at any given moment.

I could go on about other things that didn’t work so well, but they speak again to that idea of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. It’s fine, and I can look the other way on some things. They might not work terribly well, but they’re only pieces of a very large puzzle.

But the ending is satisfying, and the Russos are careful to have the necessary denoument to let fans feel emotionally complete. These aren’t movies anymore, so much as coordinated events.

On that mark, this is a great success.

Coda

Again, this review is a bit restricted for the sake of avoiding spoiler talk. There are some very specific things about the movie that would explain why my “final rating” might even seem a bit lower than that review implies. But I’m trying to keep it as vague as possible at this point. I don’t want to spoil something the way some people did for Game of Thrones fans.

I’m happy to expand these thoughts, if you want, or if you have any questions that you want to leave in the comments section.

The Only #AvengersEndgame Review You’ll Ever Need

This week will be awash with “Explainer Videos,” podcasts, think pieces, reaction blogs, and hot takes to celebrate the release of #AvengersEndgame. Cutting through this virtual crop of digital reaction will consume more time than the movie’s actual, three-hour run time.

You will be surrounded by qualifiers like “for me,” Statements of Epic Import like “over a bajillion movies and umpteen years,” and “I’ve been there since the beginning.” These qualifying statements will let you know that each piece is to be taken with an implied thoughtful gravity.

We all didn’t just watch a movie, we were part of an experience.

Some people will argue finer points. Each critic will offer a token flaw to prove they’re not blinded by the hype. They can tell you Iron Man’s waist size, and recount the emotional import of Movie A that impacted Movie B to be paid off in Movie C, but they’re not clouded by minutiae.

I promise you something more. Follow along with me.

Avengers Endgame #Avengers #AvengersEndgame #Endgame #AvengersEndgame is an #Avengers movie with the #Avengers in #AvengersEndgame.
“Watch what you say.”

The Only #AvengersEndgame Review You’ll Ever Need

For this part, I want you to walk to the mirror. Look in it.

While looking into your own eyes, give voice to what you thought of #AvengersEndgame. Say it loudly, and say it proudly.

There you go. That’s the only #AvengersEndgame review you’ll ever need.

Have fun discussing it. Get carried away dissecting it. Allow the monumental achievement of watching 22 movies in 11 years give you pause.

Each person’s reaction is their own. It’s not anyone’s responsibility to defend the movie against those for whom it resonated less. It’s not anyone’s mandate to hack on the movie to prove their point with those who liked it more.

I’m not saying anything that anyone doesn’t know. I think I wanted to write it out because sometimes I wonder. As a veteran of the Star Wars Prequel Slap Fights, and various other movie reaction debacles over time, it seems like we’re poised for problems with every event movie that’s released.

Even after seeing #AvengersEndgame, I’m avoiding discussions of it. I’ll participate in a few. One will be recorded. There are a few friends where I’ll talk it over, one-to-one. I just don’t see anything good coming out of online participation anymore.

I just don’t ever see it going “well” anymore in the larger conversations. Every review becomes a personal battlefield. If it’s in disagreement with yours, it’s important to attack or defend as the case may be.

It becomes a battle of comparisons, where the temerity of someone who dis/liked [a Movie] to try to [praise/defend] this movie is a high crime worthy of rhetorical scorn. It’s also a joy as people say that “anyone who dis/likes X is a dope…but don’t take that personally.”

Better to let it settle, remember opinions on movies are subjective, and keep the conversations small. I can promise you a more in-depth review on Letterboxd later. After the dust settles, we’ll see what everyone thinks of it there.

I still wish I didn’t have to give a star rating. But that’s the world in which we’re livin’, amirite?

We’ll see how it goes.

On the Matter of Spoilers

Not a long one today.

As I prepare to see Disney®©™’s Marvel®™©’s #AvengersEndgame for the first time, I’m struck by the seemingly difficult task of staying “spoiler free.” I’ve discussed that matter with a number of friends, as I’m sure everyone else has.

To be clear, I’m somewhat “militant” about my desire to be “spoiler free.” I don’t even want to know what someone thinks of an event movie before I go to see it. It’s why I’ve even removed the Letterboxd app from my phone temporarily; I can’t prevent the feed from showing me star ratings from the occasional friend for these event movies.

I want my experience to be my own.

Giving up social media for Lent prepared me, fortunately, for missing all the talk there, too. My friends know how I want to be for these things.

And yet, I’ve still been challenged to stay spoiler free. Someone at work read something on line and started recounting it, to share with everyone what was spoiled for them. A friend blurted out a question about “do you remember [not spoiling it for you by naming the movie here]?” So now I know something from that has something to do with this. I don’t know what, but I will be waiting through the whole movie for the thing that reminds me of it.

It doesn’t even serve any purpose to share that information. Even if I don’t remember it, if the movie is done well…it doesn’t matter. I should be able to enjoy it even if I didn’t see [not spoiling it for you by naming the movie here]. All that’s happened is that I’ve noodled through something that I’m pretty sure I’m right about, and the movie has to work harder to  keep me distracted from “waiting” for that thing to be a thing.

Avengers Endgame is spoiled meat with Avengers Endgame.
Spoiled meat is still meat. But I’m not looking forward to it as much.

But Why Do You Care, kesseljunkie?

I think a lot of it has to do with “peer pressure” affecting reviews. I know that everyone likes to think themselves immune to it, but one has only to look at the tidal wave of opinion on popular movies to wonder how much we are. The vociferous response to the admittedly-underwhelming Batman v Superman: Dawn of as Many Words as Marketing Can Fit in Here fed on itself, to the point where DC movie fans were able to wear a victim shield online.

I think the thunderous applause for Thor Ragnarok was also something where momentum carried the day; I’ve even spoken with friends who raved about it at first, only to see them “come down” on their second viewing. (For the record, I like Thor Ragnarok just fine. I just didn’t get the fervor behind a lot of the positive reactions. I also got dragged for not being effusively positive about it.)

And that’s fine! But it’s why I don’t even want to know if people liked/loved an event movie until I’ve seen it. Because if you find yourself standing athwart that tsunami of opinion, you can spend more time during the movie wondering why you don’t love/hate it, as you do watching the film.

To emphasize again, I think this is unique to event movies. Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t fill me with the urge to silence people. I didn’t mind being one of the souls who loved Bad Times at the El Royale. I have a Ph.D. in GFY thanks to years of getting hammered for loving the Star Wars prequels.

Event movies are crafted like culinary experiences. They’re best enjoyed with a clean palate and readiness for the experience.

I just wish everyone falls all over themselves to be the first ones to tell you what they think, or what they heard. Let everyone have a shot at the clean experience.

I’m Already Tired of #AvengersEndgame

I’m sure that headline is going to get as much attention as it can, given that I don’t put much effort into pimping this blog. It’s not as evocative and troubling as Naked Yoda, and not as potentially problem-causing as the republishing of my letterboxd review of Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Despite my self-imposed absence on social media right now, there’s still something that’s made it through the veil of silence. Advertising and hype for Avengers: Endgame. Or, as seems mandatory to type it now, #AvengersEndgame.

That spins me off in a different tangent, but I’ll save that for another time. I’m still trying to maintain my streak and make it to 30 unbroken days of blogging, and I have to squirrel away as many topics as I can.

Don’t Worry, I Still Want to See #AvengersEndgame

Let’s be perfectly clear here. I am looking forward to seeing it, but largely because I think I’m ready to close the Marvel®™© franchise chapter of my life.

I am a fan of Marvel®™© movies. I’ve seen the majority of them in theaters. I have seen all but three of them, even Iron Man 2, which…was Iron Man 2. I’m a fan of certain movies more than others, and downright dislike a few, but I’ve been a casual fan.

I know I am openly critical of the way people approach their “reviews” of Marvel®™© movies. It’s with good reason: people who are fans of the franchise view the movies through distorted lenses. Their perceptions are colored by each entry’s place in the larger narrative. Excuses are made.

Being off social media for the time being, I’m largely unaware of how hard the push is for #AvengersEndgame. I know that it was quieter than expected because of various speculated reasons, as they gamed their SEO strategies to funnel all the curious questions into site traffic.

Yet I’m tired of all the hype already. It’s partly residual burnout from the run up to Avengers: Infinity War. But this marketing behemoth is so unstoppable, it reached me during my social media sabbatical. I saw each poster, got links about when tickets were going on sale, got updates until I didn’t want any more.

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark who is Iron Man in Iron Man 3 where Tony Stark is talking about Iron Man in Iron Man 3.
“To be fair, most of my dialogue is simply a bunch of one-liners like an Arnold Schwarzenegger role.”

The End of a Marathon

What complicates it all is that I’ve been with the Marvel®™© machine as long as everyone else. I got hyped for early releases. As boring as it is to recite now, I still think Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a magnificent work with important things to say.

I also think that the intended audience doesn’t care half as much about what the movies have to say as the simple segment of the larger arc they represent. That’s one thing that really jumped out about Black Panther; it had something interesting to say.

To its credit, Avengers: Infinity War also had something interesting to say, but everyone was so caught up in sharing their emotional turmoil from the end of the movie that it seems lost by the wayside. That’s not the movie’s fault, though, so no points deducted there.

#AvengersEndgame is known to be the closing chapter to an enormously well-managed larger story arc. Each piece has been hand-crafted with the sole purpose of coming together like a big puzzle. This is the final piece in that puzzle.

This is the reward for sticking with it. Then new movies will come along. But for at least one set of these characters, this is the end of a long, long race.

It’s the end of a marathon for those of us who’ve watched since the beginning.

man running at marathon event
“Loser has to buy everyone’s tickets!” Photo by Lukasz Dziegel on Pexels.com

The Sun Also Sets

It’s just that I’m ready to stop caring. Whatever happens will happen, and this “era” in Marvel®™© movies will end. The next “phase” will begin and I’ve given over so much attention and money that I’m coming to realize how much other quality film gets lost in the wayside.

I’m legitimately curious to see how things play out in #AvengersEndgame. I want to see them work their way out of the corner, and if my guesses – or anyone’s – are right about what the solution is.

Then, once I’ve seen it, I’ll gladly ride off into the sunset as a fan. I’m sure I’ll catch the ones that intrigue me more than others, whether in the theater or on home video.

There’s been some real entertainment along the way. But as far as hype machines, advanced ticket sales, and other things…I’m out.

brown and green grass field during sunset
Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

P.S. This is not an invitation to try to have me transfer excitement to the DC movie universe. That’s not how this works.