Friday 24 May 2019

Movie of the week: Avengers: Endgame

4 stars

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in 'Avengers: Endgame'
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in 'Avengers: Endgame'

Hilary A White

Popular culture's rubber-necking fascination with the end of the world shows no sign of abating. This 22nd instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes just as Game of Thrones is about to unleash armies of zombies, and Brexit threatens to up-end the European project.

Timing always was Marvel Studios's thing, but this last chapter of the Avengers films and all their side stories (Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, et al) have all inexorably led us to this point.

With this weight of expectation, you wouldn't envy co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo. Infinity War, which the team also helmed, currently sits at #4 in the all-time highest grossing films, and similar business is expected - probably demanded - here.

There isn't much we can give away - but as we've come to expect, if you aren't up to date with the brand you'll be lost. If, however, you're the type of grown adult who takes spandex-clad superheroes extremely seriously, consider this a spoiler alert.

With Thanos having wiped out half of all life in line with his Malthusian theory of the world, Earth is a dump and what's left of the team is regrouping. A chance encounter with Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) could provide a way to undo the calamity - but Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are having trouble getting Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man) on board.

Marvel fanatics will be in seventh heaven, such is the barrage of action, humour, visual spectacle and explosions.

While it weighs in at a chunky three hours long, the film has in fairness much to do and legions of characters to squeeze in. Some of the smarmy humour falls flat on its face, while other parts are surprisingly dark.

All the same, you couldn't deny its sheer value for money.

Cert: 12A; Now showing

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