Saturday, May 11, 2019

Movie Reviews: Avengers:Endgame

Avengers: Endgame
directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
I finally got around to seeing this movie. As a bookend to the Avengers saga, which is one of the most popular storylines within the Marvel Cinematic Universe I thought it was workmanlike. The film was was three hours long, which stretched my endurance as well as some of the story the filmmakers were telling. 

I thought that the social narrative, allegories, and real life analogies, which to be fair have always been woven into Marvel comics, were too strong and too obvious for my taste. Some of it was pandering. I guess if I were among the audience which was being pandered to I might feel differently. More on that in a moment. 

You may recall (and this is of course a spoiler for the prior Avengers film) that by the end of the last Avengers movie, the omnicidal Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) looking like he's related to the similarly heavy jawed Issa Rae, had won. Thanos had collected all of the Infinity Stones, dealt with betrayals, setbacks and sacrifices and finally obliterated half of (sentient? all?) life in the universe with a snap of his fingers, All across the universe, 50% of people vanished. Thanos did this because he was convinced that overpopulation and the resulting waste, war, climate change, and diminishing biodiversity was the greatest threat to peace and life. 

My biggest problem with Thanos' POV is that it was hard to argue that he's 100% wrong. In many aspects Thanos was correct. He was the hero. Humans are indeed destroying the environment and other forms of life on the planet

This is directly related to the numbers of humans on the planet, which have increased exponentially in the Third World over the past five decades.  We may have passed the point of having too many people on the planet: Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.

A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.

Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. 
With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”

At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in.

Endgame handwaves Thanos' point away by having him be the bad guy, served by a number of ugly vicious creatures who live only to kill. This could have been a more thoughtful movie, though then it wouldn't have been a Marvel film, if one or more of the heroes/heroines had  considered Thanos' ideas and then, reluctantly or not, joined his side. But it's not that kind of film.

Endgame opens with Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) rescuing Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). They reunite with the surviving Avengers and track down Thanos.  Thanos isn't trying to be ruler of the universe or anything like that. Thanos is just trying to tend his garden. He barely puts up a fight when the Avengers track him down. Thanos does take pleasure in telling them that his deeds can't be undone. He recently destroyed the Infinity Stones. All sales are final. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) decapitates Thanos. And that's that. The team breaks up and goes their own ways. Five years pass.

A depressed Captain America (Chris Evans) goes to group sessions to hug/talk his feelings out. Captain Marvel, who manages in every scene to be overpowered, patronizing, smug, and condescending all at once, disappears. 

Thor gets depressed, gets a drinking problem and puts on weight. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), who has managed to combine both sides of his personality and control his temper, goes Hollywood. Iron Man wants to stick close to his wife Pepper Potts (Gywnneth Paltrow) and young daughter. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) deals with the loss of his family by murdering various bad guys across the world. Only Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) tries to keep the Avengers flame burning.  

So it's The Black Widow and Captain America who are present when Ant-Man (Paul Rudd), thought to be killed by Thanos, reappears at the Avengers compound. Ant-Man was in the quantum realm. From his pov only five minutes passed, not five years. The Avengers' brain power thinks they've found a solution.

Battles and loss and love affairs and more battles and threats and more battles and impossibilities and more battles ensue. The Captain America storyline was touching. Almost everything else-eh well I think maybe I've just finally aged out of the target audience.

The social messages became more overt in this film. Just as it is rather silly to have European descended actors/actresses playing Egyptian or West African heroes/gods it can also be dumb to have Afro-Panamanians playing Norse characters. One scene in particular pandered shamelessly to women. But that's show business. This was an okay movie if you are into that sort of thing but it's probably something I should have skipped and waited for the release on Netflix/DVD/VOD. Of course you're not me, are you. I enjoyed Chris Hemworth's comic turn.
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