Film watching is a delicate thing.
One minor distraction can mean a lot in terms of one’s ability to enjoy a motion picture unfolding before him, yes I said HIM. I’m old.
Back in April, I was in Hong Kong with my family when Avengers: Endgame hit and we went to see it, nerds and pop culture whores that we are, on opening day itself — a full 15.5 hours before those of you poor saps in the U.S.
So I was with my wife and kids and the Mrs. started groaning and grumbling endlessly at around the one hour mark until at hour two she left and went shopping.
Also, one of my sons is the absolute worst at watching movies in theaters, cares more about Takis and Slushees than the movie he’s watching — EVERY FREAKIN’ TIME — and especially in a Hong Kong Mall theater where all the snack treats were exciting and exotic.
I wish I could say he’s three but he’s a preteen.
Needless to say, I was distracted.
Also, I was spoiled by Infinity War, which I went into expecting a Captain America: Civil War level film.
I still dislike CW immensely after many viewings.
CW takes 1.5 hours and a lot of wheel-spinning before the actual plot starts.
Unacceptable in a film of that budget and scope.
So expecting that sort of pointless bloat or a big so-so like Age of Ultron, or even Whedon’s original Avengers, which I thought was equally “only okay,” I left Infinity War giddy, whistling Alan Silvestri’s Avengers theme and like all the nerds with their Youtube channels, completely unable to wait a year for more.
The Granddaddy of all Vloggers
For me, IW succeeded where a good number of the other Marvel movies failed for three reasons:
- It stayed simple but the stakes were high and clear.
- It hit the ground running and basically never let up.
- It came the closest of all the films to depicting real Marvel-style action. And when I think of Marvel action, I think of a Sal Buscema Power Punch.
This is all I ask for in a Marvel comic film:
Once again, this:
And, of course, this:
And truthfully, while I’ve never quite gotten those moments in full measure, Infinity War was the closest, the most cathartic of the Marvel output.
At any rate, on first viewing, Endgame felt like Back To The Future Part III to me, another one of those crushing disappointments in my movie-going life. In digging up my initial response to the film on FG’s Endgame talkback, here’s what I said:
I thought it was inert. Didn’t have the propulsive, exciting pace as Infinity War and it definitely didn’t have any of the rousing fights. Hulk and Thor were pretty much sidelined and de-balled. Spidey– weaker than ever. (Tom Holland! I’m over him) And I left confused. WTF happened to Gamora? Did I miss something? She questioned Star Lord being her love and then what happened? Why was she missing? Did she turn to dust? And five years went by, right? Why was Pete still in High School? Finally, these two writers, Markus and McFeely with their ridiculous pop culture referencing. Acknowledging that you’re ripping off Back To The Future II does not excuse your idea theft. A true DISAPPOINTMENT.
Well, upon reviewing the film two more times now on “home video” I have to retract a bit.
The film’s issues still gnaw at me a little, but they aren’t as big a deal as I remembered.
Spending time with the characters is what this film is about.
The first time around I wanted a tight plot and big cathartic power punches. I didn’t get them, but I got Rhodey saying, “So…He’s an idiot.”
In short, I enjoy this film.
I thought I was going to hate the comedy bits the second or third time around, but I found myself laughing at fat Thor and brainy, deballed Banner Hulk.
Oddly enough I teared up when Tony dies on a second pass. The first time around I was irritated that it felt shoehorned and random.
I guess with home video viewing one can take in each scene at one’s own pace, and I have to say, on its own terms most of Endgame holds up to repeated viewings.
I Said “Most Of”
Now I don’t know if Spider-Man: Far From Home helped dispel some of the confusion and disappointment I felt initially or if I just understood where the film was going, but it is a big, monumental and memorable film, and both Chris Evans and Robert Downey are great in it, a fact I overlooked the first time.
I did like Karen Gillian’s Nebula the first time I saw it and the second time was no different. I do wish that her character arc was resolved more fully and that she had more of a hand in Thanos’ demise, but given that Robert Downey Jr. is the star, I have to accept that he had to get the glory.
I like all the scenes with Rhodey.
I really like Hawkeye and Black Widow trying to one-up each other on the self-sacrifice angle.
Anyway, I’m not much of a gusher, so I’ll end it there. I like the film and I was wrong. It’s not going to disappear into the bargain bin any time soon. If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a look.
Still, I’m holding out for film that highlights this:
All The Tedium
Now to the Blue Ray features:
Picture and sound are great. I guess.
At this point in big-budget filmmaking and digital media distribution blah blah blah you’d have to drop each DCP in a cauldron of boiling Wiccan piss to get bad picture and sound transfer.
Filmmakers are just that good now!
I could live with a film being shot on Mini DV and distributed on Generic K-Mart brand VHS if it had Hulk smashing and power-punching Thanos across Avengers Headquarters.
Still the best Hulk movie to date
The Special Features on Endgame are the usual EPK filler talking it up about how the Women of Marvel came together for their big ten seconds of screen time in the final battle. Talking heads galore about how Marvel has ALWAYS empowered women.
Tributes to Chris Evans/Cap and Robert Downey Jr./Iron Man. If you have time and patience for this kind of thing, more power to you.
Joe and Anthony Russo offer the usual, painfully obvious Director’s Commentary, giving plenty of “No shit!” insights about the film while you’re watching it. I’m paraphrasing here, but this is one of the juicy production details the fans have been clamoring for:
“Kudos to our FX team for making Robert (Downey Jr.) look so thin. We wanted the audience to think that maybe, just maybe, we were going to kill him in the first scene.”
Deleted Scenes Are Fairly Good
FUN-RUINING MEGA SPOILERS AHEAD!
A forgettable, cuttable scene of Pepper and Tony cooking lunch before Cap, Ant-Man and Black Widow arrive.
Rhodey, ever the voice of reason in the film, has a great little scene where he and Cap are discussing the Tesseract and Rhodey questions why the hell Captain America didn’t simply jump from the plane he was in before he hit the ice in First Avenger.
Cap looks befuddled. I laughed.
In an unfinished scene with roughed-in Rocket graphics, Rocket explains how lame the Chitauri are and scoffs at how long the Avengers took to beat them.
Cap mumbles that they didn’t know that all they had to do was destroy the Mother Ship.
Rocket laughs at him and it ends with Tony using an electric razor and clipping a stripe off of Rocket’s fur. Kind of amusing.
In another unfinished scene Rocket and Thor sneak about the palace some more. Thor takes a leak. They talk about Thor not wanting to relive repressed memories. Ripe for the cutting.
Tony and Howard Stark walk from the bunker. Howard offers Tony a job with him. Tony says he’s tied up in Futures.
Tony’s death is extended where everyone takes a knee and bows before their dead savior. Notable in that it shows Gamora exiting the scene in a glaring, half-finished green screenshot.
I guess this was cut and retooled so Quill would have somewhere to search for her rather than looking on Earth and finding her in an hour or so.
BUT IT SURE WOULD HAVE EXPLAINED A LOT AND HAD ME NOT SO FREAKIN’ CONFUSED AND FEELING UNFULFILLED THE FIRST TIME AROUND.
I still don’t understand the rationale to let the audience think that she turned to dust while Nebula and Quill attend Tony’s funeral and seem nonplussed about her disappearance.
Nebula was standing right next to her!
No reaction shot of, “Where’d she go?!”
I guess I’ll find out the reason for that and much more if I see Guardians of The Galaxy 3. And to Endgame’s credit, I’m still up for it, despite James Gunn’s leadership.
What about you? Still up for more?