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Avengers: Endgame

Starring: the entire Marvel family
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Rated M
Runs 3 hours
Now showing

Well, they have saved the best till last. Three hours of action and emotion and after 22 movies this film is a serious contender for the best of the best. Make sure you go to the toilet BEFORE you enter the theatre. You’re not going to want to miss a second. The movie has taken over 1 Billion dollars after a week’s release.

“Endgame” begins with the first of many small, intimate, human family moments, involving one of the Avengers and his family in the moments just before (“Avengers: Infinity War” spoiler alert!) Thanos snapped his evil fingers and made half the inhabitants of the entire universe (including many of our favorite superheroes) disappear in clouds of swirling black ash.

From there we cut to a core group of surviving Avengers, including Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), who don’t look and sound anything like mighty warriors as they despair over their losses and wonder if they have any purpose in this new and devastating world. Eventually we catch up with Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.); Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd); Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Thor/He’s Just Always Thor (Chris Hemsworth), each of whom has traveled a unique journey — one finding a measure of peace in a post-superhero life, another utterly lost but eager to get back in the game, another fueled by an unquenchable thirst for vengeance, and another who has let himself go and spends his days drinking beer and playing video games. (I’ll leave it to you to discover the particulars, which include some heart-touching moments and some of the biggest laughs ever produced in any superhero movie in any universe. It’s Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man, who comes up with a seemingly impossible proposition: Why don’t they expand on Ant-Man’s experience and take it to the next level? Like, go back in time to before Thanos accumulated all six Infinity Stones and festooned them to an Infinity Gauntlet, Stop him from acquiring the Stones, and that way he’ll never have the opportunity to snap his fingers and instantly kill half the populations of all the thousands of planets! Working in teams of two, the Avengers travel to the Asgard and the Morag and the New York City of the recent past, and the New Jersey of about a half-century ago, among other stops. This leads to some double-trouble encounters — Captain America encounters earlier Captain America, Nebula (Karen Gillan) runs into previous Nebula, that sort of thing — and also presents multiple opportunities for various characters to revisit loved ones who exist only in the past.

These superheroes never seem more human than when a son gets to talk to his father in a time period before the son was born, or a man sees the woman he never had the chance to be with, or a son is reunited with his mother on the day she will die.

In those moments, “Avengers: Endgame” is as emotionally affecting as any Marvel movie has ever been. But don’t put away the tissues, because even more, powerful dramatic developments are yet to come. Amidst all the soaring and the blasting and the inevitable gigantic climatic battle, this is a genuinely moving drama involving certain characters we’ve come to know and love through the years. Some of the Avengers are afforded major chunks of screen time; others have a line or two at the most. Yet somehow, all make a lasting impact. In a movie filled with terrific performances, the standouts are Scarlett Johansson, whose Black Widow has changed in so many ways since we first met her; Chris Hemsworth, providing a surprising amount of comedic relief as a very different version of Thor, and most of all Robert Downey Jr., whose Tony Stark has always been the most fascinating, complex, multi-layered, charismatic “civilian” persona of any superhero universe I’ve ever visited. Superhero movies are not favored by the Academy usually for an Oscar. This great film should be recognized for what it is, Brilliant.