Monday, 27 April 2020

Avengers: Infinity War (2018) / Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Two film reviews in one? Say it ain't so. But it is. As we celebrate the one and two year anniversaries of these films, Quarantine Watch Party is hosting screenings of them with the directors and writers participating which is so cool.

It is worth noting that the MCU is the first of its kind. The narrative threads in previous films are continued, but these films are made with the expectation that you have seen the previous films. If not, you may still enjoy it, but you will be missing things. I just have the applaud the filmmakers and the writers for the massive juggling act. The two duos had to serve as the conclusion to 20+ films, and those films had different tones and styles. The fact that they are as cohesive as they are is a miracle.

The two films are about the power to change the universe and the sacrifice needed to make it happen. This applies to both the heroes as well as the villains. The six infinity stones are sources of undefinable power that our characters have encountered. The reason why they have been showing up recently is because Thanos, the mad titan is hunting for them. He plans to gain all six, installing them in his infinity gauntlet and snapping his fingers to eliminate half of all life to stop overpopulation, a fate that occurred in his homeworld. He sees that while what it does is evil, it is also an act of mercy to those that will die, and salvation for those left behind.

Thanos has been teased since The Avengers(2012) as the ultimate villain, and that he is. A smart choice from the filmmakers was to make him the main character in Infinity War. The films understand that he is a monster, but his motivations are clear, and the emotional journey he goes on is some of the best dramatic writing Marvel has ever done. Endgame puts the focus on the original Avengers, along with other allies, which was a perfect move as Endgame is a definitive ending to an era of the MCU.

The films have stakes and weight to it. Infinity War begins with half of the Asgardians dead, Heimdall stabbed, and Loki choked to death. Endgame begins with Hawkeye enjoying a peaceful day with his family, and they are suddenly killed by Thanos. Because of the groundwork laid out by the previous films, we feel the losses with the characters. The weight of it sets a tone that lets the audiences know that anything can happen. The usual superhero film formula was thrown out the window.

Robert Downey Jr and Josh Brolin are the MVPs of these films. This was a tough one for me. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, and Zoe Saldana were close, but Robert and Josh edged out for me.

Tony Stark's journey from Age of Ultron to Endgame has been incredible to see. He, as well as Thanos, have been cursed with knowledge. We see his desire to prepare the earth from its destruction, the relationships affected due to his obsessions, and how his failures nearly break him. Robert Downey Jr has always been perfect as Tony, but he ends his tenure as the character with a bang, delivering his best work after 11 years.

Brolin's calm, considered reading of the character provides this monster with an unexpectedly emotional level, making him much more than a thick stick figure of a supervillain. Brolin plays both the Warlord Thanos and the Savior Thanos. The two have enough distinction between them, but his presence nevertheless is intimidating.

The humor is perfectly balanced with the drama. This is significant as other Marvel films fail to do so. The majority, especially Age of Ultron overload on the humor that there is no breathing room for anything else. There are moments of doubt, regret, and uncertainty, fear, along with the desire of some of the characters to move on. Rather than a mention of it, we see it and the effect that has. We also see the growth of the characters. Hulk and Thor, in particular, have the most notable changes, physically and mentally.

The battle sequences are the best that Marvel has ever done. The Battle on Titan, Wakanda, Guardians vs Avengers, and the final Battle of Earth are visually eye-popping. Repeat viewings, and I am still discovering new things. The 'war' is delivered. It fills up the frame.

There are so many ways to call these films perfect, but I'll leave it here. Yes, I recognize that I am biased. I grew up with these films. So what? Given the amount of money they raked in, a majority of you probably agree with me.

Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame are cinematic masterpieces that miraculously concludes an 11-year saga, and will satisfy long time fans by giving them everything they want and more.


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