Avengers: Endgame; Long Shot
I may make fun of the Marvel Universe at times, given that they seem to be taking over the world—or at least the multiplexes—and plan on doing so for at least the next five years (if one is to rely on their slate of upcoming films). However that should not detract from the fact that Avengers: Endgame is an entertaining, exciting, and occasionally moving wrap-up to a series of films that began with 2008’s Ironman (the film that also resuscitated Robert Downey Jr.’s film career).
Avengers: Endgame seeks to undo the damage done by the formidable Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Infinity War, and takes place (for the most part) five years after the events of the previous film.
In case you were wondering how these remaining and now-disparate Avengers plan to do this—well, you’ll have to see the movie. But if you’re thinking to yourself, what is the laziest way to accomplish this (in terms of cinematic imagination), you’ll probably be right. Not to worry though, because there are several complications along the way, some inspired, some not-so—and a host of characters (and actors) from previous films) who also take part in the Avengers’ machinations.
What is satisfying about this “final” installment, directed by Anthony and Joseph Russo from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, is not so much the action sequences. As with previous Avenger epics, they tend to drag on a bit. It’s also not the plot itself, as it is somewhat protracted and could do with a little trimming. However, the heart of the film lies in the interactions among the characters, which abound with humor, tension, and a little heart. Some actors/characters a bit underused (like Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel), while Paul Rudd’s glib but courageous Antman takes on a major role. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is also given a bit more to do and he rises to the occasion, while Ironman and Captain America (Chris Evans) continue alternately exhorting and exhausting each other. Mark Ruffalo’s Banner is also noteworthy as he has come to embrace the Hulk, and the sisters from Guardians of the Galaxy(Zoe Saldana and Karen Gillian) play out their rivalry. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor also impresses—even in his debauched state (you’ll see). Finally, the ending sequence (post-end-of-world-battle) is a fitting and poignant conclusion; I’ll give no spoilers here but there are a few welcome surprises.
On the other end of the spectrum, Charlize Theron deserves the Oscar for Long Shot for not only convincing us that Seth Rogen has a shot at wooing and winning her, but making us believe that Rogen is the right man for her. Don’t get me wrong—Long Shot is an engaging romantic comedy, a worthy (if at times gratuitously raunchy) attempt at revitalizing the genre. It’s just that a little of Rogen goes a long way, and here he is playing “himself’ as a newly out-of-work reporter: uncouth, principled, idealistic almost a man-child—with fitting wardrobe to boot. So when he fortuitously meets former crush, now current Secretary of State Charlize Theron, one can see what he sees in her. The wonder of the movie is that Theron, with comic timing, grace and intelligence makes one understand how difficult it is for a woman in what was formerly a man’s domain (politics), even as she convinces the viewer that the boorish Rogen is her man. The two do have undeniable chemistry, and at times, Rogen actually acts like someone recognizably human. There is also some good supporting work, notably from June Diane Raphael and O Shea Jackson Jr, as well as Bob Odenkirk as the President of the United States who wants to leave the gig for a more fulfilling career in the movies. The movie does enter the realm of wish-fulfillment fantasy by the end, but until then, Long Shot manages to deliver.