Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Avengers: Endgame is neither CGI heaven or CGI hell. It's CGI purgatory.
More than three hours in length, Avengers: Endgame is more for cultists than cineastes. Fanboys will cheer - and, since this is 2019, so will Fangirls. The rest of us, maybe not so much.
2019 is the year of the cult. We see cults of personality - politically, socially, and in the new "reality." Cults depend on familiarity, redundancy, and heaps of hype. Avengers: Endgame fits right in.
The Russos - director Anthony and Joe - know their audience. They also know how to check the "politically correct" boxes. A phalanx of women lead a charge, Captain America has a major role reversal, and Peter Parker hugs an Asian schoolmate. Check, check, check.
I admit that I like my superheroes more badass than soft, but the Russos prefer a softer vision. They often rely on sentimentality rather than true sentiment. That's too bad, because when they actually employ true emotion it is moving. One of the best scenes in the film is a stirring, crucial scene between Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Natasha (Scarlett Johansson). It shows that the Russos can create emotion; it's just not a priority for them.
I prefer a full alphabet, but the Russos and their writers - Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely - need only three letters - C, G, and I.
When they're at their best, as in the first half of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), they create deft, lively dialogue. But it disappeared in the second half, and it doesn't reappear In Avengers: Endgame.
I'm a fan of Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper). I guess I identify with him. His brash cynicism had wit and style early in Avengers: Infinity War. C'mon guys, Give him some piquant dialogue. He's worth it. He's not just another pretty face.
The Russos don't seem to know or care how to sustain emotion. Forget language. They count on string music to pump up feelings of loss, regret, love, hope, and nostalgia. It's not enough.
Avengers: Endgame is graced by a stellar cast. Jeremy Renner returns after an injury in a previous film that kept him out of Avengers: Infinity War. He's a welcome actor. Chris Hemsworth enthusiastically takes on a challenge as Thor, who has become dissolute. John Slattery is effective as a pivotal character. Scarlett Johansson, Brie Larson, Chadwick Boseman, et al. contribute substantial performances despite the limits of the dialogue.
Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) says, "Part of the journey is the end." But the Russos and their writers don't seem to listen to Iron Man.
When the action ends, the conclusion that follows is drawn-out and bland.
Also, Avengers: Endgame would be a better, sharper picture if the first hour had been trimmed. The back story is mostly back-sliding.
The imposing length of Avengers: Endgame is a test I hardly passed.
I admit that even if they'd had Scarlett Johansson in the nude in the post-credits, I'd probably have left. But I wouldn't have missed much. They'd have had her in CGI.