Avengers: Endgame, which marks the epic culmination of 22 Marvel films over 11 years, is finally here.
Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and Brie Larson among others star in the superhero blockbuster.
Here is what Press Association’s film critic Damon Smith thought of the latest blockbuster ahead of its release on April 25.
What did our reviewer think?
Death is seldom a final farewell in the hallowed realms inhabited by spandex-clad superheroes.
Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Thor have all regenerated on the pages of well-thumbed and tear-stained comics.
Consequently, gobs should not be smacked if the 22nd film in the Marvel Comics cinematic universe chooses to resurrect some of the brave souls who were reduced to ashes at the thrilling conclusion of Avengers: Infinity War, when hulking villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) exterminated half of all living organisms with a snap of his digitally-rendered fingers.
“Part of the journey is the end,” philosophises one figure in Avengers: Endgame, sombrely reflecting on everything they have lost.
Screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely confidently surf the ripple effect of Thanos’ radical approach to population control, cresting a wave of feverish anticipation that has been gathering momentum over the past 12 months.
The script’s reach occasionally exceeds its grasp and there’s a disappointing inevitability to some of the whirring cogs and gears of a slickly engineered plot that leans heavily on familiar science fiction paradoxes.
However, when planets align and pure emotion wells in the actors’ eyes, there’s no denying the primal power of pivotal scenes of self-sacrifice and redemption that will elicit saltwater downpours in darkened theatres across the land.
As one hero observes, “Everybody wants a happy ending but it doesn’t always work that way.”
It’s a full-blooded odyssey of redemption that bristles with bold ambition and the studio’s trademark irreverent humour, like when Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) calmly accepts one preposterous course of action because her reality has shifted on its axis.
“I get emails from a raccoon so nothing sounds crazy any more,” she deadpans.
Thanos has devastated the overpopulated third rock from the sun, sounding a death knell for billions.
Before his demise, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) issued a distress call to Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) and she arrives on a decimated earth to mourn her fallen mentor.
Her formidable abilities may tip the balance of power back in favour of grief-stricken and bewildered survivors including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Ant Man (Paul Rudd) and Nebula (Karen Gillan).
However, hope and despair are star-crossed lovers, inextricably bound together. Where one ventures, the other must follow.
Avengers: Endgame is muscular, well-crafted blockbuster that nods reverentially to the past 11 years of Marvel Comics mayhem.
With one Infinity Gloved-hand, directors Anthony and Joe Russo pander to fans with splashy special effects-laden action sequences and heartfelt exchanges, and with the other three, they tug sharply at narrative threads that were supposedly tied up neatly in earlier films.
Mythologies unravel and hundreds of special effects artists flex their muscles to deliver a bombastic feast for the senses.
This is the end. For now.