Avengers: Endgame: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #57

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, but it’s been a year since it came out, so I’m pretty sure everyone’s seen it by now!

22 movies. 11 years. One epic final movie. With an all-star cast including Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner, and directed by Anthony and Joe Russo comes the epic blockbuster that is Avengers: Endgame. Set five years later after Infinity War, the universe is still suffering from the fallout from Thanos’ snap and the Avengers have admitted defeat and are dispersed around the universe. There is no hope, but that is until Scott Lang is ejected out of the Quantum Realm. Instead of being stuck there for 5 years, he was only in there for 5 hours. This discovery is enough to spark hope in the Avengers and they go back in time and retrieve the Infinity Stones before Thanos ever got them, so they can reverse the Snap and bring back their fallen foes.

Robert Downey Jr returns to play Iron Man/Tony Stark. Like in all previous movies, Downey Jr proves he really is irreplaceable as Tony Stark. His performance in Endgame was impeccable. I was not expecting Stark to die in Endgame, and his death had me shocked. I think that this film fulfilled his character arc, showing him as a more paternal figure like we had a glimpse of in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Endgame builds on this, in a way that’s more emotionally complex and was demonstrated through the relationship between Tony and his daughter, Morgan, which was so brilliantly orchestrated. It was built up in the course of one movie, and the final ‘I love you 3000’ from Tony’s hologram brought tears to my eyes. Captain America was played brilliantly by Chris Evans. It was so great to see more of Cap in this film, especially as Infinity War didn’t feature enough of him. Evans’s portrayal of Steve Rogers was one of his best, as we saw the completion of his character arc too; not everything that’s special about him came out of a bottle (as he’s worthy of wielding Mjolnir) and he got to spend his life with Peggy. Evans brought a depth and complexity to Captain America which made his last hurrah as the First Avenger even more remarkable and enjoyable. Chris Hemsworth is back as Thor, and I must admit, my opinions on Bro Thor were split. I personally felt it did ruin some of what was created in Thor: Ragnarok, which started a new arc for Thor that I was really loving but on the other hand, the idea of having a Thor who’s been hugely impacted by his failure to kill Thanos in Infinity War and suffering from his failure is something rarely seen in movie sequels. I found the way that Hemsworth immersed himself in this new side of Thor was incredibly well done on his part, and I can’t wait to see what happens with Thor in the future. Scarlett Johansson reprises her role as Black Widow, and in my opinion, this was one of her best performances in the role. Her character had depth and, similarly to Cap, it was great to see more of her in this film. With more of Black Widow in the film, we gained an insight into how she had been affected by Decimation, as she had taken on the role of trying to prevent other catastrophic events from happening, even if it was an earthquake under the ocean. Romanoff takes on a larger role and Johannson’s execution of the role was fantastic. The death of Black Widow was a surprise and I look forward to seeing what happens in her solo film. We also meet Professor Hulk in Endgame, played by Mark Ruffalo. Professor Hulk combined the brains of Bruce Banner with Hulk’s strength, and as cool as it was to see him on screen, I found myself agreeing with Valkyrie, where I would have preferred him either of the other ways. Additionally, I would have liked to have seen more from his character, as it’s something quite interesting to look into, but there may be more of him in the future. One of my favourite characters in Endgame was Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, as it was great to see him in action again after so long. I liked the new Ronin arc for Clint and it’s something that was not only fun to watch on screen but I would like to be explored in the future. Renner’s acting ability was something that shone throughout the film, as he demonstrated his range of emotions perfectly, whether it be his heart torn to pieces over the dusting of family and Natasha sacrificing herself for the Soul Stone, or to the joy of his family coming back to life when he picks up that phone call from Laura. Josh Brolin returns to play Thanos, the villain who’s been building up in the background for the past 10 years. I loved the portrayal of Thanos in Endgame, though I would have liked to have seen more from him. He was the main character who was one of the MCU’s best villains, but I felt that he was somewhat lacking in this film. However, this is understandable seeing as Infinity War focussed on Thanos on acquiring the Infinity Stones to destroy half the universe, whereas Endgame focussed on the Avengers reassembling to undo the damage done.

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Captain America proves himself worthy of wielding Mjolnir

The music in Endgame was absolutely amazing. Alan Silvestri, the composer for The Avengers, Infinity War, and Endgame, was able to intricately compose the soundtrack for the film with beautiful scores that were perfectly suited the movie. One of my favourite scores from the film (and perhaps of all time) has to be ‘Portals’. I remember sitting in awe as Falcon swooped in with Black Panther through a portal, and as more of our dusted heroes appeared through portals to the final showdown, the score ‘Portals’ played, perfectly matched to the jaw-dropping scene.

The story followed neatly on from Infinity War and concluded the Infinity Saga with a satisfying ending that also left the audience excited for the future of the MCU. What will happen with Thor and the Guardians? What will happen now that Falcon is Captain America? Who will be the next big villain in the MCU? You’ve also got to hand it to Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who wrote the screenplay for the film. It had the comic book feel which, combined with the acting and music, created a spectacular movie as a whole.

Before I come on to my favourite scenes, there were admittedly parts that I didn’t like, some of it being general stuff and others being nitpicking. Firstly, Nebula maybe could’ve told the Avengers that going to Vormir meant that someone had to die for the Soul Stone. She also could’ve traveled back to the present time after failing to alert Nat and Clint of Thanos knowing their plan. Another thing that kind of annoyed me was how Scott escaped from the Quantum Realm. I understand it’s the 1 in 14 million realities that the Avengers win, but the chances of a rat tapping on the correct buttons to pull him out was crazy. Given that it’s Pym Tech suggests that the machinery behind the Quantum Realm is complicated, but not basic enough to the point that a rat can just walk on across the pad and let Scott out. There’s also a fine line between the perfect amount of comedy and too much, and for me, Endgame tiptoed over it. Some jokes were brilliant, like America’s ass, but in other places, the humour was forced in unnecessarily such as with Professor Hulk dabbing or War Machine saying that Thor has “Cheez Whiz” running through his veins during one of the film’s most intense scenes. Another problem for me was the sheer amount of characters being shoe-horned into the film. While some characters got the screentime they deserved, such as Iron Man and Captain America, I felt some other characters didn’t get enough, such as Professor Hulk. I also think the time travel itself was a little confusing to understand. It made sense later on in the film, but it wasn’t clear at first how the time travel worked.  

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Tony prepares to snap away Thanos and his army while sacrificing himself in the process.

Now onto my favourite scenes. It was a small moment, but the opening of Hawkeye losing his family was the perfect start. It not only allowed us to reconnect with one of our heroes but also picked up exactly where we left off; in the middle of Thanos’ snap. The next best moment for me was the team-up against Thanos in his retirement Garden. The early twist of Thor beheading Thanos was unexpected and left me wondering where the film would go from there. My favourite part of the “updating the audience where everyone was 5 years later” section was definitely seeing where Stark was. We’ve seen Tony evolve through these films from a cocky playboy into a more caring, paternalistic character. Endgame introduces us to Tony’s daughter, Morgan, and for the short time they spent together on screen, a sweet and loving relationship is shown that is one of the highlights of the film.  The montage of the surviving Avengers tracking down the Stones locations in the past was another favourite scene of mine, as it wrapped the timeline of the Stones and the MCU up in a way that has you reflecting on the past 10 years on movies. It’s all built up and comes together to this; the epic conclusion. The whole time travel sequence was such great fun to watch as it built on what I mentioned previously about reflecting on the past 10 years. We are taken back to 3 Marvel movies that the Stones have all been a part of and you can’t but brim with enjoyment as this all plays out. I remember sitting in the cinema just blown away by how far we’ve come and where we are now.  The highlights of this sequence were the battle of New York with Cap vs Cap, and traveling back to the ’70s to get the Tesseract, with Steve seeing Peggy and Tony finally giving his father a proper farewell. To me, these scenes were either just really awesome to watch or served a strong purpose. For Steve, I think him seeing Peggy again reminds him of a life he could have had, and this silent interaction is why he chose to stay back in time with her. For Tony, he’s always had that tension with his father, but now that he’s had that final moment of saying goodbye, we can goodbye to Tony because his character arc is complete.

One of the best scenes in the whole movie was Cap wielding Mjolnir. The dramatic reveal was amazing, with the tension that had built up with the high stakes of the moment and the epic swelling music in the background. The fact that Cap was worthy was teased back in Age of Ultron in 2015, and the payoff was awesome, especially with Cap using Mjolnir and his shield together. The whole end battle for me was perfect. From the portals and Falcon swooping in with the iconic “on your left” line to Spider-Man taking the Infinity Gauntlet from Black Panther and riding on a Pegasus with Valkyrie, ending with Stark’s final words, “I am Iron Man”, there was nothing I would change about this entire sequence. I was on the edge of my seat in awe throughout the whole of this sequence. This had been 10 years in making and it’s payoff made it worth every second.

Avengers: Endgame gets an 8.6/10 from me. The fantastic screenplay combined with great acting made it the perfect ending to 10 years of cinematic build-up. Upon rewatching (and re-rewatching), I’m still amazed at how this was pulled off, and it’s no surprise that Endgame is the highest-grossing movie of all time. Marvel have completely changed both the superhero genre and cinema itself in the past decade, and I can’t wait to see what happens to the MCU in the future.

Thanks for reading this review. I’m undecided on what to review next, but it’ll either be The Mandalorian, my favourite sitcom, or a classic movie. I hope you are all well in these difficult times and I’ll see you in a couple weeks.

Jojo Rabbit: Ryan’s Movie Reviews #56

Hello and welcome to Ryan’s Movie Reviews! As a heads up, this review will contain some adult themes and spoilers for Jojo Rabbit. I highly recommend this film as it certainly surprised me (in a good way) and may be one of my favourite films of all time.

Directed by and starring  Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok and Hunt for the Wilderpeople), and also starring Roman Griffith Davis, Thomasin McKenzie and Scarlett Johannson, Jojo Rabbit takes place in World War 2 and follows Jojo Betzler, a young Nazi living with his mother. Jojo discovers that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl in the walls and turns to his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler, for advice.

Roman Griffith Davis played Jojo Beltzer and gave a brilliant performance. For a 12-year-old actor just starting off his career, he was able to display a wide range of emotions that allowed us to connect with Jojo’s character. The lead in most movies is usually able to do connect with audiences, but what’s remarkable about this in Jojo Rabbit is that this is all from a young actor. Griffith Davis has been nominated for a number of awards (including the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice) and after watching the film, it’s obvious to see why. Thomasin McKenzie played Elsa, a Jewish teenager who Jojo’s mother is hiding in the walls. McKenzie was perfectly selected to play Elsa and, for a young actress, delivered a strong and compelling representation of the Jewish experience in hiding in Nazi Germany. Taika Waititi took on the task of playing Adolf Hitler, or more accurately, Jojo’s image of Hitler. It’s important to remember that the film is from the perspective of a brainwashed 10-year-old Nazi, and Hitler in Jojo’s mind is someone he admires (Hitler is Jojo’s imaginary best friend after all).  Waititi wrote, directed and starred in Jojo Rabbit and took on the tough role of playing Hitler and for me, his portrayal was fantastic. He was witty and played the character in a different and memorable way. Jojo’s mother, Rosie Beltzer, was played by Scarlett Johansson. For me, Johannson wasn’t the most obvious choice to play Rosie but she was surprisingly well suited to the role. I would’ve liked to have seen more of her, but for the time she was on-screen, there was a strong and sweet relationship built up between Rosie and Jojo, despite the relationship build-up being a little rushed in my eyes. The dramatic reveal of Jojo coming across his mother’s hanging body by bumping into her shoes was so perfectly and subtlety built up and it’s all down to Waititi’s direction throughout the film. The build-up to this moment is sneakily intertwined with the film, first showing Jojo being unable to tie his shoes and the close-up shots of Rosie’s shoes, then Rosie talking to Jojo about butterflies in the stomach. This emotional climax of the film was unexpected, perfectly orchestrated and brought tears to my eyes in the cinema. It’s also worth mentioning one of the side characters who helped to make the film better; Captain Klenzendorf. Sam Rockwell played Captain K, and I loved the zaniness of his character, as well as his redemption at the end of the film. Together, the character chemistry was brought to life on screen wonderfully, particularly with the development of relationships throughout the film. One notable character relationship development that I thought was worth mentioning is the friendship between Jojo and Adolf. It starts off strong but as the film goes on, the relationship deteriorates to the point where Jojo tells Hitler to “f**k off” and kicks him out a window, showing that Jojo has no relationship with him or the Nazis anymore. Again, this is from the perspective of a brainwashed 10-year-old and the way the whole film plays out because of this is something we rarely get to see and was fantastically  done.

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Jojo and Adolf question Rosie’s loyalty to the Third Reich.

The music composed by Michael Giacchino was well constructed as it allowed us to not only connect with the characters’ emotions but also with the time period that the film is set in. I quite liked the German renditions of pop songs, even though there were only two of them. Nonetheless, the final scene of Elsa and Jojo dancing in the streets upon hearing the war is over to the German rendition of ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie will go down in my mind as one of the most powerful and iconic movie endings of all time. My only complaint is that I found the music was sometimes used unnecessarily to accompany a scene.

The story is actually an adapted screenplay, based on the book ‘Caging Skies’ by Christine Leunens. It was brought to life with a hint of Waititi’s quirky filmmaking style which gave us an interesting story told in a whimsical way that made for a surprisingly enjoyable cinematic experience. It was a little fast-paced in some places, but this pacing was better suited to the film rather than a slower pace. A question some of you may be wondering is whether Jojo Rabbit deserved to win Best Adapted Picture at the Oscars, and even if it should have been nominated for Best Picture itself. If I haven’t made it obvious enough, yes to both those questions. When people look back at 2019 as a year in film, there will be so many legendary films mentioned. Joker, Parasite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Avengers: Endgame to name a few. Now add Jojo Rabbit to that list. It had humour and heart and was able to turn one of history’s darkest times into a deep film about love, family and defeating the hatred of the world.

Overall, Jojo Rabbit gets an 8.5/10 from me. It came out as a surprisingly fantastic film, brought to life by an amazing cast and crew and teaching us all an important lesson throughout; no matter what happens, just keep going. No feeling is final. It’s one of those films that’s a hidden gem and I can’t wait to see what Taika Waititi goes on to do next.

Thanks for your patience in waiting for this review to come out. Now that I’ve had time to settle in my new life both at work and working from home what with the corona-crisis, I’ve been able to adapt to a new schedule. I hope that you are all keeping well during these difficult and challenging times.

Further to the above, I’m currently working my way through reviewing the movie event of last year. I’m of course talking about Avengers: Endgame and aim to have the review out on April 25th (though that does seem a little ambitious). Anyways, I’ll have a review for Avengers: Endgame out soon, so I’ll see you then!