Review – A MARVELous Ending (“Avengers: Endgame”)

In all my years I’ve never seen this kind of buzz or excitement for a movie. But, after watching (and enjoying) every Marvel movie for over 20 years, I really shouldn’t be that amazed.

*SPOILERS AHEAD!*
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It’s the sequel to last year’s mega-blockbuster event, Avengers: Infinity Wars and, in case you were hiding in a cave somewhere, intergalactic baddie Thanos (James Brolin in mo-cap) won the day and snapped his fingers, effectively wiping out half the universe, just like he said he would. Damn! How many movies have the bad guy WIN? That meant our beloved heroes like Spider-Man, Black Panther, Peter Quill, Groot, and Dr. Strange, all turned to dust, but Nick Fury managed to send off a distress call, via a souped-up 1980’s pager, to Capt. Marvel before he floated away. Meanwhile Thanos, his Infinity Gauntlet all burnt-up, is relaxing on a peaceful planet, and doesn’t know what’s going on.

In outer space, Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) have managed to fly away from the decimated planet, Titan, but can’t make it home. Back at the Avengers HQ, Black Widow/Natasha (Scarlett Johanssen) and Steve Rogers/Capt. America (Chris Evans) try and piece together what can be done, while coming to grips the loss of their many compatriots and friends. Sad emoji. But if you caught the post end-credits scene from Avengers: Infinity Wars, you know that Carol Danvers/Capt. Marvel (Brie Larson) is there to save the day. After a rescue in space, Tony is back home on Earth and a plan is made to after the Mad Titan, wherever he is, get that Infinity Gauntlet, and reverse the horrible tragedy. Sounds like a great plan, right? Well. . . .

Led by cosmic Capt. Marvel, the Avengers assemble (what’s left of them, anyway) and off they go to kill Thanos on his lush, garden planet. Thanos, not having the best day, is finally smacked-down by the good-guys, but (oh no!!) he has the last laugh as the big purple guy went and destroyed all the stones! Aw, nuts!! Now what? No stones, no snap! No snap, no bringing back the dusted! All is lost. The Avengers return home and disassemble for parts unknown. Sad emoji again. Get used to this, it happens a lot.

Fast-forward five years and we see Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) get unceremoniously spat-out of his van and the mini quantum-accelerator where he was stuck. Dazed & confused by the topsy-turvy world around him, he seeks the advice of his pals over at Avengers HQ. Boy, is he in for a surprise! But Scott offers Natasha and Steve a hope and chance with his shrinking tech: using the advanced Pym Particles and the quantum-accelerator to make a time machine! With Tony back on board and Professor Hulk (you’ll see what I mean) helping out, a crazy, impossible plan is hatched. Steal all six Infinity Stones somewhere in the past, bring them back into their present, make a new gauntlet, and snap! Put what was wrong right again!

Needless to say, dividing up in teams and time-jumping all over the place trying to grab some hot rocks isn’t going to be as easy-peasy as it sounds. There are messy encounters, bad decisions, some very funny moments, heart-breaking scenes, and a nail-biting, stand-up-and cheer battle that is every bit as good as you might expect from a movie that delivers on every level. The acting is above par and ratcheted-up for this finale of finales, the culmination of over 20 years of Marvel superhero entertainment. Yes, it’s just over three hours long, but it’s worth every minute as the story unfolds in layers and multi-stories that aren’t rushed, but deliciously savored and directed by the Russo brothers (Anthony & Joe), who have given so many people countless hours of unbridled happiness.

Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, the master screenwriters who have also penned so many other MARVELous movies, have ended a two decade run with this third ‘phase’, and now it’s on to the next phase; the new batch of super’s & villains. This is the love letter to all fanboys and lovers of the genre; an epic story of friendship, teamwork, and doing what’s right in the face of personal danger. There are callbacks galore enough to make you smile and applaud, Stan Lee’s final cameo, faces of characters you haven’t seen in awhile, and enough whiz-bang SPFX to make you giddy all over.

The plot does employ the standard ‘time-travel’ device, but takes it a step further. There’s no ‘butterfly effect’ (i.e. the present isn’t effected by changes made in the past like in Back To The Future) In fact, this movie skips around that using the ‘multiple timeline theory’, saying that each timeline in the past has its own history and doesn’t effect our present. Huh? It really messes with your head, so don’t even think about that as you’re watching the movie or you’ll go crazy. I think there’s a YouTube video that explains it.      

Mystery Men (1999)

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Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes, as we’ve seen with the entire MCU & DCU franchises. But what if the superhero’s weren’t all that fantastic? What if the superhero’s were just a bunch of guys hangin’ out at a sleazy diner and only thought they were superheros? That’s the wacky premise for a terrific movie based on a series of Flaming Carrot Comics.

The best friends with “powers” are Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), who gets really, really mad, the Blue Raja (Hank Anzaria), who throws cutlery with remarkable accuracy, and the Shoveler (William H. Macy), who wields a mean shovel. They’re always looking to make a name for themselves in Champion City as crime fighters, but alas, they keep getting usurped by the one and only TRUE superhero in town, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear).

But egotistical Amazing is bored with the local riff-raff he arrests and longs for real danger, i.e., Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), his arch-nemesis! So, he arranges Frankenstein’s release just so he can have some fun, but Captain Amazing gets hopelessly captured instead. Looks like the other superhero guys decide to rescue him, but not without back-up. They arrange try-outs (a hilarious montage) and come up with more partners: the Spleen (Paul Reubens), who has deadly flatulence, the Invisible Boy (Kel Mitchell), who can vanish–but only if you don’t look at him, and the Bowler (Janeane Garafalo), who throws a supernatural bowling ball.

However, their efforts to rescue Captain Amazing epically fail, as they end up killing him instead! Oopsie! Now Casanova aims to take over the city unless the wanna-be heroes can stop him. United by a mysterious cloaked figure called the Sphinx (Wes Studi), who spouts silly Yoda-like advice, and a goofy inventor (Tom Waits) who only makes crazy non-lethal weapons, the gang goes after Frankenstein and his all his wacky minions.

This is one terrific and highly underrated film written by Neil Cuthbert and Bob Burden, based on his comic books. A mystery itself, the movie was directed by Kinka Usher (who never directed before or since), but it’s widely rumored that this movie was actually directed by Tim Burton and that he used ‘Kinka Usher’ as an alias. The action is set up just like a dark Marvel superhero film, but it has brilliant comedic undertones of Stiller, Anzaria, Garafalo, and Macy, all playing it straight as can be. And to see Rush playing a foppish super-villain with a weird accent is too just much!

Look for a handful of surprise appearances in this movie as well: English comedian Eddie Izzard as Frankenstein’s henchman, Tony P., director/producer Michael Bay as the leader of the Frat Boys gang, master card magician Ricky Jay as Captain Amazing’s publicist, singer Cee Lo Green as a Not-So-Goodie gang member, comic Dane Cook as the Waffler, and composer/musician Mark Mothersbaugh as (what else?) a bandleader.

*Editors Note – And that’s my Uncle James Duke as Big Tobacco!