Too long? Nah, could’ve used another hour-I mean, that’s how long I spent googling the Zodiac afterwards anyways. It’s that sort of mystery–complex, endless, with countless players and procedures to dissect, and the film with its excellent technique, turns, and script (the time jumps feel natural; the third-act lens shift to Graysmith works well; Avery’s arc feels like it’s cut short though) captures it all with a remarkable sense of cohesion (a couple loose threads along the way) and momentum.
From the devastating opening scene to the goosebump-inducing climactic action sequence, the scope and spectacle here will blow you away. Rich with humour (Thor and Ant-Man are highlights but even stoic Cap hass his moments), emotion, and inside references, it brings the MCU to a remarkable climax and resolve. After the blockbuster-high wears off some issues emerge (the main plot concept is severely underexplained; some characters are–understandably–neglected), but it remains a monumental film.
Thanos’ villain still felt a little familiar with his twisted “for the greater good” motive, but he remained an intimidating presence-a good match for the huge cast of heroes which is balanced remarkably well throughout and contributes to plenty of amazing moments both of comedy (see Thor meeting the Guardians) and action (see the Titan attack; Thor’s arrival in Wakanda). With all the superpowers going around some snags in the plot arise but its massive stakes and solid execution overwhelm them.
A well-executed mix of goofy teen comedy (see the hilarious school news reports), wild superhero action, and authentic coming-of-age drama (see the breakdown beneath the rubble). It’s the most down-to-earth MCU film yet thanks to its blue-collar, nuanced villain (see his slight post-credits redemption) and the continued interplay (dramatic but also humourous: see Cap’s instructional videos) between the mature but distant Avengers and our eager but juvenile hero (“I’m nothing without the suit!”).
Occasionally slips into lackluster-ly standard low-brow humour (dancing aside, Grossman is a bit much, and so was Kirk and Tugg’s convo about Simple Jack), but the satirical meta-movie framework that pervades the film offers loads of laughs, from the uproarious opening trailers, news clips, and initial action sequence (the first act was definitely the best) to the ongoing naivety of Stiller’s action star and stubbornness of RDJ’s method actor as contrasted with Baruchel’s earnest Kevin.
It’s a little hard to keep up with Holmes’ fast-track mind that takes us through the mystery, but the journey is nothing short of breathtaking–thrilling action sequences (see the wild train ride) matched only by RDJ and Law’s brilliant banter are bolstered by a wonderful score (see the fiddle-backed bar fight) and slick cinematography (see the stop-go slow-motion in the forest run)–and a well-crafted climax (Harris is a solid adversary) capably fills us in while still amping up the tension.
Great action? Sure. But the civil war premise behind half of it is terribly constructed. The initial point of tension was decent but certainly didn’t warrant an all-out brawl (the banter in the airport showdown just proved how dumb it was) and it developed into a misunderstanding that could’ve been resolved just with a good conversation instead of a near to-the-death fight (you were friends, right?). Like, the bad guy just said he wanted you to fight each other. Truly a stupid superhero movie.
Another healthy dose of enormous and entertaining action make this a fun film to watch in spite of its mostly lazy writing (see Wanda and Pietro’s weak antagonist motivations–and Ultron’s, for that matter–and correspondingly cheap turn; the half-baked Hawkeye development; the far-fetched and only vaguely explained bad guy antics), with the aid of one well-timed bit of self-awareness: “The city’s flying, we’re fighting an army of robots, and I have a bow and arrow. None of this makes sense.”
Here we see our hero at his most anxious and out of control (see his panic attacks, bedside suit scare) but also his most focused and angry (see his workshop insomnia, challenge to the Mandarin); at his most technologically dazzling and powerful (see his army of suits in a great final action scene), but also back to his most humble creative roots (“I’m The Mechanic”). This strong climactic characterization, coupled with a brilliant turn (x2) by Kingsley makes for the best film in the MCU so far.
After a scattered first act, the film picks up as the Avengers gather; clashing egos (along with the welcome addition of Ruffalo’s mellow Banner) and growing feelings of distrust keep the dream-team motif grounded (though the Thor-Iron Man fight with Loki watching was dumb) while a jaw-dropping final action sequence (deftly managing to give each hero their shining moments) brings it to its apex of feel-good entertainment. A tantalizing epilogue and perfect after-credits scene end things well.