Endgame

end1Last night I finally got around to giving my 4K disc of Avengers Endgame a spin. Regular readers will remember my mixed feelings/downright disappointment with the film when I first saw it during its cinema release. The film proved to be a major success with most people though, and seemed to attract a huge repeat crowd and became the biggest box-office film of all time (inflation notwithstanding, I suppose). Can’t say I’d really seen that coming.

The numbers are frankly astonishing- the film cost over $350 million to make but earned $2.8 billion at the Box Office.

Watching it again though, and so soon after seeing Rise of Skywalker, the differences between the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes are boldly apparent. Avengers Endgame is everything that Disney and Lucasfilm felt that Rise of Skywalker should be, a huge climactic cinematic event that seized (for better or worse) the cultural zeitgeist and became the biggest movie of all time. Rise seems to have actually arrived with a frustrated whimper, awkward and uneven, hampered by being part of a dysfunctional trio, dividing its core fanbase or reinforcing present divisions, whereas Endgame seemed to have pleased most everybody in the core fanbase as well as the mainstream.

I still have my issues with Endgame. It seems unnecessarily convoluted, getting lost in myriad time travel paradoxes and finally succumbing to all the worst excesses of CGI bombast spectacle that I personally find boring. But on the whole it works, and serves as a summation of all the Marvel films before it, closing out the arcs of some fan-favourite characters/actors at the same time as handing off to a new generation. If it takes itself too seriously, well you can almost forgive it that considering its, what, the 22nd film in that franchise? Imagine a film being the 22nd in the Star Wars franchise- only a matter of time I suppose.

But watching it this second time I began to realise that perhaps it gets right more than it gets wrong. Or maybe compared to Rise, maybe its successes become all the more impressive. Then again, compared to Rise, most everything any Marvel film does appears pretty impressive. I don’t think Disney should go the Marvel route with Star Wars, although it does appear to be heading in that direction with some of the staff changes going on behind the scenes, but it is clear that the Marvel films have a fairly clear control on the mythology of all those decades of comics. Some of it is counter-intuitive and contradictory, and I don’t think they ever really nailed its most popular character (Spider-Man) in any of its screen incarnations, so its certainly not a successful slam-dunk. I shudder at some of the stuff in Marvel films just as I do watching Star Wars, but the good/bad ratio seems to fall for the better.

 

(Almost) a Rise of Skywalker review

If the stars align and the Dark Gods allow it, on Wednesday evening, I believe I shall be entering a cinema complex where I am not known, in a town I haven’t visited in several years, and I shall be watching Rise of Skywalker under the cover of darkness, and a future post perhaps this very week (if I recover from what I’m sure will be a nerve-shredding experience) I shall be posting: ‘(Actually) a Rise of Skywalker review’.

On the other hand, it may well have to wait until the weekend. I mean, if I love the film, I may well be having to eat some very humble pie. It’d be a bit like me watching the latest episode of Dr Who and deciding I was wrong all along and its hard-edged social commentary and excitingly riveting script  (not to mention its exemplary acting and fiendishly ingenious use of Sonic Screwdrivers) have swayed me to its righteous cause. But you know, open minds and all that.

Mind, I appreciate I’m a bit behind the curve at this point. The film has been out nearly three weeks now. In this crazy busy world of social media and internet hysterics the film is quite possibly such Old News at this point, that its hardly worth me writing about. Its gone, its done, and everyone’s looking for the Next Thing already (its actually coming out in a few days, and its the World War One drama 1917).

But it does make one think. There are people out there who literally only watched Rise of Skywalker so that they could rush home and post a video about it. There are people who only watch television shows (or, God help me, movie trailers) so that they can stream their Reaction Videos to it. What kind of crazy bloody world is it that people watch people watching movie trailers?

I like to think I watch films and TV shows because its something I like to do, because I enjoy the art form and watching something creative gives me pleasure (as well as suspiciously high blood pressure sometimes -hello there Jacobs Ladder remake- but hey, its a risk I’m prepared to take for the betterment of those lucky sods who haven’t seen it). I suspect many of those posting all those Youtube videos are making money out of it. Maybe a lot of money, good luck to them. There’s no money in these blogs, that’s for sure.

So anyway, its just that it got me thinking- go back to 1982 and no internet, and magazines like Starburst and Fantastic Films and Starlog. Imagine if something like Rise of Skywalker was released in those times, when reviews were written for magazines and usually printed around the time of, or just after, a films release, by professional journalists who put their name to the review and had it in print for posterity. Gentler, slower times without a ravenous fan-base screaming from the internet mountain tops. Films tended to stick around in the public consciousness longer, or maybe I’m just imagining that, as time seemed to pass by much slower when I was a young teenage geek waiting for The Empire Strikes Back to come out. And waiting to read John Brosnan’s review.

I’ve just got a mental image of me going to work on Thursday and revealing that I’ve seen Rise of Skywalker and one of my colleagues making a grunting noise and saying “what? That old thing?” and me suddenly realising I’m still way behind the curve of the pop-culture zeitgeist. Not so much a case of me and a few others discussing the film over the water-cooler or the copier machine, but rather me trying to find someone who still remembers it.