“Avengers: Endgame” is an emotional finale

TMN film critique gives “Avengers: Endgame” four and a half out of five tacos.

“Avengers: Endgame” is an impressive cinematic achievement, resonating both with die-hard Marvel fans and casual viewers. The $1.2 billion raked in worldwide on opening weekend was well deserved.

After the catastrophic events of last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War” (which I enjoyed but felt physically beaten up after watching), the remaining Avengers — including Iron Man, Captain America and fan favorite Captain Marvel — embark on a mission to vanquish purple Thanos once and for all.

I probably shouldn’t say anything more. As with “Infinity War,” spoilers will result in my ritual sacrifice. “Don’t spoil the Endgame,” the trailers say. Well, alright then.

While I’m forbidden from describing the specifics of what I adored in “Endgame” — there are many powerful, unexpected moments — what surprised me most was the film’s magisterial weight and deeply affecting emotional core.

After 22 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the OG Avengers (Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and Thor in particular) have developed into fully formed, fleshed-out characters. While still providing quips and pop culture references, “Endgame” presents them in their most vulnerable states yet — not shying away from depicting sadness and tragedy, or their courageousness in the face of global annihilation.

“Endgame” has much to say about the importance of family and loyalty, both in regards to the characters themselves and their bonds with Marvel fans developed over the past decade.

The film rewards viewers who’ve kept up with the franchise, particularly with Iron Man and Captain America, succeeding both as popcorn entertainment and as a loving ode to the characters that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the first place.

Indeed, while much of the film is unabashedly fan service, Joe and Anthony Russo mine nearly every scene for maximum emotional impact. My theater was cheering and sobbing in equal measure, indirectly bonding over our shared appreciation and love for the characters on screen.

Even I, with a somewhat lukewarm opinion of Marvel films, became wrapped up in the nostalgia and suspense. By the end credits of “Endgame,” tears were sliding down my pale, sleep-deprived face.

This is surprising, considering the film’s unwieldy three-hour runtime. Unlike “Infinity War,” which pummeled me with sometimes incoherent action, “Endgame” is a master class in pacing.

The film has an unexpectedly subdued first hour that perfectly sets the stage for the superhero carnage later on. When the action comes, it holds more impact than any other Marvel movie, providing expected thrills with wallops of dread and real, tangible risks for the characters. Thanos is perhaps even more intimidating in “Endgame” than he was in “Infinity War,” continuing to be a worthy, nuanced antagonist.

“Endgame,” as did last year’s “Black Panther,” feels like its own beast, containing a level of polish that sets it apart from other superhero films. There are numerous picturesque shots I’d like to frame and put on my wall, and the melancholic soundtrack perfectly complements the film’s overall somber tone.

Alas, there are numerous plot holes, embarrassing jokes and technical mumbo jumbo that doesn’t make sense, but who really cares when the emotions run so high?

Readers have probably seen “Endgame” by this point, but now you should watch it again. Good luck with finals week.