“Yes, Avengers: Endgame is the most expansive film yet, and yes, it strives to provide emotional catharses for several of fans’ favorite characters. It’s even safe to say that Endgame shifts the focus from extravagant, effects-driven displays of universe-saving — manifold though they remain — to the more human cost of heroism, which comes at great personal sacrifice.

“That said, readers should also be warned that Avengers: Endgame hinges on the most frustrating of narrative tricks, and that no meaningful analysis of the film can take place without delving into some of the choices made by the Russo brothers and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

“If Infinity War was billed as a must-see event for all moviegoers, whether or not they’d attended a single Marvel movie prior, then Endgame is the ultimate fan-service follow-up, so densely packed with pay-offs to relationships established in the previous films that it all but demands that audiences put in the homework of watching (or re-watching) a dozen earlier movies to appreciate the sense of closure it offers the series’ most popular characters.” — from Peter Debruge‘s Variety review, posted at 3 pm today.