This is a spoiler-free review of the latest film “Avengers: Endgame.”

The culmination of superheroes, villains, infinity stones, and quips all come to together in Anthony and Joe Russo’s epic saga “Avengers: Endgame.”  Accentuating all the character’s greatest strengths and moral connections, the film graduates into a grand finale that will have fans and comic lovers cheering.  Dissecting an experience such as this, a viewer may feel compelled to draw in their feelings of the films that preceded.  This reviewer finds that tactic to be unfair, with any movie that has its own title, must be able to stand on its own accord.

With that said, the Marvel Studios finale is satisfying and does its fair share of fan service.  Though frustrating in terms of its connecting pieces, there is a feeling of “laziness” in the storyteller’s decision to move the characters forward.  The movie even has a sitcom episode like feel to it, which is reminiscent of a “clip show” – where the viewers get excerpts and highlights from previous episodes of the series (i.e., “Tha Banker” episode of “The Office” or “The One with Joey’s Interview” from “Friends”).  This requires the fans to lean too much into the franchise as a whole, rather than allowing this to stand on its own feet.

Avengers: Endgame” picks up following the events of “Infinity War,” where half of all living things have been wiped out by the evil Thanos (played by Josh Brolin).  The remaining Avengers take one final stand to “avenge” and restore balance to their world.

The technical merits aren’t as polished as its previous outing.  Films like “Thor: Ragnarok” and “Infinity War” had a crisp, glossy feeling of perfection to it while this tends to feel a tad more like “we were in a hurry, so this is the best you’re going to get.”  Alan Silvestri‘s musical cues are another steady output, snagging emotional cues and starting the waterworks for the most devoted fans.  The composer seems to channel a bit of Gustavo Santaolalla at times.

Editors Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt are the real heroes, as they are tasked with putting together a damn near impossible beast of footage and visual effects.  If there’s been one unsung technical aspect of the MCU, it’s surely been in the editing realm.  Trent Opaloch’s camera work is a riveting tool, keeping you at the edge of your seat, scrambling to keep your heart attached to your body.

Charles Wood‘s production design, partnered with Leslie Pope’s set decoration has never been better, enlightening this dark tale of vengeance, while still placing set pieces in a position to become another full-on character.

Keeping the hashtag #DontSpoiltheEndgame at the forefront, from a performance standpoint, Chris Hemsworth, for the second film in a row, delivers the best outing of the large ensemble.  Funny, heartbreaking, and memorable, the actor has just lived in this role and has evolved Thor into something unique and accessible.  Jeremy Renner‘s new haircut-having Hawkeye and Karen Gillan‘s Nebula are really (and finally?) given an opportunity to stretch their acting legs and it’s a joy to see.

There’s plenty to get you excited while plenty more to get ready for.  This is probably the most “set-up” movie ever experienced.  To the point that Disney should have just inserted a castle watermark with a news ticker that states “Subscribe now to continue this on Disney+ for $6.99.”  That can be positive for some, with others likely to take bigger issues.  This critic leans slightly towards the latter.

“Avengers: Endgame” opens in theaters on Thursday, April 25 and is distributed by Marvel Studios.

GRADE: (★★)

What did you think of “Avengers: Endgame?” Let us know in the comments below.