Starring in “Avengers: Endgame” are, from left, Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton/Hawkeye, Don Cheadle as James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine, Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Paul Rudd as Scott Lang/Ant-Man and Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow.

Reel Family Time sig

Reel Family Time is an occasional feature where Entertainment Editor Lee Clark Zumpe and his daughter, B.C. Zumpe, share their thoughts on family films.

Warning: Though this review won’t reveal every plot point, there will be minor spoilers. If you haven’t seen the movie, kindly avert your eyes.

We love a good story – particularly a good long story. It’s in our blood and it’s part of our collective culture: Gilgamesh. Mahabharata. The Odyssey. The Iliad. Beowulf. The Song of Roland. Le Morte d’Arthur. The Lord of the Rings.

Webster’s defines an epic as “a long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero.” It can likewise take the form of a work of art that resembles or suggests an epic – anything from prehistoric cave pictographs to exquisite Flemish Renaissance tapestries to … well, comic books. The epic pits extraordinary men and women against gods or superhuman forces.

“Avengers: Endgame,” the latest installment in the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe, provides a rewarding finale to the Infinity Stone saga. More than fulfilling, it’s triumph and tragedy, action and comedy and hope and despair, all woven into a stirring tale of determination, courage and sacrifice. Among the heroes, the ongoing themes of pragmatism vs. idealism continue to cause friction. For the antagonist, the benefits of a universe without want justifies genocide. All this leads to an inevitable clash that is so ambitious in scale that it virtually hurtles off the screen.

The film opens with an emotional punch to the gut as the audience gets a heartbreaking reminder of what was lost in “Avengers: Infinity War.” With half of all life in the universe gone, Thanos – the author of this catastrophe – has disappeared and has taken the Infinity Stones with him. A handful of surviving heroes latch on to a last-ditch effort to recover the Infinity Stones and undo the work of Thanos.

And then the story takes an unexpected turn.

“Avengers: Endgame” is rife with unanticipated plot twists and surprising moments. Characters central to the epic are shown as never before: In defeat, the heroes are bitter, depressed, frustrated, enraged and struggling to cope with the disaster. In the film’s third act, plot developments allow these same characters to interact with the past, setting up several poignant reunions and reconciliations.

Admittedly, there are some miscalculations and oversights that weaken an otherwise solid script. A scene in which Tony Stark admonishes Steve Rogers is completely unnecessary. In this film, the audience doesn’t need to be reminded that Tony’s default setting is pompous egomaniac.

The mechanics of the (here’s one of those spoilers) “time heist” are sketchy. The film doesn’t seem to follow its own time-travel rules, which reminded me of Larry Niven’s “All the Myriad Ways.” It wouldn’t surprise me if the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics plays a role in forthcoming MCU films.

The wrap-up seemed rushed and under-developed (more spoilers ahead). I have a feeling at least one of the Infinity Stones ended up in a Cracker Jack box from the 1940s or a gumball machine in the 1970s. Some have complained that certain characters – Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange, Star-Lord – were shortchanged. This is an Avengers film, though. The focus remains on the six central Avengers characters.

Even with those minor slips, “Avengers: Endgame” truly exceeded all expectations. Taken with the other 21 MCU films, it represents an unparalleled achievement in storytelling. It’s such a stunning accomplishment that it’s unclear how Marvel Studios can move forward. Whatever comes next in the MCU must build from “Avengers: Endgame.” It will be a long time before the studio can hope to outdo itself.

Assistant reviewer B.C. Zumpe, a 12-year-old, shares her thoughts on the film:

“Avengers: Endgame” was very emotional.

Not everyone makes it to the end, so I cried a few times. However, there were also plenty of hopeful scenes as well as comic relief which kept the film from being too dark.

The film opens not long after the events of “Avengers: Infinity War.” With half of all life having vanished, the survivors are shown dealing with the tragedy. I think that one of the film’s most relatable aspects is how the characters are grieving over everyone who died.

There are a number of very memorable scenes in “Avengers: Endgame.” One scene I will remember for a long time is when one character makes a surprising decision and passes on his identity to another character.

I liked the acting and character development. Thor’s character changes in the film after he feels like he failed. Early in the film, the audience learns that Tony Stark has started a family with Pepper. He cares about his family and wants to protect them.

I also liked the soundtrack. When they go back in time, we see Star-Lord looking for the Power Stone. Since this is replaying an old scene, we get to hear “Come and Get Your Love” again. The Avengers theme is also played, along with a lot of action music. I liked that Hulk is depicted differently from past films in the franchise.

I like how “Avengers: Endgame” provides closure for all of the Avengers characters, even though some meet with sad endings. I also like how the ending leaves the audience with a lot of questions.

Jeremy Renner’s performance as Clint Barton really stood out. His character underwent one of the most drastic changes following the events of “Avengers: Infinity War.” I think Renner did a good job portraying Barton’s rage and grief.

My favorite character in “Avengers: Endgame” was Captain Marvel. She had an important role to play and helped bring about a resolution to the main conflict. I also liked that the filmmakers chose to change her physical appearance in the movie to resemble what she looks like in the comic books.

I think that “Avengers: Endgame” has an open ending. Even though they resolved the primary conflict, there are still many related issues that still require attention.

Lee Clark Zumpe is entertainment editor at Tampa Bay Newspapers and an author of short fiction appearing in select anthologies and magazines. B.C. Zumpe, Lee’s 12-year-old daughter, is a middle school student, film buff and aspiring writer and director.