Film Review – Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Well, the time is finally here. After ten years of teases, team-ups, and superheroes punching everything in sight, Marvel Studios has brought all of its heroes together — emphasis on “all” — for a battle for the ages. With a dynamite cast that has some of the best and brightest in Hollywood along with a sense of scope that is unparalleled, Avengers: Infinity War is not only a culmination to a long, winding plan, but an event unlike what we’ve ever seen before on the big screen.
The following review will be spoiler free.
Directed By: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Starring (deep breath): Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Idris Elba, Danai Gurira, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio Del Toro, William Hurt, Letitia Wright
After years of lurking in the shadows, Thanos (Brolin) has finally had enough, and he’s coming after each of the infinity stones in order to bring his own sense of balance to the universe through mass genocide and destruction.
Each of the Avengers become aware of Thanos’ quest for the stones, and they each do what they can from their own corners of the galaxy to stop him. But, as they learn, the task is more than just difficult.
As Iron Man comes nearer to its official 10-year anniversary — man, I feel really old — later this summer, we’ve reached a moment in cinema history that we should not take for granted. With the 19th film their catalogue, Marvel Studios has achieved something that was once only a thought in the mind of a young child as he or she picked up his or her very first comic book.
However calling Infinity War the cinematic equivalent of smashing copious amounts of action figures together is a little much. After all, the Russo brothers and the rest of the people pulling the strings behind the scenes are highly intelligent people, and they’re certainly trying to do more than make a quick buck — even if money is the number one priority for others. cough Bob Iger cough.
In 2018, it’s often the default for some to take down and heavily scrutinize the accomplishments of others, and the MCU has been in the crossfire for exactly those reasons. But, we should all take a step back and appreciate what an amazing feat Infinity War is as a film. Calling it a “blockbuster” somewhat undersells it, and I’m sure someone smarter than I has already coined a new phrase.
Legitimate Stakes Adds a Necessary Layer to Infinity War
The common negatives that individuals throw at the MCU are normally a lack of stakes in some capacity. Whether it be a weak adversary or a less than perilous situation, most wish that the MCU went that extra step and added a little extra “oomph” to their films. Well, Infinity War does exactly that, and it’s to the degree where Twitter might implode underneath the juicy, shocking occurrences in this film. Marvel has massive balls, and they created a film that answers for years of superheroes leaping around without a care in the world against forgettable villains like Malekith and Ronan.
Our heroes are still making quips from time to time, but there’s a clear level of desperation to the entire situation that is different from every Marvel film before it. Alan Silvestri helps to set the mood with an often ominous score to help in that regard. As someone who has been growing tired of superhero films, Avengers: Infinity War is a necessary shot in the arm. It won’t convert anyone who wasn’t on board before, but it clearly has its focus towards those that have grown with these heroes over time.
Thanos is Everything We Could Have Ever Wanted
Ever since he smirked at the camera back in the post-credits scene for The Avengers back in 2012, everyone wondered: could Thanos really live up to the hype? Personally, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.
For once, a film actually utilized a blend of motion capture and makeup effects for its otherworldly villain. It may seem like a minor detail to some, but it allows for the audience to have more of a personal connection with the character through subtle mannerisms and ticks that CGI can’t quite create on its own (yet). In essence, Thanos becomes more of an identifiable human through his ticks and less of a galactic, scrotum-chinned monster.
Avengers: Infinity War spends extended periods with Thanos, diving into his backstory and fears, and it makes for a compelling creature that is the very definition of complex. In his conquest to master everything, it becomes very clear that he has absolutely nothing. The nebulous “they” often say that the top of the mountain is a lonely place, and you feel that with Thanos as he is hellbent on creating some type of purpose for himself. He consistently calls back to balance as the most important concept in the entire universe. He beliefs are so strongly ingrained into his psyche that one can only try to beat them out of him. He’s beyond the point where reason is even an option.
Avengers: Infinity War is Often Very Clumsy
And yet, I struggle calling Avengers: Infinity War a “film.” In reality, it’s more like an event…or an incredibly expensive exercise. A lot of credit is due to the Russo brothers for their work as the directors here as they created an “event” that is probably the best version of what it could have ever been. Still, the “event” has inherent issues that undermine its power and resonance.
With a dizzying amount of heroes comes a dizzying amount of storylines and tones, and many of them struggle to reach a satisfying level of enjoyment. Avengers: Infinity War often pivots not-so-gracefully from moments of pure dread and death to fluffy, silly bits of humor, putting into question exactly what the audience should feel as new heroes leap onto the screen. Characters are often forgotten for many minutes at a time, and it betrays the idea that everything is happening concurrently. It effectively lowers the stakes, and the editing becomes quite choppy.
Characters are forced to create moment after moment of memorable material, and they’re often grasping at straws or resorting to incredibly idiotic decisions that put the literal universe at risk. Even worse, they come into the picture in blatant deus ex machina fashion, hoping to write it off as an applause moment for the crowd. This event is so overstuffed with material that many emotional moments fall flat within the context of this particular movie. For an overwhelming majority of characters in Avengers: Infinity War, you would have had to watch many other films to find a personal connection with them. That fact won’t be a problem for many fans of the MCU, but I struggle to say that it’s okay for one, singular movie.
Filled to the brim with stakes and action, Infinity War is probably the best version of itself that Marvel fans could ever ask for. The film offers a deeply complex villain in Thanos that is easily the most fascinating part of the movie, and he’s probably the best Marvel villain to date.
Avengers: Infinity War often struggles to find its footing as it needlessly juggles multiple storylines and tones. And yet, I find it difficult to call Infinity War a “film.” Rather, it’s a culmination akin to the season finale of a television show, and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. In looking at this “event” from that lens, it is sure entertain — and challenge — Marvel fans everywhere.
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