Movie Review: Marvel Studio’s Avengers: Infinity War

This is it, ten years and 18 movies and we’re finally at beginning of a sort of end point for what has been an impressive feat of cinematic world building. Everyone should know the basics of Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos, the bad guy in the shadows in all of the previous films, is gathering the Infinity Stones to wipe out half of existence. It’ll take the fractured Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy to come together an take on Thanos and his hoards.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first two Avengers films. The first was absolutely impressive in bringing so many heroes together from their own films, a first in many ways, and it was fun though thin. The second showed going bigger isn’t always better and expanded the world even greater while sowing the seeds for the next phase. Here, threads going back to the first Iron Man come together and it pays off.

Avengers: Infinity War is impressive. Really impressive. The film balances a lot and does so in a brilliant way. This isn’t one film, it’s really four threaded together in a way. At about 2.5 hours, the film is packed in and plotted in a way that keeps the viewer engaged the entire time and never feels like it’s too much or over the top.

The film begins right after the events of Thor: Ragnarok and does its best to establish the strength of Thanos and his minions, the Black Order. We’ve yet to see these individuals in a fight and directors Anthony and Joe Russo as well as screenplay writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely know they need to create the feeling these villains are bigger than life and an actual hurdle for our heroes. They do that and then some. It also establishes everyone is on the chopping block and can die. No one is safe. Expectations are set within the first fifteen minutes and then the rules are established.

Those rules are also toyed with as numerous characters at numerous times foreshadow their deaths. Normal tropes are used to subvert and toy with the audience expectations. The creative team knew what audiences were expecting in some sense and have clearly decided to play with that. Tropes can be used as weapons to play with expectations and in this case it works and works well.

The second intelligent decision of the creative team is the use of Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, in the film. Gone since Avengers: Age of Ultron, Bruce was last seen in Thor: Ragnarok and he’s unaware of events that have transpired on Earth and with the Avengers. Through Bruce, the creative team informs the audience what has happened. So, those who might not have seen previous films can be caught up. Bruce is the device to catch folks up. It works and works well. It also has some comedic nods here and there due to that.

The film itself is broken up into three main parts. Thor is on a quest for a weapon. Iron Man is on a quest to take on Thanos. Captain America is on a mission to defend Vision and his Infinity Stone in Wakanda. Three plot lines that all feel like they’re given more than enough time.

But those three plot lines also do something interesting. They allow individuals to come together in different pairings instead of bringing everyone together and overwhelming everything. We’re given doses of what we want as too much would be overwhelming.

And that coming together is fantastic. It’s exactly as it should be. When put in a room the bravado and dick measuring would be overwhelming and that’s exactly as we get. A bunch of alpha males in a room together playing off of each other. And beyond that, we also get growth too. They may make smart ass comments to each other but they eventually work together in an organic way, though still keeping the great banter.

The movie also takes us to familiar locations in a “best of” sort of way. New York is attacked. A battle in Wakanda. A trip to Knowhere. It’s all there and then some as new locations expands upon everything we’ve seen before.

The villains though stand out to me. The Marvel films have had good villains, but not great (some exceptions may apply). Here though, it truly feels like a villain and obstacle has been created that is an actual challenge. This isn’t one on one battles, this is five or six on one or four on two. And in each one, the good guys struggle. It really feels like they have to put in a massive effort and things don’t just fall into place.

Thanos and the Black Order look fantastic. The motion capture for Thanos (and really all of them) is impressive to the point Thanos’ eye twitches as he thinks about something. The detail is great and there’s moments I forgot what I was looking at and would have thought it was Josh Brolin in practical make-up. Thanos too is given an amazing motivation and story arc. We get to know him, his philosophy, the why, and at times agree with him. There’s also emotional depth that comes through. This isn’t a villain, this is a fully fleshed out character who has an arc all to himself.

Not everything is perfect. There’s some truly horrible CGI later in the film and Elizabeth Olsen’s accent doesn’t want to stay around all the time. But, each character has their moment with the focus being on Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor. Though there’s a lot of characters no one really feels like they have been left out.

This is a film the audience cheered during and regularly gave a “hell yeah” to as moments just hit the mark. It’s hard not to get excited watching and that’s the biggest downside. While you cheer and laugh (and there’s a lot of laughter, great use of humor) you wind up missing some things which invites repeat viewing.

The film is a masterpiece in many ways pulling something off I never though imaginable and doing it in a way that beyond works. It also circumvents expectations in many ways. It’s clearly the first of two parts, so go in knowing that and you’ll be fine by the time things wrap up. It’s a must go and do so with as little spoilers as possible. Avengers: Infinity War is some of the most fun I’ve had in a theater in a while and will absolutely be breaking records.

Overall Rating: 9.0

 

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