Reviews: Avengers Infinity War
All Flash, No Bang (No spoilers)
It can't be said that Marvel didn't try really freaking hard on this one; the cast was brilliant, the CGI effects were on point, the score was amazing, continuity was great, and the cinematography was exceptional. Except, it seems that, in all the excitement, Marvel forgot to tell a story. The problems begin with the fact that Infinity War starts with the assumption that you've seen all the Marvel movies up to this point, and are deeply ingrained in the lore already. This is an issue because it means scenes that are ostensibly supposed to have depth and weight are robbed of it due to lack of context. A second problem arises with the sheer size of the cast. Four Lines, All Waiting is in full effect here, which clashes with previous Marvel comics films' focus on their title characters (and maybe one or two other people). Individuals who were previously deep, well thought-out characters are now reduced to little more than bit parts, with maybe fifteen minutes of screentime each. Related to the above is the sheer scope of what the film's MacGuffin, the Infinity Stones, are supposed to be able to do. Five of these six stones were each individually powerful enough to drive the plot of a whole movie (apiece, and at minimum; see also Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Dr. Strange, and Captain America). Individually, getting one of them into the hands of a villain has been enough to create a climax of action; in the first and second Avengers movies, this demanded a team-up of all the heroes who had shown up so far to thwart said Big Bad. Even in promotional material, it's guaranteed Thanos gets two; the stones have to be seriously nerfed before there's room for a believable/relevant plot. Which brings up the issue of Thanos himself. In the wider comic-verse, the mad titan's had a lot of build-up and characterization, but in just this film, there's relatively little to him. Attempts are made at giving him a credible backstory and making him somewhat sympathetic, but given that his primary character trait is Omnicidal Maniac (or, in the movie's case, half-omnicidal), this effort was doomed to failure before it started. Through the use of his Mooks, sets the bar high, but he himself crosses into "absurdly overpowered" territory... emphasis on "absurdly". By the end of the film, we're at a point where actually beating him would require downplaying his built-up strength considerably... and letting him win would be a Foregone Conclusion. Either ending comes off as entirely cheap and results in a happy/sad ending seemingly for the sake of a happy/sad ending. That being said, there is, indeed, a part 2 to this story. If you haven't seen the film already, I would recommend holding out just a bit longer and waiting for part 2, so you can see the complete story pulled together. In the meantime, it would be best to just pass on Infinity War.
Better Than the Other Two (cf the Definition of Faint Praise)
My Elderly Uncle: So what`s this Marvel movie about?
Me: A big purple man wants to kill half the universe with a magic glove.
My Elderly Uncle: I see. So why is it two and a half hours long?
Me: I guess there is a lot of nuance, political commentary and subtle drama to work through?Alas, I`ve not been able to convince my elderly uncle to watch Avengers: Infinity War, which dumps a decade`s worth of Marvel superheroes into a mixer and shakes them together. The result is less of a long island ice tea and more of a teenager`s shit-mix. Like a shit mix, it has lots of individual ingredients you know you like. If you have a favourite hero, they are guaranteed to make an appearance, if only for four minutes of shared screen time. If you like creative visuals, you`ll find lots of them here, my favourites being the sight of a Dyson Sphere locked around a dead star, and a particularly imaginative torture scene that looks like something out of a Damien Hurst exhibit. I also like that the show manages to avoid resorting to constant punch ups, which must be hard when that is 90% of what superheroes do with their time. Unfortunately a shit mix also includes a lot of bad things that gets thrown in for the sake of it. In this case, all the dumb, boring and badly conceived superheroes who take up screen real estate (I've yet to meet someone who actually cares for Scarlet Witch). Then there are a couple of plot points that get hand waved only to be recycled later on, particularly the pertinent observation "why don't we just smash the bloody stones that give the bad guy superpowers?" Next, for all the incredible special effects brought in for the movie, there are countless occasions were I was distracted by the hilariously unconvincing stuff (especially in the case of Mark Ruffalo, his comically tiny head sticking out of a Hulk Buster suit). Also worthy of mention is Peter Dinklage`s cameo, which is funny up until you realise what we are actually being asked to laugh at. Then it feels something better suited to a 90s Mike Myers movie. Finally, the movie demands the audience to have meticulously watched every other Marvel film ever, otherwise they are going to be bemused by the parade of weirdos who appear onscreen. People praise the movie's ending, which I won`t spoil here. It is admittedly a bold and novel direction for an Avengers movie to go in, but I wish it didn`t take two and a half hours of slightly messy, slightly uninvolved story to get there. I got free tickets for this, which I`d say is the right price. I`d be reluctant to advise people to put down actual money for it.
The Greatest Comic Book Film I have Ever Watched
In all honesty, I think the title of this review pretty much speaks for itself. I've watched dozens of superhero movies over the years, from both DC and Marvel, and I can confidently say now that this was the first film which actually looked, sounded, and felt like a comic book movie to me, not just an action movie featuring people with supernatural powers and colorful costumes. It actually felt like I was witnessing a comic book crisis crossover unfold on the big screen right before my eyes. I went into this movie with high expectations, almost all of which were met. Story: Let's be honest, Marvel Studios was never going to give us a perfect page to film translation of the Infinity War and Infinity Gauntlet story lines from the comics. There are just too many characters involved who either have yet to be introduced into the MCU (Adam Warlock) or are inaccessible for legal reasons (X-Men and Fantastic Four). That being said, this film still features the largest ensemble cast for any superhero film I have ever seen. Credit should be given to Marvel Studios for finding a way to weave so many different characters and story lines into a single, (mostly) coherent narrative. In the hands of a less competent studio (Fox, Sony, Warner Bros., etc.) this film could have easily collapsed under its own weight. Thanos is one of the best villains in the MCU, if not the best. He always steals the show, regardless of whether he is fighting his enemies or engaging in conversation with other characters. It felt like he was the villain protagonist and the Avengers were the heroic antagonists opposing his genocidal plans. Visual Effects: More than anything else in the film, my jaw dropped the first time I laid eyes on the main antagonist, Thanos. It boggles my mind how well the VFX team designed him. Never have I seen a CGI villain who looked so life-like. The way the hair on his arms moved individually, the age spots, blemishes, and veins on his skin, and the subtle expressions on his face at every moment made him appear awesome. If only the rest of his crew was given the same level of visual complexity. The final battles in Wakanda and Titan were so overstuffed with action and environmental detail that I have no idea how the studio intends to one up themselves in the sequel. Music: Compared to other Hollywood franchises, the MCU always felt like it was lacking in the musical department. That is no longer the case for this movie. Infinity war and Black Panther might be the only MCU films that compel me to download their theatrical scores, as they were really that good. In conclusion, I unabashedly loved this film and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone else interested in superhero fiction.
Big Setup for a Big Payoff
Dozens of movies in the making, Infinity War has been on the minds of Marvel since the day Tony Stark put on his power armor, and the pay off here is quite satisfying. Stellar fights, great interactions, and a world so expertly crafted and intertwined, even though there are a LOT of players on the field, it's easy to follow along on their fast-paced stories. The sheer scale and ambition of this film is almost inhumanly grand, but the film still brings it all together for a supremely fun experience. As to be expected, Marvel's special effects are absolute eye candy, with larger-than-life superpowers, locales and creatures on full display, never looking out of place even in the beautifully captured streets of New York. The heroes and their excellently written and generously humorous interactions are still as surreal as ever, especially with the Guardians now thrown into the mix, but top billing goes to Thanos the villain, who completely steals the show. Josh Brolin brought something truly special to the table with his performance, and the film could not have operated so well without Thanos placed at its helm. It definitely felt as though this was Thanos's movie, with all the past Marvel events leading to his epic, universe-spanning adventure. One thing to note is that in order to truly enjoy Infinity War to its maximum potential, it is mandatory to have watched almost all the previous Marvel films. Very key details and relationships will only make sense if you have watched the previous movies, otherwise you will likely be lost at a lot of important points. The motivations of certain characters may not make a lot of sense without the necessary context, especially Thanos himself. Still, Infinity War is the new height of the Marvel cinematic experience - it's a joy for all senses. If you're a fan of Marvel, you will not be disappointed. If you are just starting out however, you may want to do a little research and get caught up on the Marvel Universe, but once you are, your diligence will be rewarded with one of the best Marvel films crafted to date.
Marvel *still* has something new for us. (Non-spoiler review)
First, I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend watching all the MCU films including Black Panther before watching this film. This is, naturally, the biggest team-up film in the history of cinema, and most of the heroes get little to no character development. All their character development happened already in their own standalone films. That being said, this is Thanos's film. This film revolves around the villain and he gets plenty of character development. He is surprisingly logical and understandable, not just a big purple "i'm gonna kill everything cuz i'm evil" dude. For what screen time the heroes get, they are all in-character and interaction/plot events happen in an understandable and fairly organic manner. It's a wild ride from start to finish, and the build-up is intense. I don't feel like there's any wasted screen time, and for a 2.5 hour film that's saying a lot. The pacing is excellent, although it cuts between tons of locations. The action is happening simultaneously with two dozen characters spread across the galaxy, what do you expect? So yes, it can be pretty confusing to people who haven't watched the previous films. As for the bad parts... a joke here or there might fall flat, but for the most part it stays on-pace and it has plenty of hard-hitting moments. Some of the action scenes are a little dark and the camera whips around too much, making for some blurry and confusing action, but the majority of it is very well done. The film has a strong conclusion, while at the same time leaving things very open and not too predictable for the future of the MCU. I'd give it an 8/10. I'd give it a 9.9/10 for doing absolutely everything it could possibly do. But since it has to juggle so many locations and characters and events simultaneously, it's impossible for it to not be at least a little bit confusing and slightly disjointed. I don't think it's possible to have an enjoyable film while cramming more characters than this one did.
8/10 Movie, 10/10 cinematic experience.
Look, being fair here, I wasn't expecting Infinity War to be a masterpiece the way, say, "Citizen Kane" or "The Disaster Artist" were. It's a money-machine Superhero Blockbuster with a cast 30 characters strong, so I was mostly just expecting two and a half hours of mind-boggling action and over-the-top visual fare. And yet, Infinity War manages to present a mostly coherently plotted film, where Thanos' quest for balance is at the center of the story, and all other relevant Character Arcs are caught in its immediate gravity. Thanos fully lives up to the hype and very much stars as the main character in the film, as Josh Brolin plays him with great pathos and gravitas, and his backstory and motivations are arguably ones that Real Life will someday be confronted with itself. Virtually every other character gets to take part in a memorable action scene, express themselves in poignant dialogue, or at least pull a memorable joke out of their sleeve at some point, and while there are inevitably some characters that get comparatively shafted all of them at least feel like they are being themselves. The movie does admittely bounce around between several groups of characters a bit too much in the middle part of the film, but that in itself does help underline the sense of urgency this film presents us with. There is a fair share of good old Marvel humor in this movie, but it is mostly born in the chemistry between various characters (some of which never met), or visual jokes, rather than forcibly awkward quips as it was the case with Age of Ultron or Justice League. In the entire 2,5 hour movie there were maybe two jokes that I felt actively detracted from the film. This humor does, however, NOT undermine the sense of darkness and gravity that the should carry with it. I've seen some people express Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy over this movie, from its Downer Beginning to its Downer Ending, but I feel that this movie should be dark, and its villain should win , as he did. Marvel Studios has been building up to this movie and character for up for a decade, and it is technically only the first in a two-part story, so really the way things played out was the only way to do this movie justice. All in all, Infinity War is as good of a movie as it could have been, which is to say that it has brilliant acting, writing, and special effects, but its storytelling suffers under the sheer scope of this event, even if it could have been far worse. As a cinematic viewing, however, Infinity War rises above and beyond as one of the all-time greats: Watch this movie in a theather that will likely have other MCU fans invested in these characters, and enjoy as you collectively laugh, cry, gasp, and immerse yourselves. During the very climax of the movie you could hear a pin fall in the theatre I went.
... That's about it, really. Being the next film in the Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Black Panther series, it's not like Infinity War could have been 'bad'. I'd like to pretend that I have a mature and intellectual take on these kinds of crossovers, but screw it; if Iron Man and Spider-Man are hanging out with Doctor Strange and Star-Lord, then that's really freakin' cool and I will be there to watch in rapt amusement as they struggle to make pop culture references over each other. And while not every franchise is really explored to its full potential - shockingly, Captain America himself doesn't do very much - they all get enough screentime in the action and drama scenes to feel like they matter. The supporting cast for most of these films also appear, and although there are some notable exceptions (where's Valkyrie?) everyone feels fleshed out. Except... Thanos. I'm not hugely into comics but Thanos is the kind of villain who's famous for what he's done rather than who he is. You could ignore every famous story about The Joker and still talk for hours about him, because he's the Joker. Take away what Thanos has done and what is there to talk about? He's space-Hulk with a glove, who wants to kill people because he has a crush on death or something. I was interested to see how this would be adapted for the film, and he certainly has motivations and people he cares about and a growing respect for the heroes, but he's still quite bland compared to certain other Marvel villains. Which, given that this group contains 'dark elves' and 'Ant-Man but... bad Ant-Man', isn't exactly a glowing endorsement. But it's hard to talk about the film without mentioning the cosmic sadness it inspires. It's part 1 of 2, so you know things will get bleak, but fuck! Thanos successfully wipes out half of the world. Watching Bucky Barnes, Drax and Groot fade into ashes in front of their friends was sad. Watching Black Panther die while trying to help up Okoye was a huge shock. Watching Star-Lord and Doctor Strange fade away, the former disappointed and regretful, the latter with morose resignment, made me think Marvel weren't holding back. And when Peter Parker, terrified and apologetic, died in Tony's arms, I just silently cried. Not only is this brutal, but it kind of foils the positive reaction to this film's lighter moments - and any previous lighter moments in the MCU. You don't laugh at a joke when you know how it ends. I can't imagine this will be a very rewatchable film, at least until the sequel is out. In short, this film inspired a similar reaction to a good Game of Thrones season finale. a) That was great, I loved it. b) I wish someone had stabbed me to death before I had watched that. c) I have to wait a year before I can see the next one? Ugh!
Infinity War might finally be too much of a good (or evil) thing
If you go to the theatres for lighthearted fun and enjoyment, stay away from Infinity War. If, conversely, you like the era of Darker and Edgier, if you feel Evil Is Cool, if you enjoy Rooting for the Empire, if you worship at the altar of the Villain Protagonist — then sure, this film is for you. Have fun. Because that's what this is: it's Thanos' movie. It's almost a disservice to call it an Avengers film when the villain is actually the central character. It's all of those above tropes taken to their collective logical extreme and drawn out for 2:40. That's not to say Infinity War isn't impressive in other ways — the Visual Effects of Awesome are astounding as always, it's packed with action (little else, really), and there is humour, if you can follow the rapid-fire rushes of dialogue enough to pick up what was just said. The movie has its merits, no question about that, and it achieves its share of entertainment, somewhat by force. But enjoyment? Not so much. You've got to go in expecting one No-Holds-Barred Beatdown against the heroes after another, because that's what this film basically is — a Downer Beginning, an outright Tear Jerker Downer Ending, and a string of Curb Stomp Battles in between with maybe two brief Hope Spots. Infinity War has tons of hype already and will get solid reviews, but this could conceivably be the film that finally overdoes Darker and Edgier to such an extent that it fatally alienates average MCU viewers and hobbles the franchise for films to come. I doubt it, and I hope not, but the possibility is there.
It deserves credit for not being quite the unholy mess it could\'ve been...
Oh, this is by no means bad. If anything, it's... probably about as good of a film as we could expect, given the sheer number of stuff going into it. I mean, I don't even want to count the number of characters there are in this thing... Thanos is a great villain. The action is spectacular. When characters from different properties interact, it's just delightful. But there's no real focus, and when it does start to focus on things... it's rarely compelling. And a lot of the stuff that's supposed to feel super important... just ring hollow, because of that lack of focus. It's a fair bit of a mess, but given what it's trying to be... how could it not be?
Avengers: Infinity War - Thanos cometh!
Avengers: Infinity War is goddamn awesome. The film delivers on nearly every single front and them some. Much like A Quiet Place earlier this year, there's no "secret" to why Infinity War works, it just accomplishes everything it sets out to achieve. The funny parts are funny, the exciting parts are exciting and the parts that try to make you cry...they really fecking make you cry! Although this wasn't a grim film, it had its fair share of jokes (a few too many, if I'm being honest), the second half is almost none stop drama and it is some of the most gripping stuff I've seen in a block-buster. There are multiple "heart in throat" in moments in this film and by the end they add to an exhausting, exhilarating film! I do have some minor complaints, but they are truly minor: - The film does...okay this kind of a spoiler, so I'll just say: it does a thing with a character and even though it's an effective moment, it does kind of play into a sexist trope. You'll know it when you see it. - The middle was a bit messy, as we jump around to multiple characters, but it all works out in the end for a really good finish. - If you don't have at least a passing knowledge of the previous MCU films, this movie will make absolutely NO sense, but that's kind of to be expected. I guess you could also say that there isn't much development for the heroes but that's what the individual instalments are for: you watch an Avengers film to see the characters kicking ass together, and this film really delivers on that front. Ultimately though, the thing that you go to see a film like Avengers for is the interaction between some truly great characters, and that facet is on full display here: everyone gets a moment to shine, everyone is really cool and the combinations they all spin off into are all excellent and witty and just...the best, with my personal being the trio of Strange, Iron Man and Spider Man and the surprisingly effective double team of Thor and Rocket. But out of everyone, I'd have to say that the MVP of the film is unquestionably Thanos himself. Josh Brolin does a truly excellent job creating a character that is threatening, yet also weirdly sympathetic and likeable. I don't know if Thanos is the "best" MCU film villain, but he's up there. Avengers: Infinity War is the epitome of what makes these Marvel films good: it's funny, exciting, the characters are wonderful, yet the drama is truly gripping. I give this movie a hearty recommendation and demand that you all go and see it [though you were probably gonna do it anyway ;)]