Movie Review: 'Avengers: Infinity War'
Opened: 26 April 2018 (UK)
Cast: Robert Downey Jr. , Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Chris Pratt
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Producer: Kevin Feige
This review contains no spoilers.
“There was an idea… To bring together a group of remarkable people… To see if we could become something more… So, when they needed us we could fight the battles… That they never could…”
10 years. 18 films. And they’ve all been leading up to this. THIS. Infinity War isn’t just a milestone among comic book geeks, but it’s perhaps a milestone in movie making history. With a roster that comprises of the who’s who of the movie biz, all of whom ironically, in some shape or form owe their success by and large to the monumental Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has amassed billions of dollars at the global box office and was perhaps single-handedly responsible for resuscitating the superhero genre and making it the juggernaut that it is today, the film carries with it monumental expectations, which by and large will divide audiences, but I felt it was an entirely fitting climax and one that meets, even if it didn't exceed mine.
In some sense Infinity War is not so much a movie, it’s more of an event. The culmination of a series of films, all spectacular in their own right, the Russo brothers are tasked with merging all of that together and it is to their credit, that they by and large succeed by rising to the challenge and deliver a blockbuster that does justice to its source material, even if it is at the expense of a few vital character arcs and even if they take certain convenient liberties with their screenplay.
The avid Marvel Comics reader will recognise much of this storyline from 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet arc, where a mad god Thanos (hinted at in glimpses in post credit sequences over the past decade), acquires six powerful Infinity stones and uses them to wipe out half the universe’s population, resulting in an all-hands-on-deck brawl between him and scores of Marvel superheroes, who go all out and sacrifice themselves in order to stop the maniacal god before he unleashes a wave of genocide and obliterates millions of lives in the process.
The plot in itself isn’t much of a surprise here. What is however, is how the Russo brothers execute it to near perfection, and even if it pales in comparison to their previous Marvel outings (particularly Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Infinity War is confident, efficient filmmaking at its finest, juggling numerous plot points and tying up loose ends to deliver awe, melodrama and spectacle in equal measures.
What it lacks though is that wow factor that had audiences cheering to a relatively smaller crossover of the Avengers in 2012, but as a stand-alone entity it’s a ‘Marvel’lous beast both to look at and experience, ticking all the boxes in the right places, perhaps sometimes even at the expense of character development which controversially places it a little below The Avengers in that respect in my opinion, purely because there’s so much going on.
Tonally it’s the studio’s bleakest, most morbid film yet, with characters being killed off at alarmingly regular intervals, something of a downer especially if you’ve invested a decade in them.
Surprisingly, by and large the film is almost entirely revolves around its antagonist Thanos, played to perfection in motion capture by Josh Brolin. Some might say that this is a gamble, but naysayers aside, I’d argue it’s a pretty good choice, given the central protagonists themselves have had dozens of movies in which to establish their characters in. That said, none of them disappoint despite their lack of dialogue and interaction, but it is Saldana’s Gamora, who particularly shines given her previous equation with Thanos, and Olsen and Bettany who get one of the movie’s quieter moments in which they establish their growing closeness to one another.
Comparatively, Johansson, Evans, Boseman and even Downey Jr. don't get much to play with (but I'm guessing that's they're being saved for the sequel), while Ruffalo gets to have fun with his character even if, disappointingly, he doesn't 'Hulk up' as regularly as we'd like him to. Hemsworth has the relatively bigger part here, and his interactions with Rocket Racoon and Groot are particularly humorous giving the film it's lighter moments, which are few and far between. Pratt is badass and kicks ass, but for now is reduced to a supporting part, which is understandable given the numerous loose ends the film has to tie up, while Cumberbatch is efficient as surprisingly, one of the film's key characters who helps move the plot forward. Holland meanwhile remains pitch perfect as Spidey, expertly embodying Peter Parker and his arachnid alter ego, and his pop culture references are sure to bring the house down.
The film unfairly has received some criticism for focusing less on character development, and more on all out spectacle and sacrifice. Is it valid? Not really. It's important to note that this is only half of that all important climax we've been waiting for and as such, it's inevitable that things will feel a little incomplete, but that's exactly the point. Given how many character arcs have to be justified, it goes without saying that some might feel a little cheated which makes sense. But I don't think its so much to do with the content of the movie per se, but rather the fact that the superhero genre itself might be reaching a saturation point. That the MCU has until now, managed to dodge that moot point, says something with the risks they're taking and credit has to be given where it's due. As such, Infinity War might not live up to the gargantuan expectations, but as a standalone entity, it's a SOLID film that will whet most appetites, and leave them hungrier than before for the spectacular finale that's promised next summer. Get your geek hat on and go and enjoy the ride!