It’s been the accumulation of ten years and eighteen (yes eighteen) films, but now it’s finally here. Avengers Infinity War, the most anticipated film since the last film you were told to anticipate. I will just say that if I’m being a bit vague with this review it’s because I’m working to avoid spoilers. Like I said, for some it has been a ten year wait, so I will respect those who have not seen it yet. Besides, this is a surprisingly easy film to spoil. It feels like a big even happens every single scene. But maybe that shouldn’t be surprising with a film this big.
Thanos, that villain who we’ve apparently been waiting for even though he’s only sat in a chair up to this point, has arrived. He wants the infinity stones, six gems with the combined ability to change reality as we know it. The Avengers are out matched. Having splintered apart they must now re-join forces again – as well as joining forces with Doctor Strange, the people of Wakanda and the Guardians of the Galaxy. But still, will that be enough to stop Thanos from wiping out half of all life in the universe?
The MCU is a colossal mixed bag for me. I do like some, even love a couple of them – but, while there are a couple that I really don’t like, most of them are just aggressively average to me. After a while they start to blend into one. It’s because of this I wasn’t really looking forward to this one. The trailer didn’t help matters. I feel like I’m part of a minority here, but I was not impressed by how this film looked. It looked like another film where the Avengers fight another big bad, call out some quips, make an obscure comic book reference and fight another disposable army with ease. But while the film does end up becoming that, I can’t deny that I got more than I bargained for here.
This could have easily been a colossal mess. Have you seen the cast alone? It looks like every actor working today has a role. But the Russo brothers, who gave us Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, somehow pull it off very well. I can’t even begin to imagine what this must have been like. The stress of getting it right must have been unbearable. I feel like if this was written and directed by other Avengers films director Joss Whedon then this would have completely fallen flat. The Russo’s seem to know exactly what they are doing. For the most part at least.
Not only do we have a huge cast to accommodate, all members giving their usual good performances, but we’ve got characters who other film makers have made – all with different styles and tones. We have a film that features the gritty, serious and occasionally thought-provoking Captain America and also the silly, fun-loving and surreal Guardians of the Galaxy. To avoid this they take a little bit from Thor Ragnarok – in that the tones change depending on which character you are following. This means that everyone is split up for most of the film, with us all following little teams with their own little story-lines which all lead up to the same huge event. This was clearly the best choice for the film to make.
But one thing that is constant throughout the whole film is how hopeless and depressing it can be. We get our typical heroes getting over powered by the henchman scenes that we’ve come to expect. But then we get these full on dark and upsetting moments. I walked out of the cinema thinking that there are going to be a lot of crying children these next few weeks. I do admire the film for having the gall to do what it does. There are many moments that pleasantly subverted my expectations. An early example is that I wondered how long it would be before Hulk and Thanos fought – turns out it’s at the very beginning and it doesn’t go well. That’s a minor point, but there are more, greater ones.
But we are still watching a Marvel film. Which means that it’s still a fun little action film at heart. The action is great. The Russo’s, who usually use shaky-cam for their action really tone it down and just let the choreography speak for itself. It also means that the effects are pretty good. They’re great on the Avengers, Thanos and the planets and ships – although the effects on Thanos’ henchmen and some of the explosions did make me wince. It does also mean that the film feels longer than it should be. At over two-and-a-half hours long, it drags at points. There’s one storyline I feel the film could have managed without. There’s also a minor role from a famous television actor, and he is just dreadful in his little amount of screen time.
But really Infinity War rests, and always has rested on one thing. Is Thanos a good villain? The answer to that would determine how well the film would be taken. I am pleasantly surprised to say that Thanos is certainly one of the best villains of the MCU, and possibly even one of the best villains in a superhero film in general. He’s a great villain. It’s been said that to have a great villain you have to make them sympathetic – while you do oddly sympathise with him at times, I don’t agree with that statement. I think that all you need to do is make them interesting. That’s where Thanos, and other more recent Marvel villains like Killmonger, Vulture, Hela and Ego succeed. Thanos really believes that he’s the good guy. That he’s saving the universe by causing this mass genocide. That’s really interesting and gets you both scared of and fascinated with him. Physically, while he does weirdly look like a purple Homer Simpson, he’s an imposing force that devours the screen whenever he’s on it. Adding to that an amazing performance from the incredible Josh Brolin, selling this character body and soul, and you have a clear winner.
I have my issues with Infinity War. I didn’t expect much – in some ways it surpassed that, but in others it was exactly what I expected. I will say that I did prefer Black Panther this year. A great villain and a lot of fun riding with the Guardians and Thor again were enough to let me enjoy it. I’m still thinking about the darker moments as well, so there’s a positive too. Other than that, it’s just a darker version of the Marvel films that have come before. The only thing I will say that might lead into spoilers is that this is not a full story – part two is coming next year. That was disappointing for me. If you haven’t already go and see it. I can see this being as divisive as Star Wars: The Last Jedi, particularly come the midway point. Don’t expect the final chapter to Marvels great saga, but do expect another valiant effort from the studio.
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