Avengers: Infinity War - 2018
Director(s): Anthony and Joe Russo
Writer(s): Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (screenplay) / Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (characters)
Cinematography by: Trent Opaloch
Editor(s): Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt
Synopsis: The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe (IMDB).
Alright everybody, gather around your local movie theater and get ready to watch season three’s mid-season finale of Marvel’s Avengers. The moment I guess we have all been waiting for, according to all the marketing, is here, despite this being a part one of two and we need to wait for closure. You have watched eighteen movies that encompass around 38-hours of entertainment, with around 25 heroes (and their supporting cast), and now all the moving pieces must perfectly fit within this two-part story arc. This is something that I feel needs to be added to the grading curve for The Russo Brothers as they are shouldering both the fans’ expectations and the biggest event of the box office juggernaut that Marvel has become. With that set-up, let’s talk about the movie.
Quick note: if you didn’t know that this is a part one of a two, factor that in to your expectations. Also, this is a long movie so go to the bathroom beforehand.
I enjoyed this movie, I truly did. There is something awe inspiring about the scope taken on by Marvel. There are very few “slow” moments within the runtime since they cover so much ground. If you have seen the trailers you already know that the group is split into manageable sized teams and each is responsible for a part of the story arc. So, we are jolted back and forth between each storyline as the writers try to keep all the plates in the air long enough so the audience stays engaged. I’ll be honest, there were a couple of times the camera cut back to a certain character and I just thought “Oh, yeah this is happening.”. While talking with my wife she asked me about a scene during the opening of the movie and I had already forgotten that it happened. It deflates the scope a bit when you are left just trying to remember what you saw.
Quick note: maybe I was paying more attention this time around, but the score was more present and impactful during pivotal moments. Alan Silvestri does a fine job balancing the hero’s themes and amplifying the magnitude of the moments.
The Russo brothers showed in Winter Soldier their ability to shoot and frame hand to hand combat. Their vision is clear and the punches and the kicks feel that they are landing. In Civil War, they showed their ability to shoot large scale action sequences, while still holding true to the grounded feel of the fights. Infinity War is on a completely different level. I keep thinking to myself, there is nothing really to compare it to on a 1 to 1 ratio. There are so many action sequences, so many characters and so many locations that the simple fact that all of them were in focus and all of them were understandable is impressive. They knew how to utilize the character movements and powers to their advantage and almost everyone had a sequence in where they shined or had a “bad-ass” moment. My qualm would be the same as in the previous paragraph above, there are so many things going on that it becomes sensory overload. Almost all the set pieces feel like the third act of any other movie, so by the time you reach set piece number forty-eight I really didn’t care, I just wanted to go home and rest my eyes.
I’ll say this about the movie and it’s something I wasn’t expecting: Thanos is awesome. While his motivation is not something I connected with or even 100% understood – his conviction and determination sold it for me. We get enough character moments from him that you forget he’s the “end-credits” baddie or the guy in the chair from Guardians. I was afraid he would’ve become just a mustache twirling bad guy who just wants world domination because it’s an evil thing to do. The writers and the Russo brothers showed that they cared about Thanos as a character and gave him enough backstory and character moments to build him up to the point that I believed him as a person and forgave his purple look. The animation on his face and body also helped as you see more Brolin than I expected. His moments with Gamora are huge stand-outs for me and they are the glue of the movie.
Quick note: Thanos is also part of the more visually compelling moments of this movie. Cinematographer Trent Opaloch used these moments of stillness and quietness to his advantage, since the rest are huge action set-pieces.
The acting is solid all around. Chris Hemsworth as Thor stole the movie for me, being hilarious during his interactions with the Guardians, while still being vulnerable and hurt due to his loss. I liked Benedict Cumberbatch more as Dr. Strange; he is coming into his own within the role and his action set pieces are one of the more fun parts of the movie. Zoe Saldana as Gamora got to flex her acting muscles a bit more, since the core of the movie is her relationship with Thanos. I was weirdly annoyed with Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, he was a little too over the top with his line delivery and it felt cartoonish compared to his performance before. The rest were in autopilot since they have lived and breath within their character for so long that their personas are part of them.
Quick note: some of the interactions between new team members work better than others. I laughed a lot during the Guardians and Thor moments, but Iron Man and Starlord felt forced and clunky. Still impressed at how seamless the overall product felt.
Now a lot of people are saying that the events of this movie will be felt throughout the entire MCU moving forward. While I can see certain things affecting our heroes, ultimately this movie is just the cinematic equivalent of blue balls, which is something I already knew coming in. Knowing the source material, a version of the outcome in the comics is to be expected once we conclude this arc. While I was watching it, I was impressed to a certain degree and at times I thought “good for them, going that dark in that moment.” But once we reached the end and something happens (Trying to not spoil) I was taken out completely and knew that almost all that I saw was meaningless in terms of the impact to the MCU. Two-Hours and Forty-Minutes of somewhat meaningless fun. Yes, it was entertaining and impressive, but I got a “so what?” feeling washing over me as I watched the credits roll. Not saying you won’t love it, just saying I hope this is the last “end of the world” arc and we get smaller character driven stories moving forward.
Update: After watching it for a second time I don't 100% agree with the paragraph above, especially the "so what" feeling. But, I will leave it on my review since it was how I felt after my first time viewing.
Avengers Infinity War is unlike anything you have seen before. It’s the beginning of the culmination of hours-upon hours of material in where countless of fans are beyond invested. There are hundreds of small storylines that play a part in this glove that seeks to put them all in one cohesive place. The Russo brothers along with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and Kevin Feige gave us the best version of what that movie could actually be and it was fun. In the hands of anybody else this would’ve been a complete mess, so for it just being coherent, entertaining and still delivering some fanservice they deserve all the praise in the world. My general feelings aside, I do see this as a success in storytelling given the handicaps they faced and I look forward to the conclusion of this story arc. The team behind this movie is why I love movies.
Avengers Infinity War is currently playing in theaters. Nothing I say or don’t say will matter. You probably already saw it. Hope you liked it.
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