REVIEW: “Avengers: Infinity War”

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There was never any doubt that Disney’s superhero goldmine “Avengers: Infinity War” would make a lot of money. The only suspense was in seeing how much. Turns out more than any other movie ever for an opening weekend and it should easily top $1 billion by its second weekend. That’s a lot of money.

With a budget of nearly $400 million, “Infinity War” is easily one of the most expensive films ever made. Marvel Studios swings for the fences in framing this as a through-and-through event picture – a culmination of their decade-long and nineteen movie strong Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s a gargantuan production with as many moving parts as big special effects (and that’s a lot) and a massive cast that will require a scorecard and pencil for those not well versed in Marvel’s vast movie landscape.

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Anthony and Joe Russo are tasked with directing this juggernaut of a story based on the screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The Russo brothers are a good fit as they helmed two of Marvel’s best films: “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain America: Civil War”. Markus and McFeely penned all three Captain America movies in addition to the not so hot “Thor: Dark World”. Thankfully “Infinity War” is much more in line with the Cap movies than their Thor misfire.

You could say all of the recent MCU movies have been setting up for this intergalactic crisis. Through various passing dialogues and end credits scenes we have been introduced to Thanos (Josh Brolin), a despot of unshakable conviction scouring the universe for the six magical Infinity Stones. The one who wields all six stones will gain unlimited power to bend reality with a snap of their finger. You could say this is Thanos’ movie and it seems that Brolin has more screen time than any other character.

“Infinity War” has a lot on its plate and a ton of narrative threads to bring together. That means characters crossing paths often for the first time. This can be pretty satisfying and a lot of fun for followers of the MCU. The aftermath of “Thor: Ragnarok”, decisions made in Wakanda, lingering tensions from “Civil War” are just a few of the past storylines that influence Markus and McFeely’s script. On top of that the film does a pretty incredible juggling act in giving each character their moments. Only a handful of characters are missing and the movie doesn’t do the best job of explaining their absence.

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The ‘Phase One’ big hitters are all here. Robert Downey, Jr’s Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, and Chris Evans’ Captain America are major players (although Cap seems back-burnered a bit). Surprisingly the Guardians of the Galaxy have just as much screen time and play equally significant roles. Overall it’s cool to see characters like Vision (Paul Bettany), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) all given meaningful story angles. But again, the true centerpiece is indeed Thanos and we are fed morsels of information which give form to his motivations and mindsets. Brolin is quite good presenting a villain with more on his mind than the generic quest to rule the universe despite what it may look like on the surface.

While “Infinity War” is plump with plot, the Russos offer just as much CGI-fueled PG-13 action. The scenes shift between feverish hand-held camerawork and bigger digitally enhanced polish. I can already anticipate complaints from those tired of the superhero genre and it’s big action formula. This film certainly doesn’t stray from that. But I go back to this being an ‘event movie’ and I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit to being thrilled by some of the large-scaled battles and big character moments.

Another big piece is the humor which has become a signature of the overall MCU. “Infinity War” definitely has some big laughs and the audience I sat with really went with it. It does clash just a tad later in the film as things begin to get dire. Still this is where some of the characters really shine (Dave Bautista’s Drax is nothing short of hysterical).

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All of this is worthy of conversation, but what most people will be talking about is the ending. It’s truly a gutsy move by the Russo brothers and company but I’m a bit mixed on its effect. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil a thing, but let’s just say it felt unquestionably inevitable especially for a film clearly framed as the first of a two-parter. For me that has definitely effected the impact since first seeing it. Nevertheless, in those moments I was captivated and glued to the big screen.

The fact that “Infinity War” managed to pull off such a feat especially in the face of earth-shattering expectations deserves praise in itself. This is a mammoth-sized movie in every possible way and simply making it all coherent is impressive. “Infinity War” does much more than that. It’s a thrilling, funny, emotional, rip-roaring crowd-pleaser that serves as a fitting culmination of their decade-long buildup. Now let’s see if they can pull it all together in a satisfying way. We will know next May.

VERDICT – 4 STARS

4-stars

27 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Avengers: Infinity War”

  1. Where was that man and pretty lady that started this whole mess? I didn’t see him or her anywhere in this picture and it weren’t nothing like what they used to do. This picture just wasn’t any good without that feller with the derby hat and umbrella walking stick and that pretty lady with him.

  2. Loved it, but it could have been much better. There were some plot / motivation inconsistencies that bothered me. And basically almost the whole film was a mix of “guys talking with a peaceful background” and “bang bang”, with very little in between.

    • It’s really tough for me to give the plot too much heat knowing that’s it is essentially incomplete. The next part has a lot to tie up in order to make everything come out.

    • Oh it’ll be really interesting. I can’t help but feel it will do really well. I think this one earns a good audience for the next.

  3. As always, I appreciate your fairly objective approaches to reviews Keith, its so hard with a movie of this size to not just either gush or rant about this that or the other. Its also difficult not to delve into a plot explication or give inadvertent spoilers. I’m with you re: the ending. It was effective but I think the overall structure of the MCU and in particular this Infinity War being split into 2 kind of neuters the emotional impact of THAT sequence. I was certainly impressed by the boldness of it, but at the same time its a little rope-a-dope of the studio to expect us to believe that thats it, for ALL those people. . .

    Come on. Disney likes money.

    • Oh man, I really appreciate the kind words. This was a toughie to write about without inadvertently tossing out spoilers. It’s also a hard movie to ‘score’ simply because its story is essentially unfinished. It’s certainly a unique thing. Viewing it as an ‘event movie’ I gotta say I had a blast. Definitely a step up from “Age of Ultron”.

      • Yeah i thought for all that was at stake here (narratively and financially) the filmmakers really outdid themselves. Not only does the story flow rather well given how much is happening but they find some ways to make the very suggestion of things REALLY not working out seem plausible and somewhat emotional. As you noted, this is merely Part 1 and yet, there was a surprising amount of dramatic heft in those final scenes. A few people behind me in my screening were sobbing over it haha. Thought that was a bit much, but at the same time that speaks to the big-picture strategy the studio has been pursuing all these years

      • Oh man, at different times throughout our screening I heard crying, laughter, and cheers. I really hit the crowd like it aimed to.

  4. I think the film is definitely a knock-out both literal and metaphorical as the way it ended took a lot of balls for Marvel to do something like that. When I want to see it, the air of silence is something I will definitely remember where everyone was knocked out by what they saw and we were all in shock. Some were crying and others were just stunned right to the end. I’m still kind of processing it as there’s so many things about the film that I loved including Thanos who is definitely a villain for the ages. The shit he does is intense. How is the MCU is going to top this?

    • This was a stunning accomplishment in many regards. I can completely understand why you’re still processing it. There is so much to soak in. The fact that it turned out as well as it did is amazing. And YES! Our screening features that exact same stunned silence. It’ll stick with me too!

  5. I have not been a huge fan of the more recent movies. Spiderman: Homecoming , really do not like and Thor : Ragnarok left me kinda going , meh. Even Black Panther was just alright for me . So I was very interested in seeing if this one would be worth my money .
    For me , it was a true home run . Yes I could argue over certain plot issues but this one had less unneeded humor and allowed the serious moments to resonate and linger . It had more emotional bang and didn’t back away from being pretty dark . Plus I loved the score. It was intense and forboding. So I’m truly looking foward to how they finish this .
    I suspect there will be a huge death in the last one and my money will be one Cap sacrificing himself somehow to save our heroes and universe . So this gets a solid 8.5 Cap Shields out of 10 .

    • Ughhh. I will be thoroughly annoyed if Cap dies. I know Evans and Downey have both said they would like to move on, but I’m a huge Cap fan so I hope not!!!!

  6. It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve seen it and I’m STILL processing everything. I will say that I was surprised by my own initial reaction to that ending. I don’t normally get emotional during these kinds of movies, but I was definitely hurt!

    I’m a fan of these “big events” as you call them. I think you have to just accept what it is going in. It’s fun just for the sake of fun after all. And I have to give credit where it’s due- I think the Russos were overall successful dealing with so many moving pieces and still delivering BIG. It’s a movie we’ll all be talking about for years to come.

    • I think you are exactly right. You truly do have to view these things in their own unique light. In fact I think that’s where some go wrong. For me IW delivered in ways I never expected. Things could have went terribly wrong. Instead, the opposite happened.

  7. Great work Keith. I think they did an admirable job in combining the characters and actually having something resembling a story. I’ll definitely be in cinema next year for the follow up, make no mistake about that!

    • Thank you! It is a movie that definitely gives you plenty to talk about! And this one did more than enough to have me back next year for the next installment.

  8. I’m pretty nervous about Avengers Four. Obviously I don’t want to see my favorites go (Cap and Thor), but also I don’t want it to flop in the wake of Infinity War. Very honest review tho, and I agree it’s a four star movie (maybe even a 4.5 star).

    • Yep. Expectation were high for this one, but after it’s mammoth success they will be even higher for next year’s film. I really hope they stick the landing.

  9. Pingback: That Ryan Reynolds Movie Everyone is Talking About | Thomas J

  10. “The fact that “Infinity War” managed to pull off such a feat especially in the face of earth-shattering expectations deserves praise in itself.”

    Exactly. The Russo Brothers took on a gargantuan task and made it work without the film feeling too cluttered.

    • I can’t believe they did it. There are so many reasons why this could have failed. Wrangling the tons of moving parts was such a tough task.

  11. Really good review, Keith! I do agree with you on Captain America’s screen time getting reduced to a certain extent. I just assumed that Captain America would receive a bigger story in Avengers 4. I also agree with you on that infamous ending. That ending is one of the things I didn’t like about this film, even though I thought Avengers: Infinity War was a good movie. I also reviewed this movie on my blog, so check it out if you get the chance!

    https://18cinemalane.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/take-3-avengers-infinity-war-spoiler-free-review/
    https://18cinemalane.wordpress.com/2018/05/17/take-3-avengers-infinity-war-spoiler-zone-review/

    • Thanks. I certainly give your review a look. The ending is tricky. I loved the audacity of allowing the antagonist to have a big win. At the same time you know some of it will be undone. The big question is how much?

      • The popular theory from a lot of fans has been the idea of time travel being used to bring back the heroes that have “disappeared”. Also, Captain Marvel will appear in Avengers 4 only two months after her stand-alone film. It’ll be interesting to see how much significance Captain Marvel is given in the next Avengers film compared to the heroes that have been in the MCU for more than a year.

      • I feel Captain Marvel has a pretty significant role to play in the next movie. I just hope they are able to put all the pieces together in a way that is satisfying. It will be interested to watch the two movies together as a whole.

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