Avengers

Avengers: Infinity War

It’s been awhile since this movie came out. At least it has been here in the States. Based upon how secretive this movie has been kept, the nature of willingly withholding spoilers so that others may enjoy among the fan communities, and (most importantly for me) some more personal issues that I felt my time would be better focused upon in the past weeks, I found it difficult to write a review. Now that my time is considerably freer, it is time I feel for the review of Avengers: Infinity War.

I will attempt to avoid spoilers as much as possible, which will not be very long, as this is a movie almost tailor-made for a spoiler review. Everyone has been up in arms about Infinity War. Many have called it one of the best of the MCU, one of the best movies period, giving them such an emotional roller coaster. Others have called it an unmitigated disappointment and waste of potential. Personally, I thought the movie was okay. Nothing special. Not as great as many have called it, but certainly not the worst. I was not excited for this movie as many others were, so I certainly cannot call myself disappointed. If you want a pretty spectacle to kill two and half hours with, you could certainly do worse than Infinity War. Though you could also do better.

As revealed by Kevin Feige, Thanos’ origins are not like the comic Thanos, which I actually appreciated. Comic Thanos’ origin is wonderfully weird and bizarre, but I doubt it would have worked for the MCU. In the comics, the Infinity Stones were formed after the Big Bang and containing the power of God after he killed himself, which is the same basic origin as the movies, minus the suicidal God. In the comics, Thanos is someone who is so in love with Death, who is a physical embodiment and is a lady, often appearing skeletal. Thanos desperately wants Death to love him back but she just will not. That’s not the movie version, and I do not think the comic origin would have worked for the MCU.

Infinity War is the culmination of 10 years of Marvel movies and as a result, feels overstuffed while at the same time like it cut out a lot of material. Nearly every major character in the MCU is here and you can just feel the movie trying to give enough for each of them to do without feeling bloated but as a result, some characters feel underutilized. But it is also not entirely the directors’ fault. I’ve laid several criticisms at them over the years, from Winter Soldier being an overrated knock-off of much better 70s conspiracy thrillers, to my recent reevaluation of Civil War to just enjoyable enough, but the Russo Brothers this time around had an exceedingly difficult task even for the likes of John Ford, Orson Welles, David Lean, or Akira Kurosawa. There is so much going on at once, the fact this movie has any semblance of coherence is astounding. Seeing them try and manage this juggling act and succeeding in making it not fall flat on its face is a miracle in and of itself.

I may not be the biggest fan of the kind of movie Infinity War is, but many more do love it, if the audience in my own theater on opening Friday night, April 27th and the subsequent box office is any indication. I can hardly be mad though. These big, BIG everyone team up movies against giant guy who wants to destroy things open after 3-4 years of the kind of movie I like, which is the more smaller-scale, more focused on a certain few characters like we had last year. So if having these big team up movies every 3-4 years is the price to pay for several of the kind of movie I prefer for each year in between, I consider myself being given the better end of that deal.

 

Spoilers

 

Now then, the opening scene is actually very good. It gave me the brief hope that this movie was going to win me over. That I was finally going to really get interested in Thanos (Josh Brolin) and what he really is! After years of doing nothing in these movies, we were finally going to see him in action! Thanos massacres the entirety of the surviving Asgardians from Thor: Ragnarok, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is lost in space, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is sent to earth in a desperate plea to warn earth about Thanos. Then comes the rest of the movie.

From here, the movie takes a turn into the “mostly passable” region. We have fights on earth between Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Wong (Benedict Wong), and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) against some of Thanos’ henchmen. Interestingly, Hulk refuses to come out and fight, despite Banner’s pleas. Eventually, we see Stark, Strange, and Parker going into space, and Parker now dons the Iron Spider suit. One of the best parts of Homecoming, Parker rejecting the suit and being there for the little guy, neutered one movie later. Yay, I guess.

Hulk being frightened of fighting Thanos and Banner’s desperate begging of the Hulk to come out and fight is one of the most intriguing ideas to explore. When’s the last time you heard of someone like the Hulk being scared? Or Banner wanting to unleash the beast rather than keep him asleep? The problem is that with so many characters to juggle, the movie doesn’t have a lot of time for that. Though in fairness, Banner does get more than most.

Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) have started a romance and are hiding in Scotland. Yes, their relationship is a thing in the comics but they only had minor set-up for this in Civil War. I would have preferred to see them have their own movie first so that this could be properly explored but they’re still better off than Captain America (Chris Evans) and his team of Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). They’re in the movie for the same reason as War Machine (Don Cheadle) and Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt): to remind audiences they exist. And it provides Cap with an excuse to bring the gang to Wakanda to try and extract/destroy the Infinity Stone in Vision without killing him. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Shuri (Letitia Wright) agree to help and we see Bucky (Sebastian Stan), known as the White Wolf to Wakandans, has a cool new vibranium arm.

Thanos’ forces arrive and the fight is on! Is the action exciting? It sure seems like it is. I wish I could tell. I mentioned this in my Black Panther review, Marvel’s love of “million cuts per second “ fight editing, but it’s even worse here! Not only is it back, but it brought a friend along to the party! Shaky cam! And it makes it even more annoying! They’re fighting aliens that look like the ones from A Quiet Place (best movie of the year so far, and that’s coming from someone who is not really a horror fan) but I can barely tell what either side is doing when the action truly begins. We get to see these guys all come together to fight and yet we can’t! This action looks awesome Marvel, so let me watch it!

Back in space, the Guardians of the Galaxy find Thor, and have typical Guardians shenanigans. These were the best parts of the movie for me (the Guardians are my favorites of the MCU on the big screen side of things). Thor goes with Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) to meet giant dwarf (it makes sense when you watch the movie) Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones, X-Men: Days of Future Past) to make a new hammer now that Mjolnir’s destroyed. Longtime comic fans will know this hammer as Stormbreaker! (The character who wields it in the comics does not appear, however.) To the movie’s credit, I never thought any movie would make the process of forging a hammer genuinely exciting! I could not believe how invested I was there! I’m not sure if that says more about how good Marvel is at making the mundane exciting, or how bad everything else was in comparison, but it worked. And it resulted in one of my favorite conversations in the MCU ever!

The hammer is completed. The situation in Wakanda appears hopeless! The Avengers and Wakandan forces are being overrun! They’ve gotten close to Vision as Shuri is trying to remove the Infinity Stone from him! All hope is lost! Then Thor arrives with Rocket and Groot! The hammer flies, striking down many of Thanos’ minions! A big explosion of thunder and lighting emerges! Thor screams “BRING ME THANOS!” and we’re about to see Thor wail on them with his new weapon! Then it cuts back to space. Sarcastic yay.

The rest of the Guardians go after the rest of the stones, and Gamora gets captured by Thanos. In a genuinely heart-wrecking scene, we see Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) almost kill Gamora so she cannot be forced to reveal the Soul Stone’s location. He would have if not for Thanos turning Quill’s gun’s laser blast into bubbles.

Gamora is forced to reveal the location, and we find out the guardian of the stone is the Red Skull (originally played in The First Avenger by Hugo Weaving, played this time by Ross Marquand)! One of my favorite villains is back! This time he’s different, however. This time, after 70+ years of earth time, he appears to have grown more humble, accepting of his fate, trapped in an eternal purgatory of watching all and guarding the stone. It was quite intriguing, seeing this character who we all know as this insane megalomaniac being humbled and showing more humanity. Even in the comics, we rarely have seen such a thing from the Skull. He informs Thanos that the Soul Stone requires a sacrifice of something you love, “A soul for a soul”. Because Skull loved nothing and no one, his punishment has been to watch a treasure he cannot possess.

When Thanos hears this. He starts to cry. He becomes genuinely sad. I was shocked, for I was starting to finally buy into Thanos. I was starting to believe him as a character! Josh Brolin performs with such sincerity that I almost bought it! But then Gamora opens her mouth! She rambles on about Thanos not loving anything and laughs about it until Skull tells her, “those tears are not for him”. Then Thanos kills Gamora as a sacrifice (or her soul is trapped in the stone, which would make sense, it’s left just ambiguous enough), and he acquires the stone.

Stark, Strange, Parker, and the rest of the Guardians meet on Titan, Thanos’ homeworld, and team up to fight him. Thanos arrives and his backstory is given in a few lines of throwaway dialogue, where he reveals that his planet and people died because of overpopulation and wiping out of resources. So he wants to kill half of everyone in the universe (randomly) so that it won’t happen ever again. I might have had more empathy for him if only we got to see more of his story. God bless Josh Brolin, he’s trying, and he gives probably the best performance in the movie. The CGI mo-cap was astounding at times, even rivaling that of the Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy. Brolin’s what held me through the movie. Unfortunately, he’s just not provided with the best material needed to get the job done. I’m still glad they did not do comic Thanos’ origin, and certainly glad they did not do “I WILL DESTROY ALL AND RULE WHAT’S LEFT BECAUSE IT IS MY DESTINY!” (Cough Justice League’s Steppenwolf Cough). This new origin might have worked if only he had more than a few lines of dialogue for it.

After fight time, when Thanos steals Dr. Strange’s Infinity Stone, Thanos goes to earth to get the stone in Vision’s head. The Avengers, Wakandans, Rocket, and Groot successfully hold him back long enough for Wanda to destroy the stone. But then Thanos turns back time enough to bring Vision back to life, hence bring the stone back. So if he can do this, can’t he just bring back his people, make the Titan the paradise it used to be, decrease birth rates significantly, and make the universe have infinite resources? I don’t know. The movie does not make clear to what extent his powers can and cannot reach, so we’re just left wondering why he doesn’t do all that because the stones’ collective power seems limitless, basically making you God.

Thanos kills half of everyone, and we see several fan favorites turn to dust! Oh no! I’m so sad! We’re sure to not see Spider-Man again even though his sequel is confirmed to be coming out next year and Tom Holland is filming right now as you read this review. All the Guardians except Rocket are dead! We’ll never see them again except in the sequel that’s confirmed to be happening in 2020 that James Gunn and co. are preparing to film as I write this. Oh no, Black Panther died! He’s sure to never come back because Chadwick Boseman is not a hot actor right now and his movie did not gross over $1 billion. The weird thing is the movie gets it right in some instances. Bucky dying, though Cap doesn’t for some reason even though Chris Evans has made no secret of his desire to leave behind the MCU. Maybe if a Guardian survived along with Rocket, like Drax or Star-Lord or both, suffering the thought of living more without their beloved, Drax’s family as well as his new Guardians family, Quill living without the rest of the Guardians or Gamora anymore, I might have bought into it more. As it stands, killing off half of the people we know are gonna be back is not a risk. It’s a calculated wink. And then the movie cuts to Thanos on some forest planet that is not Titan revived, and then the movie just, kind of stops. The movie’s falling action happens and then that’s it. It’s not really an ending so much as, “okay, hope you fanboys got your money’s worth! Oh, and here’s an end-credit reminding you Captain Marvel’s coming next year even though we haven’t given a proper conclusion to this movie yet!”

 

Spoilers End

Like I said, I can’t be too mad. Sure the “ending” is still frustrating, but I can’t be too mad. The masses want this, it had some semblance of coherency, wasn’t as much of an unwieldy mess as I was expecting, and came out okay, which is more than I was expecting to give credit for. I just have no desire to watch this movie again other than for reminding myself of continuity. As I said above, I’m getting the better end of the deal as far as the kind of movies Marvel is making if patterns hold. See you again in a year for the proper conclusion.

Image from BGR.com

Written By: Alexander Trovini

Cinephile. Love movies, history, books, video games. Star Wars, 007, Law and Order, Person of Interest, Marvel, DC, Indiana Jones, Sonic, Mario, Tom Clancy. Fun-lover.

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