Readers be warned: this review contains no explicit spoilers of “Avengers: Infinity War” but does allude to some major events of the film.
It all started with Jon Favreau’s “Iron Man.” And now, a little under ten years later, the near-decade long build up has finally culminated in the Russo brothers’ “Avengers: Infinity War.” And it is assuredly fair to say it pays off that build up, and then some.
The Russo brothers showed they were one of the greatest directing teams in superhero cinema with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” and “Captain America: Civil War,” and “Avengers: Infinity War” is no exception. From start to finish, “Infinity War” is a spectacle to behold: action scenes feel like they’ve leapt right off the comic book page, and new connections between fan favorite characters make for incredible teamwork potential and enjoyable dialogue. Every action scene in “Infinity War” feels like the highly praised airport scene in “Captain America: Civil War,” but with more stakes and actual serious consequences. Seeing characters fans have grown to love over multiple films finally crossing over and working together is thrilling to say the least.
Aside from hosting some of the greatest superhero action scenes to grace the silver screen, it also adapted one of the greatest comic villains of all time: Thanos, the Mad Titan. Josh Brolin brings the character to life in a way that is both emotionally resonant and fiercely dreadful. Every minute Thanos is on screen, viewers are drawn to him with a sense of awe and fear. Any time a character is within his grasp, the audience is on the edge of their seat wondering if “Infinity War” will be the last they see of them. And for some characters, this winds up being true; by the end of the movie, Thanos has left deep scars in what is left of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Many have come to the same conclusion, and this is no exaggeration: “Avengers: Infinity War” is surely this generation’s “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.” Its impact will be felt throughout the industry, and it will leave a lasting impression on audiences and pop culture for years to come.
However, this praise and excitement comes as a result of following the cinematic universe for years. This is not the Marvel movie to start out on, just as “Empire Strikes Back” is not the Star Wars movie to start out on. One must grow to know and understand these characters before being able to fully enjoy them battling it out in the most brutal battle they’ve ever experienced, and “Infinity War” has no time to spare catching casual fans or newcomers up.
And even for longtime fans, this movie has its shortcomings. The Russo brothers do an amazing job of juggling an absolutely ridiculous amount of characters. “Infinity War” is almost four movies in one, but the pacing and characters hardly suffer. Yet, some very major MCU characters are killed off ungracefully or have so little to do in the film that they feel like over glorified cameos, which is certainly a shame. Given the movie’s scale, it’s understandable, and considering how well the Russos juggle the main players, feels more of a nitpick than anything else. Those underutilized that survive are almost surely going to be able to play a larger role in the 2019 sequel.
Another issue revolves around the story- that is to say, it barely exists. It’s a fair criticism to claim that the plot is really only there to lead into the next big action set-piece and not really to enhance the story or flesh out characters aside from the handful of main players. But that criticism also ignores fact that after ten years worth of story and character background, an exhilarating thrillride of a finale that forgoes deeper meaning or development was pretty well earned.
Even though in parts “Infinity War” seems to lean heavily into action over substance, it’s not a completely brainless film by any means. That is credit to the amazing performances of the main cast of heroes and Josh Brolin as Thanos – their performances really give weight to every punch and help to shape “Infinity War” into a movie that is both endlessly exciting and emotionally exhausting.
One cannot review “Avengers: Infinity War” without at least referencing its jaw-dropping ending (no spoilers). Once the end credits roll, it is hard to do anything but stare at the screen in awe. The Russo brothers put a twist on the genre that leaves viewers gutted and unable to fully react. This is a movie one truly needs to take time to collect their thoughts on, and for the risks it took alone, it will go down historically.
- Fantastic action sequences
- Strong performances
- Hard to access for non-fans
- Many characters get shafted
- Story suffers from huge cast
Photo courtesy of Marvel Universe