Apr 27, 2018

[Movies] Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Review

Well, we've finally reached this point. After 18 movies in the official Marvel Cinematic Universe organized in 3 distinct phases, things have finally come to a head with Avengers: Infinity War.  The movie was originally announced as being "Part 1" of a duology of movies but for its actual release they've dropped the number from the title. Who knows what they're going to call the next movie, eh?

Never in my life did I imagine that anyone could make a proper movie to capture even part of the scale of the original The Infinity Gauntlet storyline as the introduction of the insanely powerful Infinity Stones represented such a major shift of power in the Marvel Universe. And it gave a heck of a lot better focus for the character of Thanos versus his earlier incarnations.

Somehow this movie managed to check a lot of those boxes and found a way to find a balance between the "rules" of the MCU thus far together with the established lore from the comics. They also somewhat bridged the gap between the difference in tone for how Jim Starlin would write the character of Thanos veruss his more recent incarnation in comics penned by the likes of Jonathan Hickman.

Synopsis: Avengers: Infinity War is a 2018 American superhero movie directed by the brothers Anthony and Joe Russo and is a sequel to Avengers: Age of Ultron. The screenplay was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely and incorporated concepts from Jim Starlin's The Infinity Gauntlet and Jonathan Hickman's Infinity stories.

After the events of Thor: Ragnarok, the Asgardians encounter Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his Black Order, who them proceed to kill at least half of them while grievously injuring the rest. Thanos is now in possession of the Power Stone (last seen in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1) and has ambushed the Asgardian refugees in search of the Tesseract, which had been left on Asgard after the first Avengers movie but had been saved from Ragnarok by Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Some time later the Guardians of the Galaxy encounter an unconscious Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and they hear of Thanos and his plans for conquest.

And thus the warning goes out to heroes around the galaxy Thanos is not coy about his desire to gather the stones to gain mastery over everything in the universe. His intentions, in his mind, are noble, but his methods are less than idea, to understate things. And naturally this worries Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is the current bearer of the Eye of Agamotto, which in turn containts the Time Stone. At least one other gem is known to be on Earth as well, this being the Mind Stone that gave life to the android Vision (Paul Bettany).

What I Liked: It's hard to talk about what I enjoyed most about this movie without getting too deep into spoiler territory, especially for a review that I'm releasing during the opening weekend. But what I can say is that the movie is brilliant in its complexity that remains easy enough to follow and not at all geekily convoluted. It's a movie with good ups and downs so that it's not exactly non-stop action - not that there aren't great action sequences (good gods, I loved Scotland). Like I said, it's a great balance of both.

I guess what I appreciate the most is that Thanos as a character gets a lot of on-screen character development, which is only fair as he's the larger unknown here. And this helps make him not feel like some generic villain, which has happened across some of the MCU movies. To some degree comic book heroes are measured by the villains that they face and this movie does a great job of setting up Thanos to be a force to be reckoned with.

As for our heroes, they get their respective moments in the spotlight more or less and it makes for great moments throughout. Sure not every character can be equally useful or relevant to the story, but they still have good time.

What Could Have Been Better: That said, a more complex Thanos also means a lot of time spent on justifying his actions and giving him direction. There was also an effort to sort of round him out and help make sense of things like the fact that Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is his adopted daughter. The explanations for these things are not the greatest and I'm not quite convinced that it was a good idea to introduce them into the story.

The story also takes place on multiple fronts and not all arcs are quite as good. I can't go into detail on this point, but believe me when I say the bulk of the action is with Thanos and rarely our heroes.

I also felt quite bad for the Black Order, the supposed children of Thanos. While I wasn't the biggest fans of them in the comics, I still felt they could have been better handled here. They are mostly used as fighters in this movie and are barely named so for the most part I don't think non-comic book fans watching the movie will know who they are. They're just just largely menacing in different ways and the fly around in giant donut ships. They're quite awesome as concepts and even when they fight but we just don't learn much about them in this movie.

TL;DR: Avengers: Infinity War is a geeky masterpiece that helps justify how we've all been watching these Marvel movies for 10 years now and it certainly makes for quite the effective payoff. Yes, the movie works better if you've watched a good number of the Marvel movies from recent years and YES, it is worth the effort to do so because how it all comes together is just wonderful, even though at the end of the day this is PART ONE of a story. And thus the movie gets a kickass 5 moments of massive superhero action out of a possible 5.

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