Movie Review: ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo
Cast: Not Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd. It’ll take to long to write the actual cast list.
Plot: Thanos, a madman leading a giant army, is searching for the six Infinity Stones. These artefacts will give him god-like powers, which he will use to kill half the life in the universe. As some members of the Avengers hold these stones they get put in Thanos’ crosshairs.
Review: Right…obviously we’re a bit late with this review…but I’d booked a trip to Disneyland and they moved the release date. But we got back yesterday and rushed out to see this years biggest movie event. If you don’t want spoilers, I will just say that the audience was looking pretty stunned after the screening. It succeeds in evoking the scale that an event like this demands.
Now…SPOILERS from this point.
I’m not kidding.
Heimdall dies first. See? Spoilers.
With so many characters to juggle, and the Avengers being disassembled after Civil War, the main story thread follows Thanos himself. When the movie opens he already has the Power Stone, taken from the Nova Corps on Xander, and has destroyed the Asgardian ship from the end of Thor: Ragnorak looking for the Space Stone. We’ve never actually seen Thanos do anything in the 20+ movies that have come before, and his strength is quickly established when he single handedly beats the snot out of Thor AND Hulk. In a dying gesture Heimdall opens the Bifrost and teleports Hulk back to Earth to warn them of what is coming.
For the forgetful among you: the Reality Stone was last seen in the hands of The Collector, the Time Stone is guarded by Doctor Strange, the Mind Stone is implanted in Vision’s forehead and the Soul Stone is unknown. Thanos sends his Black Order to Earth with powerful telekinetic Ebony Maw and brute Cull Obsidian targeting Doctor Strange and fighters Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight looking for Vision. Thanos himself heads for Knowhere to confront The Collector. As they are largely caught unawares and unorganised the superheroes wind up divided in their efforts to stop him.
Iron Man teams with Doctor Strange, Wong, Bruce Banner and Spider-man to fight Ebony Maw and Obsidian Cull in New York before using the alien’s ship to attack Thanos directly. Captain America (now sporting the name Nomad), Black Widow and Falcon meet Vision and Scarlet Witch in Scotland to fight Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight. Thor is rescued from the wreckage of Asgard by the Guardians of the Galaxy, and teams with Rocket and Groot to forge a new weapon while Star-Lord, Drax, Mantis and Gamora head to Knowhere. After their initial conflicts all the Earth-bound heroes meet in Wakanda to form a final line of defence of the Mind Stone.
The biggest surprise of the movie is how effectively they develop Thanos as an…understandable villain. The MCU has always had a problem with making their villains anything more than megalomaniac punching bags, but lately they’ve learned to give their baddies some real motivation. Thanos’ homeworld, Titan, was an advanced society on a planet with diminishing resources. Thanos suggested culling a random 50% of the population and was declared insane. After watching his planet reduced to ruins he took to the wider universe on a mission to kill half of every population. He sees this as striking a balance with nature for the greater good, and is determined to use the Infinity Stones to complete this task on a cosmic scale.
In addition to his great strength and strategic intelligence this fervent belief in his ideology is what makes Thanos such a great villain. He sees his quest as a burden, something he has to make sacrifices for to create a better universe. He’s committed to his cause for the same reason the Avengers are committed to theirs – it’s just that he’s insane. He goes to extraordinary lengths to complete his goal, including destroying what he loves most.
But…there’s always that knowledge in the back of our minds that they can’t REALLY go to the logical ending to this battle. Sure, Thanos is collecting the powers of a literal god but the good guys will prevail at the end. The more the conflict builds and builds and Thanos becomes more and more powerful it increasingly feels that ANY resolution is going to be a cop-out. Some ‘the strength was in you all along’ nonsense or ‘it was an illusion all along’ cliche. Thor is off with giant Peter Dinklage to get a weapon he could use to kill Thanos, he’ll show up in the nick of time. Hulk has been refusing to manifest after Thanos beat him unconscious, he’ll pop up at the last minute. Credit to the film-makers, they establish Thanos as an undefeatable menace with the powers of a god and they deliver just that. He is to big a threat for all the super-heroes combined to stop. Guess we’re waiting another year to see how the meagre few left standing can turn things around.
Is it a perfect superhero film? Pretty close. It achieves a scale that we haven’t seen before and may not see again, as the MCU has been an extended case of well curated lighting in a bottle. Few films will have ten years and 20+ movies of backstory to build on. Because of the cast some characters do get short-changed. The Black Order – Thanos’ henchmen – are a collection of gimmicks with personality. Key characters like Hawkeye get a passing mention and make no appearance. The emotional crux of the film lies in the relationship between Scarlet Witch and Vision, and that’s only been set up in the background of Civil War. Given the importance this romance is given in the final act we really haven’t seen it develop on screen enough for us to really feel the weight of the scene. Hell, even the logistics of it aren’t explained enough (he is a bloody robot, after all).
Oh, and I would’ve liked to see The Defenders at least score a cameo. Maybe also Wolverine. Jackman said he was up for it.
The film doesn’t give us the character development or the emotional weight of some past films, most notably Civil War, but it’s effective enough. The finale did leave the audience speechless. And it’s pure spectacle. We have something like 25 major superhero characters constructed perfectly on the big screen together. We thought it was a tall order when The Avengers was announced. By comparison this is pure madness. Back in the 90s all superhero movies were terrible. Then we started getting movies made by people who understood the comics and the characters and started doing them right. Within ten years they’ve refined the process to the point that a pretty major slice of the Marvel comics line-up can stand together on the big screen and no-one has to complain about the characters being done wrong.
Rating: NINE out of TEN
P.S. There’s a really kick-ass scene with Scarlet Witch, Black Panther and Okoye fighting side by side. It’s awesome. Will you bastards give one or all of these women their own movie already.