Avengers Infinity War Review

Avengers Infinity War is the biggest superhero flick ever made. Despite reviewers and pundits constantly assuring us that superhero fatigue is right around the corner, superhero movies keep breaking records at the box office and dragging in heaping mountains of cash, regardless of if the movies are pretty great (Black Panther) or pretty middling (Justice League/every DC movie except Wonder Woman). With that in mind, is Avengers Infinity War a big superhero movie, or is it a good big superhero movie, deserving of all this hype?

Keep reading for a spoiler-free review.

This movie is above all about choice; which ones are available to us, which ones we create for ourselves, and which ones we make in the face of extreme difficulty and duress, both emotional and physical. Thanos (played by Josh Brolin) is the surprising star of this film, and especially when compared to, say, Justice League's growly, "I will make you scream" villain Steppenwolf, Thanos comes across as a complete character. Vicious, brutal, deadly, sure, but by movie's end, even if you don't agree one hundred percent with his methods, you have to agree they are, in a certain light, "correct". 

In the words of the immortal Big Lebowski, "you're not wrong, you're just an asshole."

The tension is raised organically and it's done well; perhaps I keep wanting to make Justice League comparisons because I just re-watched it yesterday (or maybe because The Avengers & Justice League are almost required to follow identical blueprints by design), but it's done in a way that Justice League failed to do. As a main villain, Thanos explains himself almost every step of the way, and we actually see what he's doing and why. Steppenwolf just... didn't like people, as told in a quick plot dump by Wonder Woman, who is basically telling Batman (and the audience) a scary bedtime story so the plot makes sense. Steppenwolf  wanted to burn the world to nothing because being bad feels sooooooo good, which is pretty much the most shallow and stupid motivation you can have, like a kid saying he won't try a new dish because "because". That's not a real excuse Timmy. You are a little friggin brat. Thanos may be a madman, but he has reason, purpose, and due to a well-delivered speech by Brolin, emotional connections from his past that spur him forward. Steppenwolf had a glowy axe and a shitty attitude. 

Aside from the big "Wakanda vs CGI beasties war" part of the film which I knew I wouldn't care about anyways (it reminded me a bit of the Phantom Menace Gungans vs droids scene, where we all know it's pretty unnecessary, but hey, we need to show these characters doing something"), the fight scenes were well done, even if some of the choices were a little odd, like including Star-Lord in a battle against Thanos, because twin pistols and a jet-pack are doing to stop a mad Titan with control over all space and time. Then again, what can you expect? Walking into the theater, you know there has to be humor (there is, and it works), there has to be unusual pair-ups (not as many as I would have liked, but there are some, and they're good) and there has to be big, bombastic action (there is, and it's fine). While admittedly the only fight I really remember with a lot of clarity was the final climactic battle, I do remember being satisfied anytime the heroes put up their dukes, whether they were fighting Thanos, CGI aliens, each other, or the environment itself. The plot moves the action and the action moves the plot, with zings and zippy rejoiners everywhere in between. It's definitely an Avengers movie.

What's great about this film is that despite some obvious bloat (too much Guardians of the Galaxy for my taste, a few minor plot lines I could have done without), these characters have been done so well, and Marvel has plotted these films so beautifully, that even crammed into one nearly three hour film, it's hard to get bored or bogged down with the characters, because we know these people. We've seen bad mistakes made by the GOG. We've seen Tony Stark make questionable choices but then stick to them, even if he was afraid he was potentially making a colossal mistake (any time your choices put you at odds with Captain America, you know you may have screwed up somewhere). We've seen the toll that the decisions Cap made in Civil War take on him, the team, even Wanda and Vision. We've seen Bucky go from being a "who cares" type of character to someone we are invested in. These characters have been lived in, given space to breathe, and become old friends, both among themselves and to us. Now, we see them take on Thanos, and the magic trick Marvel pulls here is to allow us to see and understand the choices that led Thanos to where he is today, at odds with our favorite flawed but heroic characters. Thanos' plan works in a "would you kill Hitler as a baby to save millions?" type of way, but Thanos has the balls to kill the baby, the baby's parents, and then burn down the entire neighborhood. Even though the cost of achieving his purpose is high, he pays it because he knows he must. Just like the Avengers do.

I enjoyed this film and you probably will too. There are surprises in store for you, solid fight scenes, and you get to see all your favorite characters, presented in a way that feels a bit like coming home. If you hate this series, Infinity War won't bring you into the fold. If you like these films, Avengers Infinity War will give you more of what you want in some occasionally surprising ways, and a new direction for the MCU as well.


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2018-05-16 14:06:21... -