Avengers: Infinity War

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Review: The Dark Is Rising

'Avengers: Infinity War'

Movie Rating:

4

It’s been a long ride bringing us to ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. A dozen or so films have served as puzzle pieces leading us here, with disparate characters from all over the galaxy uniting to confront the baddie of all baddies, Thanos.

I’ll say straight up that for this non-obsessive (about this comic book stuff, at least), it’s been difficult to keep all the details straight (which one’s the witch, again?), but the film does a pretty decent job of reminding viewers what took place without spending too much time on exposition.

One of the biggest challenges for all these ensemble gatherings is to find time within the smorgasbord of superheroics for each element to shine, something that was never particularly successful in previous entries. The writers this time seem to have a better hand with the tonal shifts in plot, matched by the character appearances, making the jostling of attention in keeping with the nature of the plot. Rather than wasting our time watching heroes engaged in useless fisticuffs, we get pointed banter, which is a far better way of making sure our attention is focused on the main baddie rather than empty internecine silliness.

My major issue with the past group of films is that they often had very little in the way of consequence or sacrifice. (Have a messed-up Hawkeye murder Nick Fury in the first ‘Avengers’ and I forgive almost all of its maddening aspects.) The Russo brothers have eschewed such delicacies and given us the darkest iteration by far, one that may even be difficult for general audiences to stomach without the inevitable reversals to come in future films. As a standalone piece where we only have conjecture of what will happen later, this really does serve as an ‘Empire Strikes Back’-like downer, where the characters are left worse off than when they began and all hope appears lost.

It’s a bold strategy, and despite the bloated running time and certain needless elements, we’re treated to, dare we say, an almost adult tale of sacrifice, responsibility and humility. Even Thanos is given more dimensionality than just a big dumb baddie, and the work is all the better for it. It’s a mature vision of this world fueled by all that’s come before. Past success has made some room for risk of audience alienation, allowing things to get this dark before lightness shines once again.

The strongest of the individual pieces continue to be the best of the standalone films – the playfulness of the Guardians, the brashness of Thor, the master/ward dynamic between Iron Man and Spidey. Others fit less elegantly, including newly minted megahero Black Panther, who takes a lesser role that may be off-putting for those only signing-on to the MCU recently. Some battles bizarrely break down on gender lines, but even they play fairly well and without overstepping their welcome.

By having to cram in so much, narrative beats aren’t allowed to fester, thus making the long-ish film feel pretty invigorating for the most part. It still manages moments of quiet and reflection, but doesn’t waste too much time on mega-battles save for the close of the second act. When it begins to wrap, and the results become clearer, we’re in for some pretty exceptional genre storytelling, messing with audience expectations in pretty delightful ways.

The film’s central visual metaphor – that integrating these disparate storylines manifests in actual disintegration – makes this cliffhanger (with plenty of bodies littered in the valley below) feel both ambitious and somewhat cold. It’s clear, however, that there’s a great deal of deliberate plotting here, a well worked-out plan that allows us to feel like we may be at the bottom, but have pieces in place to climb out of it in future installments.

This is ‘Avengers: Disassemble’, a dark but deliberate film that, despite some flaws, is easily the best group flick that Marvel has yet produced. Seeing it now, when we don’t yet know how the story will be made right, just might make for an anxious time in the cinema. Given how rarely we’re required to have any complex emotions with these films, feeling some existential angst from this motley crew is no small victory.

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14 comments

  1. Ryan

    Hopefully seeing this over the weekend, by myself….everyone I know is going late Thursday Night, but with work and a child at home, I can’t join.

  2. Jason Gorber
    Author

    I tried hard to avoid spoilers, for what it’s worth. But do welcome discussion after you’ve seen the film!

  3. Chaz Dumbaugh

    Seeing it Saturday, havent really run into anything other than it being a cliffhanger ending, which I think most of us could have guessed that a long time ago being that this was originally in 2 parts. Seems like most people have been very good not to spoil things in headlines or anything, I stay out of everything else 🙂

  4. Ryan

    Go into it knowing nothing! Don’t read any reviews or talk to ur friends! The payoff is that much better! Non of the film is what u expect it to be!

  5. My spoiler-free reaction:

    The movie is HIGHLY entertaining; however, it’s not much of a “movie” in the traditional sense. What do I mean? I mean this movie relies maybe 90% or better on viewers having knowledge (and pretty significant knowledge) of most of the other Marvel films. Aside from Thanos, there is zero characterization in the movie, and the film doesn’t follow the “typical” plotting of a movie – meaning there is really no beginning, build up, climax, conclusion. It’s nearly all climax.

    Given its structure (and I feel the need to repeat here that I DID like the film…although it wouldn’t be in my top 5 Marvel titles…I feel the first Avengers, along with the first Iron Man, The Winter Solider, the first Guardians of the Galaxy, Civil War, and, of course, Black Panther, are all better titles), I’m wondering if this film will drop off faster at the box office than other Marvel movies have…it’s a fun viewing, but given it’s rather somber ending (that’s as spoilerific as I’ll get), I think only the “die hards” are going to be rushing out for multiple screenings.

    • Chaz Dumbaugh

      Everyone I’ve seen posting about it on Twitter are already seeing it more than once, it broke box office records for opening and is already over half way to a billion worldwide in ONE weekend, I’m going again on Tuesday and yes, to me, its the best of the bunch…..to fault it at all for not being a “movie” in the traditional sense just doesnt make sense with what Marvel has done cinematically, if you havent been following Marvel films for a decade and decide to just go into this, thats your fault, not the movies so I dont feel its fair to bring any negativity towards the film that way. This is an ultimate payoff to 10 years of film making, nothing has ever worked like this in cinema before and honestly, this movie shouldnt work as well as it does, 2 hour and 40 minute run time flies by fast, this movie is everything most MCU fans hoped it could be.

      Black Panther and Civil War were fine movies, nothing more, Guardians, Winter Soldier and Iron Man are much better films than those two, but Infinity War is the culmination of it all and Thanos is the best villain in the whole MCU because of how they handled him here, none of the other movies pulled that off, as much as I could relate to Killmonger, he was still a weak villain with hardly any backstory

      • AMMAN SHIRD

        I haven’t seen the movie, yet (going tomorrow) and I agree with the majority of your comments. However, I take issue about Killmonger being a weak villain; from a cinematic standpoint and if you’ve never read the comics, I could see how you came to that conclusion. But, for those of us who’ve followed the “Panther’s Rage” story arc from the original “Jungle Action” series from Marvel (re-issued in the Marvel Masterworks line, in case you’re interested), Killmonger is far from being weak given the numerous times he came close to actually killing T’Challa in the comics (you are right about the backstory, though; not much else going aside from revenge for his royal heritage).

        • Chaz Dumbaugh

          Yeah I wasnt speaking of weak in that sense, the movie makes it pretty obvious that he isnt weak at all….just we are left with 20 years of nothing about him, shows up all grown and is angry and killed a ton of people working for the government, I love though how the government didnt really seem to have any issues with him, he’s that maniacal, marks his body up like that and nothing was ever done about him? Kind of weird but overall, he’s the best one since Loki easy, his motivations make sense even though they are thin, but ultimately, he’s nothing compared to what Marvel has done with Thanos 🙂

      • I would think those posting on Twitter ARE the die-hard fanbase. I was speaking more of “Joe Moviegoer”. The kind that went to see Jumanji and Black Panther multiple times.

        • Chaz Dumbaugh

          People probably went to see both of those movies more than once because they are actually good, those are poor examples IMO. Jumanji I’ve already watched at home 3 times, its a total blast, I’ll be buying up Black Panther just like all of the other Marvel movies, its an excellent film and makes sense as to why people went back to see it again, for African Americans, its a milestone movie and I’m sure there were plenty that werent seeing it only once

  6. Thulsadoom

    Having missed this at the cinema, my other half and I finally got round to buying and watching it (in 3D). Wow… what a mess. I’m glad we didn’t pay to see this at the cinema. I’m quite honestly amazed at how many good reviews it’s been getting. It’s disturbingly close to ‘Last Jedi’ level bad (but not quite… that would still take some work). There’s no real plot to speak of, things just seem to happen ‘because’, any sense of logic or consistency goes out the window (And that’s in comparison to most of the other Marvel movies, which are hardly that great in the logic stakes in the first place!), power levels constantly change to fit a particular scene, rather than match what has been established for characters previously, etc., etc…..

    To top it all off, after all the build up, Thanos turns out to be one of the least interesting Marvel villains, with face-palm-inducing ‘woke’ motivation.

    The only good thing I’ll say, is that it manages what most Marvel movies usually manage: the character interaction and banter is fun for the most part, and amusing. Oh, and most of the effects are good (except for Banner pointlessly in the Hulk-buster).

    To be honest, despite its very obvious flaws (and a certain top lip deserving second billing), I actually found Justice League more enjoyable. I geniunely began falling asleep at the end of Inifinity War. Such a shame and a wasted opportunity after the build up of so many movies.

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