Film, Film Review

REVIEW: Avengers: Infinity War (2018) dir. Anthony & Joe Russo

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Avengers: Infinity War is a bombastic denouement for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

After ten years and eighteen movies, the climax of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here. Avengers: Infinity War, which brings the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy together for the first time, manages to live up to the hype and provides a shockingly coherent experience. This is essentially the platonic ideal of these kinds of movies, and the sort that Justice League wishes it could be. It’s not going to win any new converts, but longtime fans of the MCU will be more than pleased.

Infinity War, the nineteenth film in the saga that began with 2008’s Iron Man, focuses on the quest of a massive purple alien called Thanos (Josh Brolin, imbuing the role with bizarre empathy), who believes it is his sole duty to balance the universe. He plans to do this by collecting the six Infinity Stones, which have been the focus of more than a few of the previous MCU films. With the power of these stones, he can rewrite reality and kill anyone in his way. The Avengers, including Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and new recruits such as Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther, try to prevent this from happening before it’s too late.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo smartly split the twenty-odd characters into several groups. Thor spends most of his time with Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Tony Stark clashes egos with Doctor Strange and Star-Lord while Peter Parker tries his best. Captain America tries to protect the android Vision (who has an Infinity Stone for a brain) with the help of Bruce Banner, Black Widow, Bucky Barnes, and box office champion T’Challa in Wakanda. These groupings keep the plot moving at a nice clip for a 160 minute movie.

The true protagonist of the film, it can be argued, is Thanos. His quest dominates the runtime of the film, and we get to see his anguish over this quest that he believes is just. The Marvel movies, to put it lightly, usually have awful villains (can you even name the dude from Civil War?). Thanos actually comes across as a threat, and Brolin’s performance manages to shine through the CGI.

There’s nothing quite like seeing a decade of storytelling actually pay off. There are deaths, new team-ups, jokes, and some surprising emotional beats. It’s not all successful – there’s an attempt to build a relationship between Thanos and Gamora that doesn’t feel earned, and some of the jokes are a bit hokey, but it’s hard to complain when we get to see characters as disparate as Bucky Barnes and Rocket Raccoon team up to fight aliens in Wakanda. There’s dozens of moments where you can help but say “Oh, awesome.” And isn’t that the point?

My feelings about this movie will depend on how the still-untitled Avengers 4 sticks the landing after such an intense cliffhanger. AND we still have Ant-Man and The Wasp and Captain Marvel to get through before the TRUE finale. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is truly unique, even if their movies tend to repeat plot points and character arcs. In a way, I’m almost more excited to see what sorts of movies will come after Thanos is finally taken down. There’s a whole universe of possibilities.

Avengers: Infinity War
2018
dir. Anthony & Joe Russo
149 min.

Now playing everywhere (though the Hassle recommends the Capitol or your local mom & pop cineplex)

 

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