Avengers: Infinity War (****) doesn’t need our opinions (spoiler free review)

avengers-infinity-war-poster

Avengers: Infinity War – 2018

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo
Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring  Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Benicio Del Toro, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tom Hiddleston, Sebastian Stan, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff, Peter Dinklage, Karen Gillan, Idiris Alba, Josh Brolin

Pondering the fate of the universe is one of the pet projects of the ultimate villain, Thanos, as presented in Avengers: Infinity War. That contemplation is not exactly worth watching, especially when it requires watching the computer generated “nutsack” of a chin wandering about the galaxy. The task of creating this film is an unenviable one for the Russo brothers and their Captain America Trilogy writing partners, Markus and McFeely.  Given their stellar history together, in particular the last two films of said trilogy, I was more than willing to give them a try.

I have never been a fan of the inevitability of the Infinity Gauntlet story line in Marvel comics. To see Thanos dispatch many millions of lives with a thought, then torture others with the variety of powers at his disposal is boring on print. It’s like Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. The crime occurs in the first 5% of the book and the rest of it is punishment. Then its over. Hearing that they were splitting it into two parts made it seem, like most two-parters, that they are front loading with filler. Now we’re going to have to wait through two movies just to figure out what trick they pull out of the hat to conclude the original thought. With that unchangeable truth, this film could never be anything more than the filler, no matter what happens.

There is much destruction in this film, even before the screen arrives out of its initial darkness. So many civilizations laid to waste, there seems to be nothing but consequence. Like the comic upon which it is based, it is not long before nothing seems shocking anymore. Several characters get wonderful moments though, and it feels like a minor accomplishment if any of the bad guys get their own share of misery. This is the one thing the film has going for it, and they keep the pace going until the end.

For such a dour film, the humor is well placed. The one liners are within the makeup of each character and don’t seem to exist outside the events of the plot. If you are a fan of any or all of these characters, you won’t be disappointed with the effort they’re allowed to put forth in the fight for the good.

The biggest things the film has going against it are two:

  1. Thanos is boring as hell. Whatever you do with him, he’s still Josh Brolin with a bunch of animated clay about him. I found myself wandering through the screen in his scenes looking for anything to pique my interest. His underlings make things interesting for quite a while, and the characters he works with act their asses off. This is not any sort of Star Wars prequel level animation when you know that someone is staring at a tennis ball with ears trying to pretend its Jar Jar. The cast, particularly Saldana’s Gamora, work incredibly well against this losing situation.
  2. Really, does any of this matter? Who lives, who dies? Sure they make it interesting, but anyone who knows the release schedule of the upcoming films knows that anyone was fair game before the next Avengers film. They might have a good idea who’s going to help out in part two as well. There is nothing they could do, outside of total extinction of all of the Avengers that could not be reversed in the next film. This was known since the Avengers film initiatives were announced.

Still, even despite it all, I quite like this film. They push the cast to the limit with effects that (outside of Thanos) work incredibly well. I very much enjoy the Black Order, in particular, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Ebony Maw. There is an unrelenting ladder of pain in this film, and it’s nice to see the good guys sweat and bleed a little, even if they never get to the crying…outside of Wanda. She’s always crying.

There is nothing else to say beyond this. You know what you’re getting when you walk in to the theater. This is less a review than a complaint about the inevitability of it all. Still, the only way you can be disappointed is if you know how meaningless it all is…or if you think they’re never making another movie.

Here’s a hint: stay through the credits.

(**** out of *****)

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