Movie Review: Avengers – Infinity War

Yep, spinning up the old template for my first movie review in almost two years (My last one was Suicide Squad – ew). I got sick of people asking.
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Starring:
Just a lot of people
Director:
Anthony & Joe Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War)
Rating: M
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Hi. Yes, I’m reviewing this Big Deal of a movie thanks to the requests of some lovely people who read my older stuff back in the day and I’m really quite flattered but it’s been a long time since I’ve put a score on something and the functional purpose of this blog has changed and I’ve changed and to be honest I feel like I can’t really put enough of my own spin on a review format like this enough to justify using my limited free time to do in-depth film reviews that will become out-of-date extremely quickly anymore but alas, I ignored enough people by not reviewing Star Wars: The Last Jedi last year and well, here we are.

Now why open a review like that? After all, if you’re reading this in the far-flung future you probably don’t care about my state of mind regarding reviews circa early May 2018. No sir. However, it seems quite apt to talk about the futility of following the structure of a scored review (which I’m doing anyway) when talking about this movie in particular, because Joe and Anthony Russo‘s Avengers: Infinity War is not concerned in the slightest with sticking to a recognisable blockbuster narrative structure. Also, no matter the score, it’s clear people will go see it anyway (Hello biggest worldwide opening weekend ever).

Indeed, Infinity War doesn’t so much have a beginning, middle and end – an Act 1, Act 2, Act 3 – as it has one extremely long Act 3 that is also somehow the middle of a story. It’s difficult to explain how without hurtling headlong into spoiler territory but perhaps it’s best put this way: If you’ve seen a few Marvel Cinematic Universe films in your day, you’re likely quite familiar with the way they tend to leave one or two things – relevant or tangential – up in the air, slinging out a sequel hook or two and leaving things feeling perpetually unfinished. Even if each movie sticks to its own reliable, satisfying plot structure and gives you plenty of entertaining moments, there is always more coming and you sure as hell know it. You with me?

OK, now with Infinity War, chop that satisfying plot structure into three parts, throw the first two parts in the trash, stretch out the bit you have left and sprinkle it with about ten times the amount of entertaining moments as usual. Then dial that unfinished feeling up way past eleven to the point where you feel both winded and utterly desperate for the next chapter, instead of merely curious. Oh yeah, you can put a low-key satisfying plot structure back into the movie. But this time, only give it to the villain.

That’s right. Thanos, purple space man and veteran of Marvel movie foreshadowing, somehow turns out to be a presence worthy of all the build-up. As played by Josh Brolin and realised by some very talented CGI-mongers, the most powerful villain in the MCU thus far also has a strong claim to the title of its best. That’s no small achievement. Boasting an arc sharing plenty of similarities with your average celluloid superhero – complete with origin story, a seemingly noble cause and plenty of hurdles to overcome – Thanos is simultaneously relatable, awe-inspiring and utterly despicable. Nowhere is this more perfectly executed than in one particularly raw scene involving two other characters that I really wish I could talk about here in more detail. Rest assured it will come up again by the end of the year. In many ways, Infinity War is Thanos’ movie.

Of course he isn’t the only character in the movie – not by the longest shot. There is still that matter of all those 20+ other characters meeting, fighting against and alongside one another, splitting off, coming together, throwing shade, pulling off sweet team-up moves – all at a hundred miles an hour in one giant movie-length final battle against a literal Marvel titan and his shockingly capable sidekicks. How can this insanity possibly work? It shouldn’t, after all. But here, somehow, it can – and in my opinion definitely does – with one gigantic caveat. You need to have seen the vast majority of the Marvel movies that got us to this point, because with one notable exception the characters of Infinity War do not do a lot of stopping to explain who they are or what they’ve been doing recently. Infinity War goes all-in at a rather exclusive card table with a considerable entry fee – though admittedly one sitting inside a very popular casino. The result, in the hands of such skilled players as those responsible here, is one spectacularly entertaining card game packing by far the highest stakes yet seen in all the MCU.

Things certainly happen in this movie, and you’re never more than a few minutes away from the next all-star head-to-head introduction, hilarious dialogue exchange, badass musical motif or seriously stressful confrontation. If you have been at all invested in the MCU over the last decade or so, this movie will juggle your positive and negative emotional responses with reckless, downright irresponsible abandon. Opinions on which characters are used the best or worst throughout will vary wildly from person to person (There are just so many of them) and, as has been said many times all over the internet already, your pre-existing favouritism among the principle cast will likely colour your opinion on the movie. Again, the score here hardly matters . You’ve probably already seen this movie or have tickets ready if you’re reading this. The MCU story is still definitively without a full stop. But not since the first Avengers movie has such a simple approach to plot (“Stop that guy, at all costs”) allowed for such a dynamic, explosive, draining ride.
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THE VERDICT

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Good: New gold standard of MCU villainy, absolutely unrelenting pace, endlessly entertaining character interactions
Bad: Haven’t seen the other recent Marvel movies? You’re stranded.
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4.5 VsI N C R E D I B L E

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