Updated: May 3, 2018 3:29:14 pm
The Russo brothers must have known that they had their task cut out when they were brought in to helm Avengers: Infinity War. A massive undertaking that brings together pretty much every superhero who’s appeared in the preceding 18 films in the franchise, Infinity War is also the first Marvel film with real stakes. Two dozen superheroes stand between the intergalactic tyrant Thanos and annihilation of half the universe. And they may not be enough.
For the first time in a Marvel film, one feels genuinely scared for beloved characters. A fan-favourite is killed off early, and it is almost inconsequential in the grander scheme of things. Such is the scale and ambition here. If one were to judge it on its merits alone, it would crumble. But Avengers: Infinity War is not meant to be judged independently. It sells itself on the immense buildup.
As the title indicates, Infinity War is about the war for the Infinity Stones, great objects of power that contain the essence of the universe. Thanos wants them snugly studded in his gauntlet, and superheroes try to prevent that from happening. In the wake of Civil War, the Avengers are still divided and different factions fight off Thanos and his minions in different locations. It helps give a sense of the gigantic scope that Marvel is aiming at.
All the major superheroes get ample screen time. Iron Man, Star-Lord, Thor, Doctor Strange and Captain America are the major ‘good guys’. The interplay between characters is quite fun and engaging. There is a great deal of trademark Marvel humour and one-liners. Infinity War may be the darkest Marvel film, but it is not devoid of joy. The action is unrelenting, though that’s not necessarily a good thing. It assaults your senses every few minutes with fabulous visuals and it still feels underwhelming. The Black Order members, menacing lieutenants of the Mad Titan, are criminally underused and seem underpowered.
The highlight of this film is Thanos, a Herculean strongman obsessed with balance in all things. He is a solid physical presence but his plan is infuriatingly simple – to bully his way through. He is brought to life so spectacularly by Josh Brolin that attempts to make him look sympathetic look desperate and unnecessary. Shallow, generic bad guys with unconvincing motivations aren’t interesting, but trying to make a genocidal nutjob like Thanos ‘complex’ is problematic.
So that’s it. Avengers: Infinity War is full of entertaining little parts that somehow do not make a compelling whole. It is a phantasmagoria of stunning action sequences and beautifully poignant moments that nevertheless leaves one cold in the end. A veritable horde of characters are fiddled around pretty ably and almost everybody gets their due. To sum up, Infinity War is not the best Marvel film but then telling a largely logical story with 67 characters is in itself an achievement.
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