Disclaimer: This review contains mild spoilers for the movie Avengers: Infinity War
Touted as the most ambitious movie crossover in the history of film itself, featuring over 2 dozen of the some of the biggest names in the acting world, Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of the entire Marvel cinematic universe that has been established over the past 10 years. Just that sentence alone is enough to place the highest of expectations on anyone’s mind and I had very high expectations going into this cinematic experience.
I have been a Marvel fan since the early 90’s and I literally grew up with everything associated with it from video games to card games to comic books. I have avoided most fan theories and abstained from social media for the fear of spoilers for this film extravaganza. Therefore, my anticipation for this movie was at an all-time high, subdued only by the fact that there is a sequel to this mega blockbuster showdown of all time in the form of Avengers 4. So, how did the movie stack up to my expectations? Read on to find out.
BUILT AROUND A VILLAIN
If this movie had to be renamed, Thanos would be a fitting name. While the other 18 movies have focused on the character development arcs of their respective heroes, this entire movie is spent on fleshing out Thanos as both a villain as well as a character with unrivaled ambition. Having the entire movie revolve around Thanos himself is both a good and bad thing when it comes to storytelling, mainly because Marvel’s villains as a whole haven’t been exactly captivating in a villainous manner.
Its’s a good thing because the villain would act as the anchor of the movie, moving the plot forward as quickly as his determination would allow him to, very much like a pendulum. And unlike every other villain before him, whether it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe or otherwise, Thanos’ goal is not about total world domination or ruling the world, but it’s about preservation of the universe for the future generation (by culling half the population of the universe).
The purple titan showcases his brute strength within the initial 15 minutes of the movie, besting some of the strongest cast of the original Avengers without even breaking a sweat. No other villain has had that liberty just yet in the superhero cinematic mythos, exhibiting the sheer dominance of Thanos as an interstellar threat. However, halfway through the film, Thanos has to make a hefty sacrifice in order to complete his universe spanning quest of collecting the 6 Infinity Stones, the likes of which he has to showcase emotion and have his resolve shaken to the core.
Ultimately, having a heartless world sundering villain suddenly express tenderness is all too awkward when the movie sets him up to be the final boss of the entire saga so far. It felt jarring to an unreal degree as an action packed blockbuster chose to incorporate a touching moment involving the main baddie. Totally unnecessary in my opinion, or it should have been written in a better manner.
CROSS STITCHING OF PLOT LINES AND FRANCHISES
It is an impressive feat to set aside moments for over a dozen heroes in a 160 minute timeframe, discounting the few major characters that have yet to make an appearance. Infinity does that and more, packing in memorable one liners as well as great interactions between multiple characters that have opposing as well as similar views on the impending doom that is arriving on Earth. Notable standouts include the anti-hero pairing of the master of mysticism, Dr. Strange and the billionaire playboy genius, Tony Stark, the divergent comedic pairing of Thor and Star Lord and the paternal mentorship between Peter Parker and Tony Stark.
Stark and Strange both represent different aspects of the Marvel Universe which can be explored to a greater degree, one that can be a Marvel movie by itself. As Strange, who is representing the mystic arts, bickers with Stark, who utilizes the best technology to date, they both come to terms and cooperate in a very entertaining manner as both of their egos clash on the silver screen much to the delight of the audience.
Thor and Star Lord push the comedic scenes evident in both their respective franchises to new levels as they both put aside their differences for the greater good. Parker and Stark embody the soul of heroism as their relationship personifies mentorship and the future of the Avengers. Having all these great stories packed alongside Thanos’s long back story is phenomenal in its own right, but there are a few shortcomings.
The meeting of Banner and Black Widow could have used more screen time, Scarlett Witch and Vision could have used a bit less, the fractured frigid state of the Avengers is not addressed by the two conflicting coalitions of Captain America and Iron Man, and Black Panther and Bucky both having minor roles in the film despite their popularity, are all plotlines that could have been developed further as they were pivotal to the foundation of the Marvel Universe. While I feel these are missed opportunities, there is still time to seep these additional stories in the upcoming Infinity War sequel.
OF REFERENCES AND ACTION PACKED INCONSISTENT CGI
Some of the battle scenes in this movie feels like it has been plucked straight from the pages of a comic book, perfectly amalgamating teamwork and the cross combination of super powers. The CGI is top notch in those sequences, particularly Iron Man’s armor, Thanos’s physique, Dr. Strange’s mystic shields and Spider-Man’s exoskeleton suit.
The problem lies within the inconsistency of the CGI in every other part of the movie including the Hulkbuster CGI when the protective headgear is off, the arm of the Winter Soldier and others. While it is understandable that different studios are tasked with different parts of the film, the quality control should have been a lot tighter for a film of this magnitude and budget.
On the references end, there were a good number of references from the comic books, mainly drawing from The Infinity Gauntlet series and the Ultimate series, from Thor’s new costume and weapon, to Spider-Man giving Thanos web in his eyes. There are other key references but to state these would be major spoilers to those that have not watched the film yet.
GOOD, BUT NOT GREAT AND CERTAINLY NOT THE BEST
Lacing the action packed scenes is catchy one liners that the superheroes say to one another, akin to the comic books. Amidst the marvelously choreographed battle sequences, as you are on the edge of your seat, at the back of your mind you know that the stakes in this movie is at an all-time high. However, what doesn’t feel natural here is the teamwork between all the heroes, especially the newer ones. Ultimately, the movie fails to instill the care in us that the heroes have true trust and faith in one another during these dire times that earth is facing a crisis.
While boasting a cliffhanger ending of sorts, it did leave me wanting for more, but not to the extent of being an instant classic. Personally, I would have preferred that the movie ended with a sense of hope alongside the shock factor that has already been planned, as I believe that superheroes exemplify the parable of what we can and should do in the face of great adversity.
Final words: while the movie is good and the pacing of the story and juggling of subplots is perfect for a 2 hour 40 minute film, the culmination of it all feels too hollow for me. Plot holes notwithstanding, some of the heroic acts and sacrifices stand to be erased come the next Avengers movie, and that is why the weight of the consequences in this movie does not take a toll on the audiences’ conscience.
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