Avengers: Infinity War, 2018.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo.
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Brolin, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Don Cheadle, Peter Dinklage, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Karen Gillan, Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Carrie Coon, Pom Klementieff, Terry Notary, Sean Gunn, Benedict Wong, Benicio del Toro, Gwyneth Paltrow, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, and Stan Lee.
Having finally had enough of his underlings failing to take down Marvel’s assortment of superheroes, Thanos (Josh Brolin) decides to take matters into his own gauntlet sporting hands, by collecting the remaining Infinity Stones in order to wreak havoc in the universe.
It’s all been leading to this. Through the highs of Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, and the lows of Thor: The Dark World and Iron Man 2, Marvel’s ambitious landscape changing jigsaw puzzle has arrived at the culmination of its eighteen-year plan. For fans of the trading card collections worth of superheroes on display, this is an event movie in the mold of the The Phantom Menace opening night, and for them it’s a triumphant juggling act full of more spine-tingling Spidey-sense moments than even Peter Parker could handle. For the average cinemagoer, who’s dipped in and out of these billion dollar blockbusters since 2008’s Iron Man, you’ll find a thrilling, funny, somewhat strange movie, that’s not without its flaws, but rewards your investment in this universe.
It’s a universe under threat, which brings us straight to one of the most impressive aspects of Avengers: Infinity War, and that’s Josh Brolin’s one-man monolith; Thanos. Layered in a way that you might not have expected from a character that could have been one-note, his villainous plan is given meaning, a twisted logic behind a genocidal proposal. He’s cruel, smart, and at times belies the fact he’s a giant purple CG action figure, and this is largely thanks to Brolin’s performance emanating from beneath the effects. In short, Thanos is a right evil bastard.
The strength of his character and the overwhelming threat that he carries provides a platform for other members of the MCU to thrive, most notably Zoe Saldana’s Gamora. Infinity War sets her free as a character, allowing Saldana the chance to deliver some of the most emotionally driven scenes in the film. So much of why the overreaching arc of Thanos works is due to the strength of her performance.
While we’re on the subject of the Guardians of the Galaxy, they get a fair chunk of the movie, and despite the odds that are at stake, provide some much needed levity amongst the planet chucking and bejeweled fist clenching. In fact, the entire film is terrifically funny, particularly Thor’s interactions with the Guardians, Spider-Man’s pop culture references, and the beard-off between Doctor Strange (a prominent and excellent Cumberbatch) and Tony Stark.
The sheer scale of the operation meant that some characters were always going to get short shrift, with your enjoyment of the location hopping first half of the movie largely dictated by whichever collective you’re currently spending time with. Most disappointing of all is how little we get of Captain America and his fugitive crew. As a side-effect, so many potential emotional beats are lost among the desire to provide plot momentum, or head to the adventures of the next set of characters, and those who don’t show up at all are simply name checked in order to appease social media ire.
With so many moving parts, it was always going to be a challenging juggernaut to steer, so credit must go to Anthony and Joe Russo for making a 150 min Top Trumps incarnate, that only really drags before the Star Wars style air/ground final battle kicks in.
To discuss the film in any further detail would be akin to revealing to Thanos where an Infinity Stone was hidden, and after seeing what a great job they finally did with a villain, that thought is a terrifying one.
As spectacular as you might expect, it’s actually the quieter moments amongst the bombast that leave the most indelible marks. For those who’ve waited a decade for Avengers: Infinity War, multiple geekgasms are ensured. For those without a predilection for everything Marvel, it’s no masterpiece, simply a damn fine piece of entertainment.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★