It’s really hard to review Avengers: Infinity War while meeting two criteria: 1) No Spoilers and 2) Not just typing WOW over and over again. Well I will do the first for sure, and hopefully manage the second. I will point out a few things that are known before you see the movie, but if you consider those spoilers, I can’t help you.
The movie runs at 2 and a half hours. That’s a very long movie. It didn’t at all feel like it. In my experience, that’s always a good sign. There is an end credit scene. It’s just one, but it’s important. They also do something clever with the actual credits just before it. Well, two things, really.
For general set up: bear in mind that two Avengers go into this movie without their signature weapons. It’s a huge cast, with a big story to tell. A lot of this is set up, with at least some of the payoff coming in part two, next year (WE HAVE TO WAIT A YEAR???!!!) Two minor pet peeves I had going into this, one a question from the otherwise perfect Black Panther, and one a cosmetic change in one of the characters, are never addressed. Then again, there’s a lot going on. Some characters I hoped to see, I didn’t. Some I didn’t really expect to, I did.
Dealing with the movie itself, as best I can with those two criteria from the opening paragraph again: they pick up the plot threads from when we last saw most of these characters really well. The over-all continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to impress me, aside from the growing rift between the movies and the small screen projects. It’s well-named, in that it’s a war. Don’t expect everyone to make it through. They establish that from the first scene forward.
Watching the character interactions is great, as always. Even with a lot of really dark things going on, there are some great one-liners, and some characters dealing with each other that was great to see. Especially interesting to watch, for me at least, was Dr. Strange and Tony Stark. There were a lot of other interesting groupings and pairings, of course, as the movie goes from a few places in space to New York City (naturally) to Scotland to Wakanda.
For anyone who has read the comics or been paying attention during the last ten years worth of movies, it’s not news that Thanos wants the Infinity Stones, each one an amazingly powerful artefact. We’ve seen several of them, and know how important they are to certain characters. What we learn in the movie is why he wants them, what horrific task he’s set on, and even why he’s doing it. The best villains are not only the heroes of their own stories, as the saying goes, but have a motivation that, while you might not agree with it, you can understand it. Killmonger in the record-shattering Black Panther was like that, as is Negan on The Walking Dead. Thanos is bent on something horrible, but there’s a why to it.
What happens along the way is impressive, as heroes meet for the first time, team up in unexpected groups, clash with Thanos and his henchmen, and, yes, die. It’s a war. Not everyone comes home in a war. The heroes have a few desperate plans, which are thwarted by, in different cases on different worlds, lack of time and emotional reactions. The ending of this movie surprised the hell out of me. I’ve been reading comics since the mid 1980’s, and have seen all the Marvel Studios Movies, most more than once. I had theories and ideas going into this, and I was wrong on every point.
Infinity War is a highly enjoyable movie. At times surprising, at times heartbreaking, but incredibly well done. The effects are amazing, the characters are entertaining and understandable, and the balance shouldn’t be forgotten. They had a HUGE cast of characters in this movie, one that’s taken ten years to build up. Everyone gets some screen time, everyone gets to do something, plot threads from earlier movies are touched on, not glossed over. I will say this, though: When you leave a Marvel movie, the crowd, especially on opening night, is buzzing with excitement, with fan talk, with “Hey, did you see…” kind of moments. As many people commented, I’ve never seen a crowd that somber on the way out. It’s going to be a long year awaiting part two.
What I liked: Almost everything. This movie is impressive on many, many levels. The Russo brothers, who did the phenomenal Winter Soldier among others, pull off something incredible here. The characters worked, their motivations held up, and even to a comic geek like me, there were twists and turns and surprises I didn’t see coming. Seriously, nice job. The after credit scene (yes, there’s only one this time) isn’t a cute little joke, it’s something that’s actually important to the set up for the next movie. Stick around for it.
What I didn’t: In comics, there’s a tendency to sometimes be so enamored of the cool shiny new thing that some of the long standing characters get pushed to the side or upstaged. They sort of do that here where one character out-does two who are supposed to be incredible in their field and were working together. There are several unanswered questions, and even what seemed to me like an off-screen and unremarked-on death of a character that had gotten some good buzz and played a major part in an earlier movie. A few things I hoped for, however illogically, didn’t happen. And what’s probably my personal favorite Avenger got shafted.
This was a stunning movie, literally in some ways. It’s an amazing spectacle that needs to be seen on the big screen, maybe more than once. I’ll give it a 4.75 out of 5. But be warned, it’s not going to go how you thought, and there’s a major cliffhanger to wonder about until next year.
No spoilers were intended in the writing of this review. If I managed one, my apologies.