Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Wow…I’m almost at the point of giving up, when it comes to opening my reviews of Marvel titles with something akin to “Gee, Marvel does it again, dear reader…surprise surprise!”…because now it just feels redundant. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that whatever the next Marvel flick is, odds are, it’s at least going to be a fun time at the movies, if not a highly kick-ass one. Another thing I’ve been crowing on about in recent reviews is my current state of ‘super-hero fatigue’. Due to said crippling ailment, I still haven’t gotten around to catching ‘Black Panther’, which is still gracing the cinemas alongside this one, and that was part of my motivation for heading out into an already-hot Sunday morning to catch a 10:30AM showing of ‘Infinity War’. I wanted to see if the new Avengers title in the MCU had the mettle to stand on its own two feet, without relying on whatever happened in the movie in the franchise that came before. Of course SOME knowledge of past events and characters is needed, but what I wanted to see was what sequel this was turn out to be: ‘Avengers 3’ or ‘Black Panther 2’. Basically, having not seen ‘BP’ yet, would I be lost on part of the plot here. Luckily…this is definitely ‘Avengers’, while also serving as a solid vehicle for a series of intersecting story lines and characters from other movies in the MCU.
The film opens where we left off in ‘Thor Ragnarok’, with the escape ship carrying  ‘Thor’ ( Chris Hemsworth), ‘Loki’ (Tom Hiddleston), ‘The Hulk’ (Mark Ruffalo) and the Asgardian survivors from ‘Ragnarok’ running smack into ‘The Dark Astor’; flag ship for ‘Thanos’ villainous empire. ‘Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) has been searching the galaxy for the 6 missing Infinity Stones; 6 all-powerful gems that were born of the cosmic Big Bang, and he has targeted these characters as a means to find one of them. During the valiant attempt at resistance, ‘The Hulk’ is Bifrost’d through space, on a collision course with Earth to warn the Avengers and their allies that ‘Thanos’ has our planet in his cross-hairs, because two of the gems are stashed here…somewhere. Lucky us! Into the aftermath of ‘Civil War’, ‘The Hulk’ literally plummets, where his message of warning forces the harshly divided team of super-heroes to put their differences aside and come together to defend our world…and a good half of the galaxy.
Surprise, surprise…this was a solid ‘Avengers’ movie! I had a lot of fun with this flick, on several levels. First things first: Marvel simply knows ‘quality’. They clearly plan what they’re going to do, based on (mostly) consistent writing that ‘works’, both on its own and in the confines of the MCU…and then they toss a shit-load of cash at the production…with notable talent behind it. So far…this approach SEEMS to be working.

What also SEEMS to be working is Marvel Studios choice to hand the reins to some of the biggest titles in the franchise, to The Russo Brothers, Anthony and Joe. These two came in from a solid background in comedy and unexpectedly blew everyone away with ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ (2014), which then led to ‘Captain America: Civil War’ (2016)…which was just a straight-up bad-ass ‘Avengers’ flick!…without it actually being an ‘Avengers’ entry. This time…they got to actually fire up an actual ‘Avengers’ tale…and it was very cool! Another thing that just popped into mind about this movie was the sense of ‘balance’ the narrative has. In a story of this size, with this many relevant characters, balance is absolutely key, especially in service of the pacing. Narratively, there’s a fair bit to digest, but it flows at you at a manageable speed that let’s you keep up with it, with little to no trouble. Tonally, there are some definitely dark moments from time to time…let’s just say that not all of our main peeps make it to the last dance…if you get my drift. But in among the chaos, there’s a liberal dosing of (mostly) well-timed humor scattered through the 2 hour 30 min run-time, which just made the proceedings all the more enjoyable.

The cast was great, but there’s so bloody many of them, that I can’t effectively itemize them all without putting your ass to sleep, dear reader. Let’s just say that we get Main Cast from ‘Iron Man’, ‘Captain America’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘The Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Thor’ and, well, pretty much EVERYBODY else, plus ‘The Avengers’, of course…and they’re all great! They all seem to have nicely grown into these characters and productions over the last decade, so within the confines of this established ‘universe’, they come off as very natural. It was also cool in that it seemed like nearly everyone, no matter how small the role (and some are pretty minuscule), got a chance to shine and to effectively partake in the progression of the story. One character / performance that really stood out to me was Josh Brolin’s subdued, but menacing take on the Mad Titan ‘Thanos’, There was a sense of tragic purpose in his character, with a couple displays of unexpected emotion helping add layering to his potentially one-dimensional Big Bad. As I alluded to earlier, a surprising number of characters that we’ve grown to love over the years get their final tickets punched and that was ok with me. Just don’t ask me ‘who?’…cuz I ain’t spoil’n nuthin! None of them felt like ‘throw-aways’ (unlike the lazy and undignified way that ‘Thor’s battle buddies were dispatched in ‘Ragnarok’…one problem I DO have with that one) and it just seemed fitting that, after all this time, SOMEONE needs to go…permanently. So in that regard…I was not let down.

I was also not let down by the 3D…I had a lot of fun with the use of the Third Dimension in this movie! There was an impressive amount of depth and the use of particles really added to some of the varied worlds the story hops across. The 3D also added some more ‘cool’ to an already cool selection of CG set-pieces and locales. To be expected, the overall production is top-notch.
If I had to dredge up a Negative, I could see how some people MIGHT be let-down by the end (I wasn’t). When I came home, I told my girlfriend that this one was the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ of the MCU, in that the ending isn’t all sunshine and lollipops, and it could even be argued that the lack of resolution. for at least one key plot-line, felt a wee bit cheap (?). That being said, there is no doubt that an ‘Infinity War Two’ needs to / will happen. The size of the motherfucking cliffhanger at the end of this one is Everest-like! This story is DEFINITELY not stopping here…at least, not for everyone.
All in all, ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ was a fun 2 and a half hours at the movies and its existence just helps keep the Marvel Studios success train a chugg’n along. The well-paced story effectively balances a dauntingly-sized cast of beloved characters, while giving us the inventive and kinetic action set-pieces we’ve come to expect from the MCU. We get clever chuckles intercut with the tragic fates of some fan-faves, in a progressive narrative that fits into the overall MCU like a glove. It gives the audience some cool ‘Easter Eggs’ and cameos, and it comes with an ending that will leave the nerds and fan-boys n gals salivating for more. If you’re a fan of comic book adaptations / the MCU / science fiction / action movies…this is EASILY a title for you. It’s a great example of the pure escapist Summer Blockbuster and I recommend you check it out in the theatre while you can. In 3D. You won’t be sorry!

*SPOILER – no matter what you may have heard in the lead-up to the release of ‘Avengers: Infinity War’…our buddy ‘Hawkeye’ (Jeremy Renner) is nowhere to be fucking seen! The dude is completely MIA…aside from one quick ‘throw-away’ line about why he and ‘Scott Lang’ / ‘Ant-Man’ (Paul Rudd) couldn’t come to the party (whoops!…SPOILER there too, I guess. Sorry!). I recall some teases about a cameo, or quiet supporting role…and apparently that was bullshit! No offence, Jeremy Renner…we all love ‘Hawkeye’, despite the limited-in-use skill-set, but apparently our love wasn’t enough to get you and your Robin Hood cosplay gear out again! Someday, you’ll be useful again!…someday.

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