directors: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
writers: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Josh Brolin
genre: Action | Comics
released: 25 April 2018 (Australia), 26 April 2018 (Germany & Greece), April 27, 2018 (U.S.A.)
Marvel have been building up to this point for almost a decade now and their efforts have proved worthy by all accounts (creatively & financially). 'Infinity War' being their biggest production yet they didn't hold back, gave fans exactly what they wanted and even a little more that that. The surprises in it were genuine and for a change had a narrative cliffhanger that made you want to see its continuation. This bold road Marvel is taking will have obstacles to overcome, as the ultimate ending of this universe is on the horizon, but it just might not end the way we all think and be ultimately the beginning of a new one.
This chapter is the culmination of multiple events across various films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all leading to the alien titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) search for the infinity stones in order to dispose cosmic justice on the universe.
In Thanos way is the 'Avengers' who either are in possession or closest to several of the gems and the 'Guardians of the Galaxy' who are aware of Thanos master plan through his daughter Gamora and their finding of Thor in space. Together they will try to find a way to stop him before its too late.
Marvel's reputation laid upon their execution of the villain Thanos for a lot of reasons, but most importantly because they haven't had good track record when it came to having convincing and three dimensional bad guys in almost all of their films. So unleashing on the world an alien conqueror and murder who's been talked about for years and in countless of films if anything had to be better than just good and it turned out he was great.
Josh Brolin's performance behind whatever CGI work was done (which based on articles and reports was being on set with dots all over his face and body) held his own and gave humanity to an alien who thought his actions were justified by some backwards morale code-book that many even humans in history have tried to justify in the past. This made Thanos have this self righteous attitude that his actions weren't evil, but as he says several times in the film mercy and for the greater good. In addition, the CGI effects done on Brolin are impeccable, with his facial movement being out of this world and action scene participation being flawless the whole time. He also had an arc of his own which even for a villain isn't bad to have and was brought even at one point in the film to rethink his actions and what he would sacrifice for his ultimate plan. What also helped was that Thanos actually had effective and evil henchmen that could hold their own, but also be cool looking. Moreover, they weren't pushed through the marketing very much which was wise and gave us an added surprise to their overall role in the film and how much of a nuisance they were to the Avengers. Another thing that was surprising was the mystical/spiritual cut scenes Thanos had when getting the infinity stones. These were nice little touches that made the film feel more creative and less about punches and explosions that we all enjoy, but never should be alone the reason why we exit our homes and venture into a movie theater. As Thanos journey was purposeful for all the wrong reasons and argumented in the film. Whereas in other Marvel films their villains never explained the reasons why or what happened to them to get there. Leaving the audience with cookie cutter explanations ranging from wanting to destroy the universe just cause or to get richer and rule the world because greed is a thing (Thor 2 & Iron Man 2 villain). Also, the small moments that existed for Thanos with other characters and especially Gamora are what lifted the film up by a large extent. Most might not notice them, but these are the things that make action films more complete. As when the actions of the villain and the hero are deeply interconnected to the plot and where they themselves have to change who they are in order to succeed is what makes a film jump to another level closer to greatness.
With Thanos nailed down, Marvel also thankfully did well with the character's evil scheme and in general plot organization, sectioning off of characters and subplot focus. Especially in regards to the Vision and Scarlet Witch that we were personally invested in and wanted them to come out of the events of the story unscathed. Two characters that have gotten eminence flack from the fan community and weren't beloved by mainstream audiences either. So Marvel had a point to prove that they could also focus on secondary characters, which they did and not only through the action, but also their usage in the plot and their emotional relationship that was reminiscent of their comic book romance. Not to mention their rivalry with Thanos's goons that was something of a nice touch and came full circle later on in the film.
It was also smart on how the production sectioned off many of the characters from each other and still managed to make the film have this incredible momentum going towards its third act. Which made us able to focus on specific events at times and not get confused with timelines or which character was where and on which battlefield and with what goal or on what mission. Everything was straight to the point, which ended up creating separate groups that were able to play off each other in unique ways and also brought a significance to their actions. Such as with Spidey and Iron Man having to make the ultimate sacrifice with their heroic actions against Thanos, Thor's vengeance campaign and the heroes of earth trying to make a stand without knowing the full extent of Thanos plan or how the heroes away from Earth are doing. Not to mention the fact because we were moving from one section of characters to another made each section feel fresh after each time we got back to them. This really helped in making a long film feel shorter than it was and allowing even the weaker parts of the film to be acceptable.
Furthermore, while I do applaud the overall plotting of the film they were minor points that weren't perfect and extending the film any longer with 30 odd characters would be maddening. The most notable being the movie's intro (which is touched upon in the next paragraph) and Cap's involvement and leadership or lack thereof it in the film. Throughout the whole film he was a bit player who didn't have arc or purpose beside being a person of stature to give some commands sporadically and participate in action scenes. The real stars of the film are Starlord, Gamora, Iron Man and Thor with Thanos being the ultimate villain who tires to make his actions of genocide seem morale. However, when your dealing with an important character like Cap either make him do something or keep him out of the events of the film. Another element that was smart was not using all the heroes in the MCU catalogue or overlying on the most popular ones as well (except Cap!). Its fine that SPOILERS Ant Man and Hawkeye are sidelined for the film and having others play not to their fullest power range at times in the film. As this helped to create moments of added comedic effect (e.g. Hulk), while it gave other heroes like Vision and Scarlet Witch moments to shine. Nonetheless, still able to enjoy other minor characters like War Machine and Black Widow and their contribution to the film.
Lastly MAJOR SPOILERS, we have to touch upon the deaths which are many, but will focus only on a couple and also on some minor nitpicks that I have personally with the film. For one having Asgard's surviving population decimated off screen was a major blow to every Thor fan out there and gives us insight that 'Thor 4' either wont happen or shouldn't happen based on the film's outcome. As this killed the Asgard on Earth storyline and after this there isn't much else to do with Thor without Asgard existing. Many in the media said that the film's ending was cheap, but I beg to differ and believe the way Asgard was treated was the cheapest move of all. Additionally, in that first scene of the film there is the treatment of the Hulk, the introduction of Thanos and the killing off another character. This I wont say was cheap, but did feel rushed and significantly on purpose in order for the audience to understand Thanos is a bigger threat than first thought of and that the Hulk is out of the mix for the rest of the film. Plot wise it helps, but ruined it for the characters involved in different ways. Next is Gamora who has greatly written scenes with Thanos throughout the film and the most dramatic moments of all the other characters in film. However, her death seemed a little too on the nose once we were in moment and believe the directors botched the impact of it. As it wasn't a raw moment we couldn't have seen coming and did feel comic bookey in the way they faded to Thanos reaction of it with their camera movement. I grant this is nitpicky, but believe these directors aren't the most adept yet at drama as the other Marvel directors before them. Finally there is Cap's shield which is my largest nitpick. When I first heard in the trailer Black Panther say the line 'give this man his shield' I was pumped and thought Cap is going to unleash hell on the invaders. Then, I saw Steve Rogers have these puny claw shields and was immediately disappointed, talk about a letdown, plus as mentioned before his participation in the film was lackluster.
As with the first 'Avengers' and 'Captain America: Civil War', cramming 50 characters together in one mega blockbuster film is a hell of an achievement and its still amazing that these films even exist and come out as well as they do. Because we've seen how badly they can go, cheesy they can look and of a letdown they can be (Justice League).