Review: Avengers: Infinity War

A decade in the making, Avengers: Infinity War fulfills the promise of the MCU in the biggest and most spectacular way imaginable as all the heroes of Earth and beyond come together to try and stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from gathering the Infinity Stones and wiping out trillions of lives in a finger snap.

Things kick off immediately in Infinity War and pretty much never stops for all 2 and half hours as Thanos scours the universe for the Infinity Stones, gaining the Power gem off screen and claiming the Space gem in the opening sequence from Thor’s refugee ship, leaving the God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth) stranded in space and Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) zapped back to Earth in a last bit of power from Heimdall (Idris Elba).  Thanos sends his forces to Earth which draws Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr), Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Peter Parker (Tom Holland), Vision (Paul Bettany), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) into the conflict, with Tony, Peter hitching aboard one of Thanos’ ships to rescue a captured Strange while the rest of the group tries to figure out a plan to protect Vision and the Mind Gem in his head.  Thor is picked up by the Guardians of the Galaxy and teams up with Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) to forge a new weapon that can take down Thanos while Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista) and Mantis (Pom Klementieff) go to the outer space outpost of Knowhere to try and recover the Aether aka the Reality Gem before Thanos. Perhaps the biggest achievement of Infinity War is that everything remains straightforward and understandable throughout the entire movie. Each group has a different goal that’s established fairly early on and none of it is too convoluted or lost in plot, which gives plenty of time to the main joy of Infinity War which is seeing all of these characters either reunite or meet for the first time.  Thor meeting the Guardians is comedic gold and the Guardians meeting Iron Man, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange is also delightful (pretty much everything with the Guardians is gold). Seeing Hulk/Bruce Banner reunite with the renegade Avengers or the renegades teaming with T’Challa and his people are also great and Infinity War is basically a never ending string of wonderful payoffs for everyone who has watched and loved the MCU for a decade. Thanos also lives up to the hype that has built since the end of the first Avengers movie and Josh Brolin absolutely kills it in the role, delivering one of, if not the best, villains in the MCU. His methods are horrific but he explains his goal in a logical manner and he’s also coming from personal experience so, in his mind, he’s the hero saving the universe from itself.

Besides all the fantastic character interactions, Infinity War is also one of the biggest spectacles ever put on screen.  The movie zips around the universe, going to multiple planets and featuring gigantic action sequences that get even bigger and more insane as Thanos grows more and more powerful, at one point throwing an entire goddamn moon at the Avengers. The Battle of Wakanda is spectacular and full of great team-ups and hero moments from everyone as well, like a team-up between Okoye and Black Widow, Wanda using her powers like never before or Rhodey finally letting loose with the War Machine armor.  There’s some really clever uses for the Infinity Stones throughout as well, although there maybe could have been more and different uses of each Stone. Some other minor nitpicks since we’re on the subject: Thanos’ Black Order, while visually pretty cool, are never really fleshed out or I don’t think even named.  If you read the comics, you know who guys like Ebony Maw are but for general audiences, they are just going to be weird alien henchmen. There’s so much to balance out in this movie though that we don’t really need to know anything about the Black Order besides they are powerful as well and serve Thanos without question.  A character that didn’t really work at all was Peter Dinklage’s Eitri, the dwarf weaponsmith. I don’t know what the hell he is doing with his voice and the entire thing just seems like they wanted the visual joke of a gigantic Peter Dinklage. Also, Black Panther fans will probably be slightly disappointed that that movie’s scene stealing Shuri (Letitia Wright) doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time or much to do besides fiddling with holograms, although she has one solid one upping of smarts with Bruce.

Infinity War is incredible and a stunning achievement in planning and storytelling.  How The Russo Brothers and their screenwriters were able wrangle this many characters and still tell a satisfying, comprehensible story is almost unbelievable and it pays off years of character arcs in consistently great ways.  This is a must see on the biggest screen possible, as soon as possible.

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