Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Movie Review (No Spoilers)
We are finally here, the epic, ambitious and unprecedented crossover from Marvel Studios in the making for the past decade, beginning in 2008 and since then teased, set up and developed over 18 movies. Infinity War brings together familiar faces from all three phases of the MCU, and while it may not be an actual end of an era as the ads might want you to believe, it very much feels like the beginning of the end. Suffice to say, the hype and expectations for this megaflick is miles off the chart, and it's difficult to imagine how in the world the movie is supposed to even come close.
To summarize the gist of the plot for all three of you who don't know it already: Thanos, the Mad Titan, finally steps away from his ridiculously compensatory chair and embarks on a quest to collect all six of the Infinity Stones. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he would be able to fulfill his ultimate goal of balancing the universe, by wiping out half of its population. For obvious reasons, this idea doesn't sit well with the Avengers, the elusive Team Cap, Guardians of the Galaxy, mystic wizards, Asgardians, Wakandans and Spider-Man, who band together on a desperate mission to stop Thanos from completing his gem collection. So basically, the Justice League plot, just better.
This review will strictly avoid any potential spoilers, however, I must state beforehand that the movie is very spoil-able, so I can give you little beyond a general impression. The best idea is to ignore all opinions altogether and go watch it yourself at your earliest availability and experience it. I do recommend you bring a cinema buddy with you, because you WILL have the urge to talk about it afterwards.
As previously stated, this is a HUGE movie with no less than 20 main characters to juggle. The Russo Brothers have previously faced a similar challenge tackling Captain America: Civil War, and they nailed that situation beautifully. However, the task of balancing these insanely diversified characters in two and a half hours and doing everybody justice is so monumental, that it essentially makes their previous venture look like child's play. No, not the Chucky one.
In Civil War, there was a clearer character echelon on the basis of which screen time was allocated, Cap and Iron Man being the leads, Spidey and Ant-Man being the short and sweet highlights, and everyone else in between. With Infinity War, all heroes are facing a common enemy that threatens everybody in a similar manner, so the same tactic cannot be repeated. Amazingly, for 90% of it, the Russo Brothers delivered on this front with flying colors, and with such an unorthodox model to base on a movie, it's hardly fair to ask for more.
Each and every one of your favorite heores get at least one or two moments where they get to shine. Granted, nobody gets a particularly large piece of cake, as you might expect, but the cake is not a lie. With limited screen time, it's quite amazing how effectively their unique characteristics and powers were showcased, and how well their personalities clash when characters that had never been aware of one another are forced to interact, which provides some of the most solid comedic moments that have ever graced the MCU, not a small feat.
As great as it was to see Earth's (galaxy's?) mightiest heroes unite, there is one character more essential than any of them, which for the purpose of this movie, demands to be portrayed right, and that is Thanos. Many of us had legitimate concerns with this character being the villain for potentially two Avenger movies. Will he translate well on screen? Will he simply be a CGI baddie screaming to collect stuff like Steppenwolf? Will he be menacing enough to warrant such an epic team-up, with Marvel supposedly suffering from this "villain" problem (which I believe has been an irrelevant comment since 2016 but people keep saying it anyway)? If Thanos fails to a real character, the movie will be very contrived indeed.
Thanos was first revealed in the mid-credits scene from The Avengers (2012), and has since appeared briefly in Guardians of the Galaxy and another mid-credit tease in Avengers: Age of Ultron. During these preliminary appearances, he was set up as a fully computer-rendered boss with a lot of power to wield and way too much free time. Up to this point, we know him as a cruel, heartless, feared and revered monster, but only indirectly by hearing Drax, Gamora, Nebula and Ronan talking about him, while all we've really seen is a hunk of purple muscle sitting in an over-compensating chair doing jack squat. There are so many things that could go wrong with this character in a movie where he must be done right.
Turns out, Avengers: Infinity War is Thanos' movie, and he's absolutely brilliant. He is a fully-fledged, multi-faceted character with credible motivations and heartfelt emotional resonances. The facial effects are 99% on point, even with instances of microexpressions further enriching the character. You can arguably replace the movie title with Thanos: Infinity War and it would make perfect sense (not as bankable, though). With the history of MCU of focusing on the journey of the heroes and downplaying that of the villains, which contributed to the aforementioned problem of too many one-time villains, seeing the magical template flipped on its head is a breath of fresh air that also serves to chuck all the previously set-up rules out of the window. Anything goes this time.
Infinity War is certainly not a perfect movie, but its few flaws can be attributed to the very reason it is awesome. Being the most ambitious crossover movie of all time and living up to that name, occasionally audiences may feel the weight that's inevitably put on the plot, as the movie switches left and right to various scenes and subplots with little to no room to breathe (definitely to time for bathrooms so get that settled beforehand). Good news is, that feeling of congestion all but vanished by the second viewing, where you get to care less about how things are going down, and are able to kick back and enjoy the ride. Let' s be honest, Infinity War isn't meant to be watched only once.
It is also not a movie that can be easily enjoyed for viewers unfamiliar with the previous installments, as it really is a culmination of everything that's come before. Although the skeleton plot is nothing crazy or complicated, there may simply be too many characters to handle at once, and you might spend a significant portion of the runtime explaining to your confounded friend who everybody is. It's like going to a cool party without actually knowing anybody. As mentioned, none of the heroes had too much screen time over others, so as far as character development is concerned, most of it was dedicated to Thanos but very little to the heroes, which is only fair because they have been evolved and explored across multiple prior movies, and Infinity War is all about reaping the rewards of all those buildups.
That does mean if you haven't seen the previous movies, while you might understand the overall story progression, you might struggle to find a reason to care. I would advise newcomers to at least watch the previous two Avengers movies, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, Thor Ragnarok and Black Panther. Still a lot to catch up, but it should be doable. Or just watch them all if you have the time because it's one hell of a ride.
Infinity War is a 160-minute movie that barely feels over an hour. Without revealing anything specific, it is so packed with hilarious, exhilarating, shocking or even jaw-dropping moments that it is basically a highlight reel of the best that the MCU has to offer. Like the calculated cake-dividing between each character, the Russo Brothers also managed to balance various tones interrelated with these characters. Unlike the three MCU outings of 2017 which were all more on the comedic side, Infinity War found a great point of balance between levity and drama where the two contrasting tones somehow never clash and even work in each other's benefit.
Alan Silvestri delivered possibly the best score this franchise has ever seen by similarly balancing the varying tones seamlessly between each segment. Aside from the fan-fav Avengers main theme which, along with its variations, was played to maximum effect in the movie, Silvestri gave identity to each faction of characters as the movie cuts from one to another, and it's always riveting to find audiences able to immediately realize exactly what's coming aided by musical distinctions, be it Captain America, Guardians or the Wakanda bunches, and become instantly hyped about it. It's a not-so-subtle reminder of how prolific and diversified the MCU has been, and how cherishingly we identify with its many facets.
About the ending which I will not spoil, suffice to say you will be eager for the as-yet-titled fourth Avengers movie to be released one year from now. Be that as it may, Avengers: Infinity War feels like a complete movie and only very few subplots aren't completely tied up by the end and presumably will be dealt in the sequel. Let's say it's 88% a complete movie, which leaves 12% of setting up. 12% is a magical number for the MCU after all.
Avengers: Infinity War is a rollercoaster that's destined to leave a landmark on blockbuster history. While its very existence is something of a miracle for anyone who's followed Hollywood's track record for any period of time, the fact that it lived up to the hype and exceeded it in many regards is nothing short of astonishing. It is a movie jam-packed with emotions, hilarities and memorable moments, succeeding on a formula that has no business of actually working. While there are some pacing issues on first viewing, they are almost completely dissipated upon rewatches.
As of right now, it ranks as my personal favorite movie of the Avengers trilogy and among the top of the MCU. It has become something of a tradition for me to rank 10 to 20 best blockbuster moments on this platform each year, and I shudder to imagine how much that list is going to be occupied by Infinity War alone.
I give Avengers: Infinity War a 9/10.