Here we go with another Marvel blockbuster and another superhero ensemble, this time the much-anticipated feature that finally pits our familiar heroes against the mighty Thanos (Josh Brolin, in motion captured form). Things look bleak from the start, with Thanos having control of two of the infinity stones, placed in his gauntlet, within the first ten minutes. And viewers are under no illusion that everything will get worse before it gets better. Earth is a target, other planets have already been decimated, and nobody has anything approaching a proper plan to stop Thanos in his tracks.
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, the men who did such great work with the second and third Captain America movies, Avengers: Infinity War is a LOT of fun. It's all about great power, great battles, and the ultimate stakes. And all of it is elevated by the cast, including, but not limited to, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, Scarlett Johansson, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Chadwick Boseman, Anthony Mackie, and Peter Dinklage. They are all perfect in their roles, as anyone who has seen any of the previous Marvel movies will already know.
Which is why it's a shame that the script, by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, doesn't always treat them as well as they deserve. The writers deserve credit for the plotting, for trying to make something that will please fans and also allow relative newcomers to enjoy everything, and for somehow making sure that every single character has at least one great line, despite the crowded cast. They also deserve credit for a couple of the choices made, but let's not rush to highlight anything here as particularly unpredictable or brave. Considering the elements in place, the grand finale didn't resonate with me as it seems to have resonated with some others. But I started this paragraph about to criticise the writers for their treatment of the characters and I should really finish that thought. One or two examples aside, mainly from the Guardians Of The Galaxy, most of these characters feel either a bit too removed from what they used to be, or just a bit too convenient in their geography and timing. I do understand that they've all been through a lot in recent years, which would change anyone, but these don't feel like natural developments. They feel like the writers forgot the essence of the characters at times, sometimes within the runtime of this very film. And don't even start me on how the opening scenes of this film spoil the end of a certain other superhero movie (not going to name it, watch and you'll see what I mean).
That isn't the only problem that the film has. First of all, things are now TOO big. The threat, the scope, the runtime, this is a film that may will certainly be held up as a prime example by anyone who wants to show how superhero movie fatigue is a rot that has been developing in multiplexes over the past decade or so. I am not one of those people, but even I was starting to feel a bit weary by just the end of the first act.
It's also a shame that the Russo brothers don't keep the action as smooth and satisfying as it was in their previous two movies. I assume that has to do with the increase in size, leading to more stunts and effects and a need for more editing in most of the main action sequences. The most satisfying set-piece for me was one set in the streets of Edinburgh, but that is just because I live here (rather than the quality of the action itself). When even the fluidity and grace of Black Panther is turned into something looking clumsy and erratic you have to think that something is a bit off with the way the fights were filmed.
Despite my criticisms here, the good far outweighs the bad, and I don't want the above thoughts to make anyone think that I disliked it. I definitely liked it. I REALLY liked it. Mainly because of the cast being so effortlessly brillant, but there are also plenty of fun lines of dialogue, some great exchanges, a very real sense of danger throughout, and satisfying callbacks to previous adventures and connections. The special effects are fantastic, with Thanos looking a lot better here than he did in the trailers for the movie, and the lengthy 149-minute runtime goes by quickly enough (although it could have certainly been trimmed in at least one or two places). Oh, and there's the inevitable post-credits sequence. Just the one, but worth sticking around for.
The disc release is a while away yet so just do some shopping here to help me get rewarded.
Americans can shop here.