Sunday, April 29, 2018

Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

At long last, the event initiated in the post-credits sequence of the original Avengers film, helped along by the post-credits scenes in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Thor: Ragnarok and a glimpse of the tyrant's machinations in the first Guardians of the Galaxy has come. The Mad Titan Thanos has come to Earth. The Infinity War has begun.

The Plot

Mere minutes after the ending of Thor Ragnarok, Thanos makes his big move. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) manages to escape to Earth, arriving not long before the first of Thanos's generals. Thanos has already captured several of the Infinity Stones, super-powerful elements forged in the Big Bang, and now he intends to get the rest of them. Ranged against him are the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the survivors of Asgard, but that might not be enough...

The Good

*The movie moves along quickly and brings in the various characters from the previous films in an organic and intelligent way. Although some of the early reviews I've read claimed the movie was "overstuffed," I never got that vibe at all. It all made sense.

*Thanos's motivation are pared down and less silly than in the comics. Not going to go into detail for reasons of spoilers.

*Thanos (Josh Brolin) in general is a very impressive character, rather than merely being a monster sitting on his throne and getting failed by minions repeatedly as he was in the earlier films. He's as strong (or stronger) than the Hulk, as clever as Loki, and utterly ruthless and driven. He's also capable of quite a lot of pathos for a genocidal space god.

*I liked Vision's (Paul Bettany's) interactions with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen). He's a genius-level AI, but he's also two or three years old. Some social clumsiness is to be expected.

*We visit Nidavellir, a world of space dwarfs who forged the Asgardians' weapons. That's a nice nod to Norse mythology.

*A character who has been away for quite some time makes a return appearance and has a major role to play in the story. Again, not going into detail for reasons of spoilers.

*There are some well-done fight scenes. Not going to go into details for reasons of spoilers, but my favorite is a battle on Titan.

(There's a theme going here, in case you haven't noticed.)

*Peter Dinklage plays a minor role and I liked it.

The Bad

*The Black Order (who in the films refer to themselves as "the Children of Thanos") don't really have distinct personalities. I didn't even get their names--the wizardy one that Tony refers to as "Squidward" I think is referred to by Thanos later as "Ebony Maw," but that's it. I like the idea of a villain having his own personal posse (in TVTropes they call this the Quirky Miniboss Squad, although that's a little too goofy for this crew) of actual characters, but this was a failed opportunity. They'd be better-developed if Marvel had used some of its previous baddies instead of killing off all but Loki and Baron Zemo--say a single Ultron-bot survived, Thanos' underlings rescued/captured him, and instead of those demon-beast things, it's an army of Ultrons in Wakanda complete with a smart-alecky James Spader voicing them all.

*There's a lot of telling and not showing with the nasty things Thanos does before the movie begins. It might have been better to make Infinity War a trilogy instead of a duology, with the events on Xandar, Knowhere, and Nidavellir as the first movie (there might be ways to get the major characters involved there--say the Guardians are on Xandar and the Asgardian refugees at Nidavellir when Thanos does his thing), this as the second, and the events of the upcoming second film as the third. This would make it especially clear Thanos is the biggest and baddest of them all and ironically make this film, probably one of the darkest MCU films, a Hope Spot. Here's how I would have done it, but beware spoilers.

*The whole thing I felt was kind of underwhelming. Maybe I went in with overblown expectations, having read reviews or spoiler-free comments describing people shrieking in the theaters and the like, but still.

*The film has a pretty significant body-count of major characters, but I can sense a major cop-out coming in the second film.

The Verdict

Don't get your expectations inflated and you'll enjoy it better than I did. 7.5 out of 10.

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