"With a snap of his fingers..."
Depending on your point of view, Infinity War will either live up to the hype or not quite hold up to your expectations. While the film has been somewhat divisive among its fan base, it still stands as one of the best received MCU films to date. This is a culmination of a narrative thread that has been weaved through many of the previous 18 films produced by Marvel Studios. Infinity War offers much in the way of fan service by giving us numerous pairings of characters we have yet to see interact, and battles we have yet to witness. While there are certainly areas of the movie that I can pick apart for hours or theory craft on what comes next, Infinity War is my favorite of the MCU films solely because of the quick pacing of its story, its use and interactions of its characters, and the superb performance from Thanos himself, Josh Brolin.
Avengers: Infinity War is shattering box office records and if that is a surprise to you, then you clearly haven't been paying attention. Each subsequent film has been pulling in crazy amounts of money since the debut of the first Iron Man movie. Black Panther is one of the highest grossing films in history, and the recent Thor and Spider-Man films have also made some serious bank. The thought that Infinity War not performing well was never a thought anyone could have had. Hell, the film in just three days has already surpassed Justice League's entire box office run. At the time of this writing, the film has grossed nearly 700 million worldwide with no indication of slowing down.
I will be honoring the Russo Brother's request to keep quiet on spoilers, unlike some major online publications that have been tossing out spoilers in their headlines or as entire posts on Twitter for all to see. This review will be occasionally vague and attempt to only comment on either predictable elements of the movie or that of what we have seen in various clips, trailers, and tv spots.
Despite the title of the movie having the 'Avengers' name up front, this is very much a movie centered around Thanos. While we get considerable screentime and appearances from the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy themselves, nearly every scene in the movie is framed around Thanos or his children; the Black Order. Thanos is easily the main character and due to the stellar performance of Josh Brolin, becomes the clear top villain of the MCU, surpassing the likes of Loki and Killmonger. The series of emotions that Thanos has to go through on his quest is wonderfully animated and every squint of the eyes or smirk on his lips is painted across the face of Brolin himself. While many questioned the lack of attire for Thanos, this simplistic design allows the character to emote on a level he has never been known for.
The Black Order; Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Corvus Glaive, and Cull Obsidian, all have several scenes in the movie but lack any sort of backstory or character development. I enjoyed them being in the movie but they could have benefitted considerably from at least some scenes between them to help flesh out exactly who they were. As they stand, they are nothing more than paper thin obstacles for the different teams to push through. While there are moments that give us small glimpses into who several of them are, these scenes are never enough and that is a shame considering how extremely cool their designs are and how fantastic their voice acting is.
When the 2-hour and 40-minute runtime of Infinity War was revealed, it was clear that some characters would not be seeing a considerable amount of screen time in the movie. While that is true for smaller characters like War Machine, Falcon, Okoye, and Bucky, each character, no matter if they are in the film for a minute or two, have a few scenes to really shine. While characters like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, and Thor easily get the most screen time here, I never felt like any character, other than Thanos, to have too much time devoted to them. I've read numerous reviews and opinion pieces on the movie about how the film lacks any real character development throughout the movie and while that is true for the most part, they did have 18 films leading up to this that serve as a basis for that very development.
With bringing all these characters together, some for the first time, we finally get to see interactions between some characters that have existed at either at the far ends of the galaxy or those who exist in totally separate worlds. Seeing Thor or Spider-Man interact with the Guardians is one thing, but seeing the interaction between Stark and Dr. Strange are some of my favorite moments in the film. There are countless more pairings, interactions, and reunions felt across the film that come together in remarkably wonderful ways.
The story set around bringing all these characters together is to stop Thanos from acquiring all six of the Infinity Stones. The pacing of the movie is extremely quick but still takes time to develop certain characters and to provide some explanation as to why Thanos has taken on this task. I never once felt that the movie dragged on or that any of the scenes removed from the film to hit a certain run time was noticeable in any real way. I do still need to see the film in IMAX as some framing of certain scenes seemed designed around the larger format.
With the mixing of the grounded MCU to the additions of magic or those of a galaxy far, far away (no, not that one..), the visual tone of the movie is wonderfully cohesive and that is in large part of the gradual shift in what Marvel has been offering through the past dozen or so films. The movie is wonderfully colorful and features some insanely gorgeous visual effects. That being said, there are several instances where those visual effects feel rushed. As much as I would love to go into detail, the one example in question could give way to how the movie ends for a certain character, even if it's simply a scene of them just standing there.
Infinity War is an action spectacle that spells the beginning of the end of the MCU as we know it. The past 10 years of films have guided their way to what unfolds here and seeing so many of these characters interacting with one another is almost worth the price of admission alone. Infinity War is as emotional as it is action-packed and while some of the events are undercut due to several characters having sequels and threequels in the coming years, I can't honestly wait to see how the follow-up to this film plays out once the dust has settled.