TL;DR – Infinity War brings everyone together and then tares them apart leaving you with a foreboding as to what will happen next, but also an excitement as they try to work it all out.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars (this is a tentative score, it might change after Part 2)
Post-Credit Scene – There is an end credit scene
It should be no surprise that I have been eagerly awaiting the new Avengers film. In preparation not only did I map out the Marvel Cinematic Universe (see here) but I also ranked every film released in the build-up (see here). However, if I am to be perfectly honest, part of this stemmed from a nervousness, could they stick the landing, could they create a story that would give justice to all the desperate characters they were involved, could they actually bring on Thanos? Well as you can probably tell I have seen the film now, so I can now answer those questions … sort of. Now a quick note today, there will be [SPOILERS] for several of the recently released Marvel films including Thor: Ragnarok (see review) and Black Panther (see review). As well as this, I will try to avoid most of the major spoilers until a paragraph at the end when we discuss the ending, but because of how quick the film moves this is just a general [SPOILER] warning if you have not seen the film yet.
So to set the scene, at the end of Thor Ragnarok just when everything was looking up we ended on the Asgardian refugee ship being engulfed by an unknown vessel. Well as the logos role we are revealed to their fate as explosions, screams, and static play instead of the fanfare. When we finally move out of the logo we see the devastation with our own eyes as Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his children Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) are walking through the refugees slaughtering those who are still alive. Heimdall (Idris Elba) is severely wounded, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is captured, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is incapacitated, and not even the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) can do much to stop the tide. Knowing that all hope is lost Heimdall in a last ditch effort Bifrösts Hulk back to Earth to warn them of the coming storm, and paid for it with his life. It is here that we learn the reason Thanos is here, someone has the Tesseract, yes it was Loki, and Thanos is here to collect, and he collects the stone and the blood of those around him. Back on Earth Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) are going out to lunch in New York when the Hulk crashes through their roof turning back into Bruce (Mark Ruffalo). Quickly they call on Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) to warn him about what is coming but it is too late because it is already here.
I’m going to do something a bit different this week and not talk about the story at the front because that gets a bit too spoilery too quickly. Instead, what I want to start with are the production design and visual effects. This is a film where not only do we have one award-winning studio working on it you have multiple, including ILM, Weta, Digital Domain, Framestore, Method Studios and more. You can really tell just how just work has gone into making some of those scenes work when you have created environments, digital suits, fully digital characters, weapon effects, environmental effects, and more, all in the same scene. Indeed it takes a lot of talent to make that all work seamlessly and not have the different components, probably worked on by different studios, feel dissonant. Thinking back on the whole film I can only remember one moment where it doesn’t work with a character sitting in a ruined mechanical suit and you can tell they are differently captured elements. We get a number of new characters in this film, mostly the children of Thanos, and they are all created digitally. They did a good job of creating characters that felt real, but also where imbued with part of their personality. This is supported by the set design that builds upon everything that has come before and uses some good location shots including visiting Edinburgh for the first time. As well as this, they seem to be doing a little better with the building and using of musical themes and you could feel the audience really get into it. Every part of this helps draw you into this world of wizards, tech geniuses, and military minds.
The first thing you will probably notice is just how many characters there are in the film, indeed I had to divide the credits list below by film series just to wrap my head around it. We have all these characters come together and then get split up as they go around the universe and I feel the film did a good job of keeping you grounded where everyone is and the cosmic geography of it all. As well as this, Infinity War also did a good job of giving everyone there moment to shine throughout the film. No one is just there for the sake of being there, everyone has a role, even if that role is to not make it to the end credits. I liked that relationships felt real between the characters, here Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), something that has not always worked in this series. You can tell that the world that Marvel has built is so powerful because you could feel it in the audience, there was deathly silence at the start and the moment characters are put in jeopardy there were gasps. Hell in my showing there were actually round of applause when some character appeared. I liked that they gave Thanos a bit of an arc throughout the film and gave him a bit more depth than the bad guy doing things. It was great to see they let Chris Evans keep his beard for a change, though I think the ladies and others in the audience would have like to see the traditional Nomad costume. It was also great to see the Guardians of the Galaxy get integrated into the mix this time around.
Now let’s look at that story which I am going, to be honest, I am still not sure on yet, but the one thing I am sure about is there are [SPOILERS] ahead. The whole movie is about trying to stop Thanos get all of the Infinity Stones because then he could snap his fingers and kill 50% of everyone in the Universe. In many respects, it is bold to have a film whose story could be described as a set of failures on screen, but that then is maybe what we needed. Right from the start, Infinity War was instantly foreboding and you could tell they were not messing around before the even the title card dropped. This is very much Thanos’ film rather than an Avengers films he is the key instigator of every plot point, and it is his story that we see the most of. We see his relationship with Gamora (Zoe Saldana) at the forefront, and also one of the more emotional tangents of the film, especially when this is placed in context with Nebula (Karen Gillan) and his other children. The story moves along at a brisk pace, moving back and forth between all the different moving parts. It also does stop to have some pretty funny moments, which do stand out in an overly dark film. For example, every time Thor has a conversation with Rocket (Bradley Cooper & Sean Gunn) it is pure gold. This all ends up in Wakanda with one of the best battles set pieces in the film. However, the one thing that has me wondering about this film is the ending, which we will now talk about in the next paragraph but it will have [FULL SPOILERS] so if you have not seen the film skip the next paragraph unless you want the ending of the film spoiled for you.
With the ending, we actually get something that might be the first time my role of film reviewer and the role of film viewer has come into conflict. So something happens at the end of the film where a number of characters are killed in quick succession and it is a brutal kick to the guts. This is built upon the fact that there were some surprise deaths in the film that you were not expecting. I was sitting there in a state of shock and then someone who we know can’t die, died and in that one moment, I was immediately pulled out of the film. Even though the internet and the film’s own marketing had made it incredibly difficult, I had tried to go into Infinity War with as little information as possible. However, there are some things that you just can’t help but know like future films that have already been announced and are filming. So as I was sitting there instead of thinking how devastating it was that they killed so many people, I was thinking, well how are they going to reverse all this? Indeed it was only Spider-Man’s (Tom Holland) gut-wrenching cry that brought me back into the film. I think one of the big things that will be discussed in the film is if the title of the film was a bit of a tease. As I mentioned in the score at the top everything I have said here feels a bit tentative because it really does feel like I won’t have a complete view of this film until the currently untitled Part Two drops next year (My bet is it is called Avengers; Revenge of the Fallen). Also while we are here helpfully in Part Two we will find out what happened to Korg and Valkyrie on the ship.
In the end, do we recommend Avengers: Infinity War? Yes of course we do. If you are a fan of the Avengers, well then you probably have already pre-booked your ticket/s. If you are a fan of one of the individual films then you will likely get a kick out of seeing them in the big team up film now that everyone, well nearly everyone, is here. Where do they go from here, well I honestly don’t know and that is both fascinating but also terrifying to be honest with you.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Avengers: Infinity War
Directed by –Anthony Russo & Joe Russo
Screenplay by – Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Based on – The Avengers by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Music by – Alan Silvestri
Cinematography by – Trent Opaloch
Edited by – Jeffrey Ford & Matthew Schmidt
From Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow & Don Cheadle
From Hulk: Mark Ruffalo & William Hurt
From Thor: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston & Idris Elba
From Captain America: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan & Ross Marquand
From The Avengers: Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Kerry Condon, Cobie Smulders & Samuel L. Jackson
From Guardians of the Galaxy: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Pom Klementieff, Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Sean Gunn & Benicio del Toro
From Doctor Strange: Benedict Cumberbatch & Benedict Wong
From Spider-Man: Tom Holland & Jacob Batalon
From Black Panther: Chadwick Boseman, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke & Florence Kasumba
With: Josh Brolin, Peter Dinklage, Terry Notary, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Carrie Coon & Michael James Shaw
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: na; Germany: 12; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 12A; United States: PG-13