Movie review: Avengers: Infinity War

Superhero movies are becoming increasingly common. It feels like only last week that Black Panther was in cinemas, and on the small screen The Defenders, Runaways and Jessica Jones season 2 have only just been released… Far from being event movies, the frequency of these releases means that audiences are becoming desensitised to the heroic in these films. We’ve seen it all before, right? The MCU has been going for 10 years now, and has met significant success in bringing the Marvel hero pantheon to life, but does it have anything new, and is yet another Marvel movie really a big deal anymore? Let’s take a look – and it goes without saying that there are going to be some spoilers in my review.

Thanos, arch-enemy of the MCU, has the remaining infinity stones in his grasp. The stones will grant him unimaginable power, and allow him to bring to fruition a plan to slaughter half of the known universe in one stroke… But the known universe is in disarray. The events of Civil War mean that the Avengers are split. Asgard has been destroyed as a result of the events of Ragnarok, and Thor is now the head of a refugee fleet. The forces arraigned against Thanos are strung out and weakened by their own conflicts…

Infinity War is pretty damned epic. We have seen this all before, and in that sense Infinity doesn’t break the mould. It knows that it is an MCU movie, make no mistake, and the plot sticks pretty closely to the tried-and-tested formula. However, everything here is dialled up to 11: both the drama and the action.

As I said when I reviewed Avengers: Age of Ultron, it’s impressive that the studio managed to cram in so many characters, whilst allowing each significant screen time. Infinity War doesn’t achieve this goal quite as well as Age of Ultron, because the vast, vast superhero cast in slightly stretched at times, and two characters in particular – Captain America and Bucky – felt as though they could’ve benefited from more active involvement in the story. But overall, the cast-management elements of the script and plot were effective, and I think most Marvel fans are going to be pleased with this aspect of the film.

What’s perhaps most interesting is the focus on some of the more warmly-received elements of the MCU. Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor seem to be favourites in that sense, as does Doctor Strange. The blending of tones in Infinity War is also interesting. The MCU is becoming broader with each release: Guardians’ more comedic tone being reflected in Ragnarok, but sitting awkwardly with earlier Iron Man and Captain America releases. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo handle this very well, and the plot structure – shifting between events on Earth, and those elsewhere in the galaxy – favours the tonal shift quite well.

Infinity War’s villain also deserves a mention. We haven’t seen a huge amount of Thanos on screen before; rather, he’s been the orchestrator of villainous schemes, pulling the strings from behind the scenes. This time around, he has much more screentime, and as a result his motivations and emotions are explored to a greater degree. He never quite breaks out of the “evil bad guy” channel, but he is more than a one-dimensional villain in Infinity War. The loss of a particular character, and the impact it has on Thanos, was particularing fascinating development.

My only real criticism would be that Infinity War is blatantly part one of a two part serial. Sure, the studio and the Russos have denied this is the case: but the ending of the film is so open, its hard to think of this as a stand alone movie. It’ll be interesting to see how Marvel manages with so many of its heroes out of the game, but again – we all know this isn’t the end for those effected by Thanos’ machinations.

Overall, Infinity War is another engaging instalment in the MCU. While it isn’t doing anything new, it does the superhero thing on a whole new level, and it does it well. If you’re even casually interested in superhero films, you’ll want to see Infinity War, and I think you’ll like it a lot.

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