Avengers: Infinity War Review
This review is completely spoiler-free.
Avengers: Infinity War is less of a film than it is the payoff to ten years of world and character building. As such, it is an event. The way in which it is structured is that one event will happen, and then another, and then another, and so on until the film ends. Avengers: Infinity War takes the rule book for structuring a standard film and relentlessly drops two and a half atom bombs on it, without showing a sign of remorse. What is left is a film that feels incredibly epic, but almost a little bloated.
To the credit of the directors, the Russo Brothers, they manage to fit a lot (too many to count off the top of my head) of main characters from the last ten years’ worth of Marvel films on screen in a way that feels surprisingly organic. They quip off of each other yet never lose their sense of character established in previous films of the franchise. It truly is a spectacle to see the characters we have grown to love over the last ten years bond together to fight the big bad, yet that is all it is: a fan-servicing spectacle. If you thought previous Avengers films lacked many strong character arcs then you are going to be blown away by how little character development there is here. The lack of character arcs leaves the film feeling a little soulless, despite deserving to have so little character development due to the nature of it being an event that marks the culmination of ten years of films.
I am, of course, speaking from an objective, critical standpoint when I say this. I would be lying if I did not say that films like Avengers: Infinity War are what the big screen was created for. Throughout the entire film I was in awe of what was going on in front of me- to see so many movies crossover into one event. The film truly is a landmark on the history of cinema, and it is so much fun to watch unfold. From the very second that the film starts the pace rarely lets up (you may want to bring your inhaler, if you need one), and never once did I feel bored. The two and a half hour runtime is packed to the brim with action that you really appreciate the quieter moments. That said, it is a tightly edited film, with almost every shot mattering and making its runtime feel warranted. In addition, for the first time in a Marvel film, I did not know what was going to happen next. Sure, I walked in with my predictions, but the unnatural structure of the film allowed it to never fall into the trap of being entirely predictable. From the outset you know that any one of these scenes could be a character’s last, and with so many loved characters in play at once, the Russo Brothers are able to make them all feel expendable.
However, this could not have convincingly been pulled off without the use of a strong villain. In a complete 180° turn for Marvel films, one of the only parts of the film that did not feel soulless was the big bad, Thanos. Like with The Vulture from Spiderman: Homecoming, you understand where Thanos’ motives are stemming from, even if you do not agree with them completely. There are even moments in the film where you feel for the guy and want to give him a pat on the back. Josh Brolin’s portrayal is arrogant one moment and entirely sympathetic the next, creating the best part of the film, and the glue that makes the lack of structure work so well. The oversaturation of heroes allows the villain to stand as the film’s main character, and a small part of me could not help but root for Marvel’s Barney the Dinosaur equivalent.
The technical aspects of filmmaking also exceed the usual Marvel fare. Editors Jeffrey Ford and Michael Schmidt keep the action tense, deciding perfectly when a shot needs to last longer than average and when one needs to cut to the next at a rapid pace. The film’s choice of colours looks like it has just leapt from the pages of a comic book and the effects allow it to be a visual feast for the eye. It looks like a film that cost $300million to make. Though, as always, Marvel trip up with their choice of forgettable music, going even further to commit the crime of making their film far too loud. Avengers: Infinity War’s best moments come from the quiet, and so why the Russo Brothers elected to undercut some of the more emotional moments with music that may be deemed ‘grand’ is a mystery to me. Instead of feeling grand, as intended, those moments are ruined and are left feeling obnoxiously irritating. Subtly has never been Marvel’s strong suit, and it really shows here.
Another weakness Marvel films seem to have been having lately is that of tone. Like Thor: Ragnarok, the tones of each subplot clash painfully depending on which character the film is following at that moment. When following Thanos the tone is serious and you really feel the threat that he poses, yet when the film cuts to the Guardians of the Galaxy jokes are dropped approximately every ten seconds. This means that when certain characters from certain subplots meet, the scenes are left a tonal mess. For all of its amazing work at making the audience feel the stakes and mortality of each character, Avengers: Infinity War often nearly undoes all of that amazing work by falling into old habits of making characters quip at the wrong time. It would be almost forgivable if half of the jokes landed well, but they do not. Occasionally the audience are greeted with a laugh-out-loud (a LOL, if you will) moment, and there are a lot of chuckles to be had, but for every one of these moments there is a joke that does not land, and at times it can be a little grating.
The film is also largely inaccessible. If you are not interested in Marvel films, then you are probably not going to have fun with this film. Similarly, if you have not seen most of the Marvel films leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, then you are probably not going to appreciate the characters. Despite their place within a shared Universe, Marvel films have always done well at acting as standalone films. Even when characters from other films crossover, it is contextualised and explained almost immediately. Of course, given the culminating nature of Avengers: Infinity War audiences are expected to know who most of the characters are upon entering the theatre, and there is so little (good) filmmaking that pull off, especially in the way that the film does. But you should be warned, if you do not like Marvel then Avengers: Infinity War is going to feel like a Transformers film.
But, despite all of my criticism, the film still punched me in the gut where necessary and had me clinging to the edge of my seat (figuratively speaking- those recliner chairs make it difficult to do any edge-of-seat-clinging) for the duration of the film. So much happens that, if you are invested in these characters, you will be bound to feel extremely emotional at some point. But that is the thing: so much happens, and there were moments where I did not care, or because so much had happened beforehand the impact was lessened. It is as I said earlier, the film is bloated. But that will most likely play to the tastes of many. If you love Marvel films, then you are most likely going to love Avengers: Infinity War. In my opinion, it is not Marvel’s best (though I will be surprised if they ever top Guardians of the Galaxy or Captain America: the Winter Solider), but it is a solidly entertaining film that will leave you wanting more Marvel. Moreover, if you are a fan of Marvel or have simply followed the last eighteen Marvel films and enjoyed them, Avengers: Infinity War is a spectacle that you do not want to miss on the big screen.