AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)
Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Josh Brolin, Chadwick Boseman, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dave Bautista, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Karen Gillan, Peter Dinklage, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vin Diesel, Benicio del Toro, Tom Hiddleston, Carrie Coon, Pom Klementieff, Winston Duke, Benedict Wong, William Hurt, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders and Stan Lee.
Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.
Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. 149 minutes. Rated PG-13.
Just looking at the poster for Avengers: Infinity War, it’s hard not to notice that this spring’s big Marvel blockbuster has enough characters to populate a small city.
Of course, this is no big surprise. This is the third Avengers movie, and Captain America: Civil War (which was directed by the same brothers as this film) also used this all-star lineup. Hell, even the Warner Brothers Cinematic Universe has now succumbed to this style with Justice League. So, we know what we’re in for going in to the movie. Infinity War is the biggest ensemble yet. Unfortunately, of all these comic book gang bangs, only the first Avengers movie was totally satisfying as a film.
Infinity War does not quite break that streak.
Infinity War has the same problem with Age of Ultron and Civil War. Its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. It is busting out with interesting characters. Problem is that it is so crowded with intriguing characters that none of them really get enough to do. Major characters disappear from the story for huge chunks of time. Others get forgotten, occasionally popping up, waving their hands, going “Hey, remember me?”
It also doesn’t help that Avengers: Infinity War is dark. Very dark. To the point that the periodic attempts at comic relief sometimes feel awkward. It is definitely the gloomiest Marvel film since Captain America: Civil War, which is kind of a shame after the double shot of fun in the last two MCU films, Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther.
In fact, I won’t give up any spoilers, but I will say that if they don’t walk back some of the things that happened in Infinity War, I’m not sure where the MCU films can go from here. I know they have all this stuff mapped out, but it really does feel like with Infinity War, they have sort of painted themselves into a corner.
I don’t want it to seem like I did not like Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, through much of the film it is pretty darned good. It is spread too thin, yes, but there are interesting storylines, a surprisingly effective villain (Thanos, played by Josh Brolin under a whole lot of makeup and CGI) and some terrific action sequences.
Besides, you have to like a movie in which Peter Dinklage plays the tallest character in the film.
Things start to fall apart a bit in the last half hour. All the interesting storylines seem to peter out into a few ridiculously large and busy action sequences, all-out war scenarios with casts of hundreds or even thousands trying to kill each other. The problem is, the wars are so huge and the mayhem so massive that it is hard to keep track of the action, or even get a rooting interest. It sort of feels like the final scenes of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, battles so massive and overwhelming that it eventually gets a little boring.
Like most good Marvel films, some of the best parts are the smaller character moments. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) debating ethics with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch). Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) insecurely trying to out-macho Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) trying to figure out why he suddenly can’t Hulk out. Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) sneaking off for a little romantic tryst in Scotland.
Many of the earlier action sequences are also pretty stunning. Too bad things get so extremely bleak in the last half hour. Avengers: Infinity War almost feels like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a near total eclipse of the sun which will hopefully… hopefully… eventually lead us back into the light.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 27, 2018.