Avengers: Infinity War Review
Finally the long wait is over. For years we have had to hear how Avengers Infinity War would be the ultimate experience the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to offer. Assembling Earth’s mightiest heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy to fight the often talked about but rarely seen Thanos. Avengers Infinity War is a true accomplishment, as directors Anthony and Joe succeed to juggle the overload of characters and story points to create a multi-layered experience. This is my review of Avengers Infinity War. I should warn those who have yet to see the movie that it does contain SPOILERS.
That said, I will not cover every aspect of the story. With a running time of 149 minutes and with references to past movies there is simply too much to cover. Instead, I will introduce the story and then talk about what I liked and what I didn’t like (which was not much).
The end of Asgard
Avengers Infinity War right from the start beats expectations. Viewers do not get to see the rise of Thanos, instead we see him in full swing as he destroys the Asgard ship Statesman. The ship is carrying Thor, his brother Loki and the Asgard refugees away from their destroyed home. Thanos is accompanied by the “Children of Thanos” – a group of henchmen with special gifts. Their presence immediately raise the stakes. These are not your regular villains that can be bested by a hammer or a green Hulk. Thanos has been plundering the galaxy, as such he has a large pool from which to select super villains in order to find the six Infinity Stones.
Heimdall and Loki
For Thor and the Asgardians the arrival of Thanos is yet another disaster. Supposedly Thanos has killed half the remaining population – as is his plan for the entire galaxy. Heimdall dies after with his large bit of energy he sends Banner to Earth to warn of the imminent arrival of Thanos. Loki is next to die when he attempts to mislead Thanos into thinking he will fight for him. Thanos abandons Thor and no mention is made of Valkyrie.
Despite the gloomy start (and it does get worse), Infinity War is not without humor. Hilarity ensues when on Earth Banner crashes through Dr. Strange’s roof. After he has given his warning Dr. Strange responds by asking who Thanos is. The question is certainly answered throughout the movie, for the benefit of the viewer. The backstory of Thanos, and his relationship with Gamora is an important aspect of this movie. In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is Thanos’s movie.
Children of Thanos
Quickly events on Earth get out of control. Thanos knows there are two Infinity stones on earth – one owned by Dr. Strange and one that is physically part of Vision. The Children of Thanos arrive in New York on-board a giant circular spaceship. They battle Dr. Strange, Wong, Banner and Tony Stark until they manage to capture Strange. Stark – aided by Peter Parker manage to board the ship as it departs for Titan – the home planet of Thanos.
And end to the Civil War
Meanwhile Vision and Wanda are in a relationship – one they have kept secret as they are on opposing sides in the Civil War. Vision’s stone has been causing him irritation. Things quickly come to a head when they are ambushed by the Children of Thanos. Vision is nearly killed and Wanda desperately tries to fend of the attackers. At the last moment she is rescued by Captain Rogers, Romanoff and Falcon. Rogers takes a risk by taking the party to the Avengers compound in New York. There he is confronted by a Colonel Rhodes who is eager to heal old wounds. This sets into motion the defense of Vision’s Infinity Stone – a quest that will ultimately end in Wakanda.
Meanwhile the Guardians of the Galaxy get in on the action to try and save the Asgardian ship Statesman. However, they arrive too late and instead all they find is Thor – drifting in space. This is a moment of the movie that I belief does not work out too well. Both Thor and Quill act out of character and Thor in particular makes for an unhinged impression. However, Thor relays the message that Thanos has stolen two Infinity stones so far and is now after the others as well. Gamora, as Thanos’s adoptive daughter immediately understands the dangers involved. And so starts a quest – one that will end in Gamora’s sacrifice at the hands of Thanos. Thor is joined by Rocket and Groot in going to Nidavellir in obtaining a new hammer. Meanwhile Quill, Gamora, Drax and Mantis track Thanos and attempt to stop him.
The fight on Titan
Sadly, taking on Thanos is harder than anybody could have imagined. Quickly he manages to obtain two more Infinity Stones – and is well on the path to being unstoppable. A last stand on Titan by some of the Avengers and the Guardians fails when things get personal. A valiant defense of Wakanda ends in Thor finally overpowering Thanos, but with all six Infinity Stones in his possession including the one that can alter time this victory is only temporary. As Thanos disappears to live his victory his wish finally comes true. On Titan and in Wakanda one by one heroes disappear into ash. Among those dead are Vision, Barnes, Drax, Groot, Mantis, Maximoff, Parker, Quill, Strange, T’Challa, and Wilson.
Part 1 of Avengers Infinity War
Well, that was it for part 1 of Avengers Infinity War. What I summarized above can be considered crude to say the least. For the most part the flow of the movie is quite easy. Thanos manages to capture the Infinity stones one by one – sometimes by force and sometimes by making sacrifices. I think Thanos stands in stark contrast to a ridiculous villain such as Steppenwolf from last year’s Justice League. Nonetheless, there are moments when I lost the plot of the movie. The introduction of the Guardians and Thor is one such occasion. It was a moment I thought felt as is if the ensemble just grew too large. The second half of the movie also felt problematic. It seemed themes were repeating, special effects were over-committed and my interest started to wane.
Another issue with Infinity War is that characters could not be themselves. An example is Tony Stark, or Iron Man. He and Pepper are back together and are even talking about kids. Or at least Tony is and Pepper is humoring him. But as soon as the adventure begins Tony is all about the Iron Man suit. He does not take it off for the rest of the movie. We do not see the fallout if his impulsive character, his engineering genius not his relationship with Pepper. Instead, his new Iron Man suit only provides the appropriate Deus Ex Machina when needed – as does Peter Parker’s Spider-man suit. I mean, a nano-tech suit and claws coming out of Spidey’s suit felt far too indulgent.
As is often the case with a movie featuring an ensemble cast – not every character gets enough screen time. Avengers Infinity War does well featuring so many, but a number are shorted. Hawkey, Ant-Man and Valkyrie do not feature at all. Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) does have scenes, but they are largely inconsequential. I do like her blonde hair though. Also Barnes, Rhodes and the Falcon are shorted. They get scenes, they do not have an easily explainable absence – which makes their lackluster presence all that more noticeable.
I wonder about the ending a lot. Does it ultimately show who the favorite superheroes are – or was it an business decision. Tony Stark, Captain Rogers and Thor are among the survivors, and those are the top names on any billing in the MCU. One thing that the second movie already improves upon is the culling of the superheroes. With half of them gone, presumed dead, the ensemble has been reduced to a more manageable size.
The first Avengers Infinity War can be considered a success – it certainly lived up to the hype. The negative aspects I discussed above won’t be shared by all and can be dismissed ‘in the moment’. The dark humor, funny one-liners, consequential story, good special effects and terrific cinematography mean that Infinity War is so far the best Avengers movie. I am still debating with myself if it is the best MCU movie ever. The second Infinity War movie is set for a May 3rd 2019 release. Let the long wait begin. Meanwhile there is Ant-Man and the Wasp in July – and Captain Marvel in March.