Avengers: Infinity War – a monumental love letter to fans

Avengers: Infinity War handles a massive cast of more than 50 characters with aplomb.
Avengers: Infinity War
Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo
Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Josh Brolin, Chadwick Boseman, and many, many, many more.
Score: ★★★★½

FILM REVIEW
By SHIAMAK UNWALLA

“Dread it. Run from it. Destiny still arrives.” Thanos’ sinister line of dialogue from the trailer tells you all you need to know about the deep, deep trouble The Earth’s Mightiest Heroes — and literally half the universe — are in.

Avengers: Infinity War hits the ground running, with head antagonist Thanos showing just how hopelessly outclassed two of the most powerful Avengers (and one of The Avengers’ most wily villains) are against him within the first 15 minutes of the film.

From there the audience knows that Thanos is no Ultron. He simply cannot be matched in one-on-one combat. It is going to take everything the The Avengers have to defeat him — and that’s before he gets all the infinity stones.

It is Thanos (played wonderfully in motion capture by Josh Brolin) who makes Avengers: Infinity War such a good film. Thanos is the best Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)  villain since Loki (although Black Panther’s Killmonger comes close), and part of what makes him so engaging is his surprising emotional depth. He clearly cares, at least in part, for some characters – he even loves one of them.

The movie cleverly breaks up the characters into little chunks that interact within a vacuum, and those characters tend to play off each other wonderfully — even the ones meeting for the first time in the MCU.

Thanos is the MCU’s best villain since Loki

The film’s climactic battle is visually stunning and does a great job of capturing the essence of each character’s fighting style. Thor is the scene-stealer, but everyone gets the chance to show their moves.

Taken in isolation, Avengers: Infinity War isn’t the best MCU standalone film. It was never going to be – there are far too many characters with too much happening. But such is the magnitude of the MCU that taken in the context of the movies that have come before it, Infinity War is a genuine filmmaking masterpiece.

The film is significantly darker than the average MCU fare, especially by the end, but that doesn’t mean it’s a gloom-fest throughout. The characters all act the way you have come to expect: Iron Man is snarky and full of banter, and his interaction with Doctor Strange is absolutely cracking. Spider-Man is the wisecracking web-crawler we all love.

As fans of Guardians of the Galaxy know, Drax is one of the most hilarious characters in the MCU. A brief interaction between Groot and Captain America, in the midst of the climactic battle, causes a brief spark of mirth to alleviate some of the tension.

Avengers: Infinity War manages to find the sweet spot between maintaining dramatic tension and providing the necessary release with humour.

Few high-stakes dramatic films manage to insert humour without it being jarring (think of how Star Wars: The Last Jedi sometimes fell flat) but Infinity War does this perfectly.

The film’s climactic battle is visually stunning and does a great job of capturing the essence of each character’s fighting style.

 

The film has a mammoth cast of more than 50 characters, and as such not all of them get equal attention. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo weave all the characters together seamlessly and almost every major character in the MCU gets a chance to shine, but some clearly get more of a spotlight than others.

Some fans might be disappointed that their favourite characters have a markedly smaller role than they would have liked, but it all makes sense within the narrative.

Hardcore Marvel fans who have watched most of the MCU films will have an absolute blast. There are heaps of call-backs and references to previous (and in one instance, future) films, and there are moments — like the introduction of Captain America’s team — that will give you goosebumps.

Embed from Getty Images

Cast of Infinity War at the global premiere of the film in Los Angeles a week ago. 

A decade’s worth of world building and character development has led to this moment. Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of long-term storytelling at its finest. The seeds of this movie were sown when the hulking purple head of Thanos was first teased at the end of 2012’s The Avengers, and almost every MCU film since then has contributed to the overall story in some way.

We have had two other Avengers movies (three, if you count the stacked Captain America: Civil War), but none of them have been as game-changing in terms of scale as Infinity War. People were expecting some casualties in this movie; they were not wrong.

Overall, The Avengers: Infinity War is a bittersweet love letter to Marvel fans. The film isn’t for the faint-hearted, but it is an absolute thrill ride from start to finish.

Fans of the MCU will definitely want to watch this, but even casual viewers will have a great time. The last few MCU films have knocked it out of the park;  Infinity War knocks it off the planet (in more ways than one!).