Starring in Avengers: Infinity War is BAFTA Award nominee Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Academy Award nominee Josh Brolin as Thanos, Saturn Award Winner Chris Pratt as Star Lord / Peter Quill, Teen Choice Awards nominee Sebastian Stan as Bucky, four-time Golden Globe Award nominee Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, Academy Award nominee Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, Academy Award winner Brie Larson as Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel, ALMA Award winner Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Empire Award winner Karen Gillan as Nebula, two-time Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton / Hawkeye, two-time Saturn Award nominee Chris Evans as Steve Rogers / Captain America, BAFTA Awards nominee Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet, four-time Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon, Screen Actors Guild Awards nominee Vin Diesel as Groot, Academy Award nominee Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Screen Actors Guild Awards nominee Paul Rudd as Scott Lang / Ant-Man, British Independent Film Awards nominee Benedict Wong as Wong, Action on Film Award winner Dave Bautista as Drax, BAFTA Film Award nominee Paul Bettany as Vision, Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuoso Award winner Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther, three-time Academy Award nominee Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner / The Hulk, and two-time Academy Award nominee Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man.
An unprecedented cinematic journey ten years in the making and spanning the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” brings to the screen the ultimate, deadliest showdown of all time. The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.
Anthony and Joe Russo direct the film, which is produced by Kevin Feige. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo and Stan Lee are the executive producers. Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely wrote the screenplay. “Avengers: Infinity War” releases in U.S. theaters on May 4, 2018.
I’m not going to bore you with an opening paragraph about how this is the culmination of the MCU to date etc. If you are here reading this you probably know all there is to know about Infinity War. Regular readers will know my thoughts on the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’ve been disappointed by a few of the recent releases. That curse was broken by Black Panther (reviewed here).
Thankfully Avengers: Infinity War furthers my new found confidence in the franchise. It’s a success on so many levels that it would be difficult to disappoint. Yet there are moments which feel drawn out and in need of tightening up.
Its story is masterfully put together to balance the large number of leads and nothing is left to chance. Every beat of the story feels planned to excess. Each decision feels painstakingly made in order to maximise its impact.
To a degree that planning is a success. The entire film feels like the extended third act of a standard movie. Or like the series finale of your favourite show. It’s constructed of so many action sequences that the pacing very rarely lets up. The sheer excitement even makes up for the set piece to set piece nature of the script.
There’s a weight to this film which comes from its emotional core. Whilst many of the Marvel characters have had dramatic moments, there are few who could carry the full weight of this story. That honour falls to Gamora (Zoe Saldana) who has exactly what the film needs to give you all the feels when necessary.
Saldana’s performance is equal amounts drama, tragedy and comedy. Confronting her past in a way which would feel out of place in a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. She brings a whole new dimension to the role which is, ironically, very human.
Thanos is a huge success as a character. Not only do we have the MCU’s first memorable villain but one who is afforded a significant amount of screen time. He will easily go down in history as one of the best comic book movie villains of all time.
The development of his role gives a generous amount of context to his actions. He’s not a straight up villain. He is the hero of his own story. It’s a simple ethos but one which is evident every moment the character is on screen.
The CGI used to bring Thanos to life is mostly excellent. He has a presence on screen which matches that of Hulk. He feels connected to the world around him even when integrated with Earthly landscapes. The character dominates his scenes in a way which feels true to his character.
However there are moments when it works less. His mouth often appears a little too fluid. It’s a common occurrence with fully CGI characters but nothing which will ruin your experience of the film. A moment in which the heroes choose to pull off the infinity gauntlet rather than cut off his arm is also frustrating.
It’s not physically possible to cover the entire cast in one review. Standout characters for me were:
- Thor – absolutely the standout character for me. A brilliant arc for him. His entrance to the final battle at Wakanda is the sort of stuff to make the hair on your arms stand up.
- Draxx – some excellent humour from him. Also a sadness we’ve not seen since GotG Vol 1.
- Spidey – his Avengers-knighting moment and final scene are two emotional highlights of the film for entirely different reasons.
But with the highs do also come a number of lows:
- Thor’s eye – considering this film picks up shortly after the events of Ragnarok, that films consequences are too easily forgotten.
- Black Order – these characters are wasted and too easily dispatched. It’s a shame that given actors were cast to play the roles these were only voices. Not all of the characters needed to be fully CGI.
- Hulk – whilst it was an understandable decision to sideline Hulk his lack of presence hurts the film at several key points.
The pros far outweigh the cons and there is very little for hardcore MCU fans to worry about.
Fight sequences are excellent. Each feels different and unique in its own way. Choreography varies between characters and each keeps their own voice from previous appearances. The gold medal has to go to the battle of Wakanda. It’s a huge moment for the film and the cast and clearly was incredibly complex to film.
The many elements of the film come in to play in Wakanda and it’s truly edge of your seat stuff.
Where the story unravelled for me was in its climax. Following the battle Wakanda, Thanos plays out a famous panel from the comics. Following that moment comes a series of supposedly heartbreaking scenes. Whilst some (Spidey and Bucky) are more successful many come off as forced in order to give the film an ending.
I can’t help but feel that presented in a more streamlined way this sequence could have had a much larger impact. The current iteration is so drawn out that emotional resonance is replaced by boredom.
Avengers: Infinity War is perhaps not the masterpiece many were hoping it would be. However it is a hugely enjoyable and emotional climax to what is arguably the most consistent comic book series on film.