Monday, May 07, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

So that happened...that being seeing the long-awaited -- and rather unsettling -- AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018).

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR unites virtually every character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe against the most fearsome villain of all, Thanos (Josh Brolin). Thanos is a genocidal maniac who also happens to be the father of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He's busy collecting Infinity Stones, which to this point in the series have acted rather like Hitchcock's MacGuffins, propelling the stories forward without much direct impact.

However, if all the Infinity Stones are held by one person, he'll have unlimited power...and some of the last stones Thanos needs are in the hands of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Vision (Paul Bettany). Needless to say, Thanos is coming after them.

I don't want to delve too deeply into the plot as to do so would necessarily be spoilerish. Let's just say some have called this the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) of Marvel films, and they wouldn't be wrong, though I didn't find myself terribly upset by the ending, as I don't believe it's possible things will stand as they were left. Vague enough?

In terms of the movie's execution, it's hard to imagine the filmmakers doing a better job utilizing what seems like one of the biggest casts of "A" names ever. Every single superhero has his moments to shine; with so much story and so many characters, the film necessarily runs two hours and 40 minutes, yet it doesn't feel unduly long.

There's great pleasure to be found in Thor (Chris Hemsworth) joining forces with Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) trading snark with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), and the intellectual Doctor Strange interacting with the teenage Spider-Man (Tom Holland). And is there anything more delightful than the earnest response of Captain America (Chris Evans) to "I am Groot"?

Elizabeth Olsen particularly has moments to shine in an emotional performance as the Scarlet Witch. Also on hand are the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansen), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Heimdall (Idris Elba), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nebula (Karen Gillan), Drax (Dave Bautista), Bucky (Sebastian Stan), Wong (Benedict Wong), and more. We even get a scene with Tony and Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) early on.

That said, there are two key Avengers missing this go-round, who ostensibly will show up to help in Part 2. Fellow fans are probably aware of who they are or can figure out their identities by process of elimination, noticing who's not mentioned in this review.

There's quite a bit of the trademark Avengers humor but in the end it's an intense story which can be a bit of a tough watch. One definitely leaves the theater in a somber mood. How I ultimately feel about this film will have quite a bit to do with my reaction to Part 2 when it's released in May 2019. It's really all one big story, and it's far from over at this juncture. I'm hoping for a rousing RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983) feel to Part 2. (Update: The release of Part 2, now titled AVENGERS: ENDGAME, has been moved up to April 26, 2019.)

As always with Marvel films, stay to the very, very end of the movie. There's only one credits sequence tag, but it's a doozy which is especially rewarding for longtime Marvel fans.

Speaking of fans, newcomers can jump into the Marvel series with any number of the various prior movies and quickly get up to speed, as I did. That said, this film, more than any other, is where all Marvel roads meet and is emphatically not the point at which to begin watching the movies.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR was directed by Anthony and Joe Russo. It was filmed by Trent Opaloch. The musical score was by Alan Silvestri.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13. As Marvel films go, it's on the more disturbing end of things; the violence isn't particularly graphic but much suffering is involved. On the positive side, it hardly needs to be said that there are countless exhibitions of bravery, teamwork, and, yes, love among our heroes.

A trailer is here.

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR opened to strong reviews. In a 3-1/2 star review at USA Today Brian Truitt calls the film "a full-fledged Shakespearean tragedy" and also writes that it's "a glorious, multilayered and clever comic-book adventure with loads of emotional stakes...nobody gets left behind in the storytelling." Leonard Maltin called it "an overpowering experience" and adds "Marvel has lived up to its reputation for daring its filmmakers to break boundaries, and trusting its audience to go along for the ride."


Coming from Marvel this summer: ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (2018).


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Friday was the day of a major windstorm in Ontario, but the big deal for me was that my daughter and I went to see Avengers: Infinity War (her second screening). She says she likes to check these things out to be sure I will like them. I'm not sure I go for that logic.

My sentiments echo yours, and that critic you quoted. Shakespeare came to my mind. I adored little things such as Steve's reaction to Groot. I was upset by occurrences, yet I know that with more story to come that things may change, perhaps just not as I would wish. I have enjoyed this Marvel Universe and am ready to go where they want to take me.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your feedback on the movie! I agree with you -- I said to my daughter today that so far Marvel hasn't let me down so I'm just going to stay calm and wait for Part 2 (or whatever they call it!). We'll see then where things stand!

Best wishes,

9:37 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

The ending was definitely a downer. You walk away thinking, what did I just see? I had to come home and look things up. For instance I did not remember Scarlet Witch and Vision and yet they had huge roles in this. I did like the movie overall and, like you, feel it will resolve (I least I hope so!) when part 2 comes out. I also needed to look up the explanation of what we saw on the tag ending - now that sounds interesting! I will probably have to watch the DVD when it comes out as some of the funny, throw away lines went by much too quickly for me. When I used to watch these types of movies with my brother (who understood the whole Marvel universe both movies and comics), I always needed to watch them again to pick up on things I missed or didn't understand.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Hamlette (Rachel) said...

I came out of the theater feeling like I'd been run over by a steamroller. My best friend came out filled with boundless creative energy. We found this disparity pretty amusing, hee. Overall, I am looking forward to a second viewing because now I know what happens and can quit stressing out over it -- and I can spend a whole year stressing out over what will happen in part two! Fun, fun, fun?

6:26 AM  
Blogger Joel Williams said...

Goodness, you're a much braver soul than I am :)

3:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Irene, I've found at least since CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (which was one of the first Marvels I saw in a theater) that I need to watch them again on Blu-ray just to pick up all the lines and asides -- besides things going quickly, due to the sound balancing the quiet moments in the theater are too low for me to catch everything. I think it must be so they don't blast us out of our seats in the action scenes, but it's frustrating. (I saw 17 movies at multiple venues at the TCM Fest without any difficulty hearing the dialogue, it seems a problem unique to action films like these. My husband picks up more of the throwaway lines and quiet bits than I do but he said he could definitely understand the issue when we saw this one.) You must especially miss being able to share movies like this with your brother; again, I'm so sorry about your loss. I'm glad you came here to discuss it!

Hamlette, thanks for sharing your reaction. Like you, I enjoy it more a second time not stressing about what will happen. I'm very spoiler-friendly for that reason although I did avoid looking to see what would happen before this movie, I was afraid if I knew I might not go at all! LOL.

LOL Joel! But you're much braver than I am about the midnight movie fare at TCM Fest!! ;)

Best wishes,

7:29 PM  

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