Movie Review: Third 'Avengers' is a stunningly well-made feature
In 2012, the folks behind Marvel managed to put together numerous superheroes in one film and made it all work in "The Avengers."
This time around, in "Infinity War," they use a lot of that same formula on a much bigger scale and even though there's so much more going on, it still fires on all cylinders.
The latest "Avengers" takes place directly after the events of last year's movie "Thor: Ragnarok." In fact, the opening of "Infinity War" was even teased in "Ragnarok." We soon find out that Thor (Chris Hemsworth), along with his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are under siege by the powerful character Thanos (Josh Brolin).
We first saw Thanos at the very end of the first "Avengers." Since then, Thanos has been spotted here and there throughout the Marvel movies. His main goal, the audience soon learns, is to collect all six of the Infinity Stones (again, which have been spotted in all the Marvel films), which will give him arguably unlimited power.
The massive threat immediately thrusts all of the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy into action, with many of them splitting up to face off with Thanos and his minions, who attack Earth and other parts of space.
Just to keep tabs, we have these Avengers: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, a.k.a Iron Man; Hemsworth as Thor; Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, a.k.a the Hulk; Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, a.k.a. Captain America; Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow; Don Cheadle as James Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine; Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange; Chadwick Boseman as Wakanda King T'Challa, a.k.a. Black Panther; Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, a.k.a. the Winter Soldier; Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon; Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch; Paul Bettany as the android Vision; Tom Holland as Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man.
Then the Guardians of the Galaxy: Chris Pratt as Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord; Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon; Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer; Zoe Saldana as Gamora; Karen Gillan as Nebula; Vin Diesel as Groot; Pom Klementieff as Mantis.
So, right from the plot synopsis, it's apparent that "Infinity War" isn't the most accessible movie by itself. While a person doesn't need to have seen every Marvel film to know what's going on, they will have to have watched at least a few of the most recent features because this movie dives right into the story and it doesn't let up until the credits roll.
As someone who's watched all 18 Marvel pictures, this wasn't much of an issue for myself, but others could find this a bit difficult to access. Rushing right into the thick of it when it comes to the story leads to another problem, too.
"Infinity War" doesn't exactly line up in a three-act structure, with a beginning, middle and end. Instead, because there are so many characters with agendas, this "Avengers" goes in a sort of episodic direction. This means that instead of having a slow opening, something major happening in the middle and a big climax, the movie basically has something important in every scene. While this is no doubt exciting, it can also be a little bit exhausting.
Alright, now that the negatives are out of the way, let's get into the positives. "Avengers: Infinity War" is one of the greatest blockbuster films of all time.
Is there a lot going on to the point where you walk out of the theater a bit drained emotionally? Yes. Is it worth it? Hell, yes.
First of all, it's incredible how well the story managed to flow here with so many characters. All of the character arcs and relationships from their previous films are brought up here and given proper screen time. From Star-Lord and Gamora's relationship to Captain America returning to the spotlight and even War Machine's recovery from an injury he suffered in "Captain America: Civil War."
Along with all of the lead characters getting their own growth, the movie also has enough time to have a rather compelling story with multiple components. Everything fits like a glove (or gauntlet for that matter), with the timing of events all correlating really well. For example, a battle on Earth coincides perfectly with a mission Thor is on for a well-placed climax.
Stealing much of the show from the lead characters, though, is Thanos, who makes for an incredible villain. His motivations for his schemes are fully explored and given a proper amount of depth. It's revealed that he really believes there's a meaning to his madness and the character commits wholeheartedly to it. It has to also be noted that Brolin does great work here. Even as a giant purple, computer-generated alien, Brolin's work with motion-capture technology and his voice performance give credibility to the character.
As I mentioned in my lede, what really drives "Infinity War," though, is the same formula that powered the first "Avengers." At the end of the day, throughout all the talk of magic space rocks and alien invasions, the meetings and interactions between the characters are the real highlights.
From Thor working alongside Rocket to Iron Man meeting Star-Lord and even Banner speaking with the other Avengers and learning what happened since he's been gone, it's all entertaining, funny and it provides the movie with some heart.
Those latter two aspects are especially integral to "Infinity War," as this is a dark film with some truly heart-wrenching moments. There are some very emotionally intense sequences featured in this flick and it just adds another layer to the whole product.
Oh, also there's this whole thing about the movie being a summer blockbuster. Along with all of those other aspects, this movie delivers on everything a Marvel fan could dream of in terms of action scenes. From the opening scrimmages with Thanos' generals to the major battle at Wakanda and even the final face-off with the big bad, they're all really well done.
Again, like the first "Avengers," these action sequences were bolstered by seeing our favorite characters fighting side-by-side, such as Captain America and Black Panther working together or War Machine and Falcon giving air support. As the movie also has some moments taking place in space, co-writers and co-directors Anthony and Joe Russo were able to add a bit more visual flair in the background with some far-out worlds.
If I had a complaint for the action, it's that some of the editing did get a little bit choppy to where you couldn't see every punch land. In that sense, maybe some slow-motion shots might have helped. However, that's an incredibly minor complaint.
The Russo brothers did an extraordinary job with this, and so did the rest of the crew and especially the cast. This is an immense project and it came together phenomenally well. The movie even throws in some surprises like an unexpected character from a previous Marvel film and a small, but meaningful appearance by Peter Dinklage.
I wouldn't say it's perfect, but it is damn close. Considering everything this had to tackle, that's really saying something. Five out of five stars.