Review: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Directed by: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo | 149 minutes | action, adventure | Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, Tom Hiddleston, Paul Bettany, Elisabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Idris Elba, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Peter Dinklage, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff

To get straight to the point: the new ‘Avengers’ film is a success! That’s good news after some qualitatively fluctuating Marvel films, where, for example, the second ‘Avengers’ film: ‘Age of Ultron’ also performed a step lower than its predecessor. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ brings together an almost dizzying collection of superheroes, from Iron Man to Black Panther and from Doctor Strange to the weirdos from the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movies. About twenty super guys and chicks bounce and fly by, all with (sometimes just) different powers and gadgets. And yes, it is indeed a bit much to handle and not everyone gets enough to do, but the brothers Anthony and Joe Russo manage to make it a surprisingly captivating whole with enough reason to keep watching and not let the attention slacken. The second half of the film becomes even more exciting, dramatic, tragic and even moving. Without sacrificing the humor. Not a cold trick.

The first Avengers film will undoubtedly have stayed with many viewers as an unadulterated superhero party. A film full of interesting heroes, who didn’t even have to chuckle at dull or ridiculous looking costumes or powers. No, almost everyone was ‘cool’ and also responsible for a lot of kick ass action and featured in overwhelming ‘set pieces’; the invasion of New York as an unmistakable highlight. Also important: the – now well-known – type of humor of this eclectic bunch of superheroes, especially the bickering among themselves – was very infectious and a not to be underestimated part of the success of the film(s). In later films the humor remained largely present, but the tension and story structure left something to be desired here and there: ‘Age of Ultron’ was a nice reunion, but did not exactly manage to overwhelm. The surprising aspect of seeing all those heroes together was indeed a bit off, but director of the first hour Joss Whedon also seemed to have lost the inspiration a bit. He himself has also admitted that the production of the film had been particularly difficult for him, so it is wise that he handed over the baton to the Russo brothers.

Joe and Anthony Russo have already had some experience with the Marvel heroes. In fact, they are responsible for one of the best films in the Marvel series to date: ‘Captain America: Winter Soldier’. So the direction for this latest Avengers movie seemed to be in good hands and it definitely turns out to be the case. A large part of this review is predictable for the connoisseur (of their work). The action scenes are to die for, the humor works very well, and the pace is good.

It must be said that the first half of the film is quite fragmentary, with one hero after another flying by or coming to the rescue, sometimes without any context worth mentioning. Even when it comes to big characters like Captain America, not always enough attention or time has been taken to highlight their (recent) history. That can make you as a viewer somewhat indifferent about what is happening.

Furthermore, it is sometimes somewhat regrettable that the identities of some heroes – with regard to their powers – are not well distinguishable from each other. Iron Man, for example, now has so many skills and gadgets that it sometimes bears little resemblance to the – industrial, tangible – suit he once started with. It is not very important, but it is nice if the unique characteristics of the heroes remain clearly visible.

Fortunately, when it comes to humor, this film is on familiar ground. Besides Iron Man having a nice friction with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), especially the characters from ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ steal the show. They have a remarkably large part in this film and that is only good news. Raccoon Rocket (who is invariably called ‘rabbit’ by Thor) is nice and dry again and has beautiful – even dramatic – interactions with Thor, whom Star Lord is jealous of and therefore tries to ridicule. Another recurring joke is that no one accepts Star Lord’s authority and things regularly go wrong. Without the Guardians, the film would have become a lot duller and less interesting.

Not least because Gomorah (Zoe Saldana) plays such an important role, as the (foster) daughter of supreme hero Thanos (a capable Josh Brolin). Together, these father and daughter have beautiful dramatic scenes, in which the viewer is concerned about the fate of Gomorah, but also, surprisingly enough, can move somewhat into the mindset of the genocider Thanos; no matter how insane. It is admirable how this mega-plot can still generate some sympathy.

In fact, the closer Thanos gets to his ultimate goal – to collect all the Infinity Stones and wipe out half the universe – the more exciting the movie becomes. From intense one-on-one battles – or one-on-three, four, five, when it comes to Thanos himself, for example – to a big battle on Wakanda, where you as a viewer are really thrown between the fighters and you feel a bit gets a ‘Lord of the Rings’: The Return of the King’ vibe, it gets more and more intense. You also really get the feeling that something is at stake and that our heroes have really found their way and could actually fall in the fight against the all-powerful Thanos (and his sidekicks). And that is sometimes different in these kinds of films.

The ending is also worth mentioning, although it is not the intention that too many details are given here. What can be said is that it ends surprisingly grimly and tragically for some heroes. The way this ending is portrayed is also very confrontational and almost vicariously painful and frightening to experience. It is quite brave to let such a crowdpleasing blockbuster end like this, although it is of course important to realize that it is – perhaps – not the end (for everyone). After all, there will be an ‘Infinity War: part 2’. A part that entire tribes – after seeing this film – will undoubtedly eagerly look forward to.

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