Thursday, 26 April 2018

Review: Avengers - Infinity War (first-pass)

Avengers: Infinity War (3D / first-pass / SPOILER-FREE)
Cert: 12A / 149 mins / Dir. Joe Russo & Anthony Russo / Trailer

Short and sweet; no spoilers; only broad opinions; you know the drill.

Ten years. Nineteen movies. Good lord. Even in this age of media-saturation, the combination of consistent quality and sheer volume that Marvel have achieved with their Cinematic Universe is otherwise unheard of. Even the weaker entries are better than most of their rivals can produce. But have the comic connoisseurs set a bar that only they can reach, or made a vibranium rod for their own backs?

Following directly on from Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War is the culmination of a decade's worth of interconnected storytelling - and the third 'crossover' entry whereby the heroes and villains get together for an almighty two-hour-plus fight scene. This is also the third saga-entry directed by the Russo brothers, Joe and Anthony, after helming Captain America's second and third outings (the latter of which was basically an Avengers movie anyway, to be fair).

So, things come to a head when Thanos finally makes a play to collect all six infinity stones - the reality-bending gems which have been our MacGuffins throughout the story so far. Crossing the galaxy and causing various factions of our favourite heroes to cross paths in the process, alliances are forged, bonds are tested and lines are crossed. This is the supergroup to end all supergroups.

Now it's no spoiler to say that with a run-time of 'only' two and a half hours, there's a lot of plate spinning going on, here. By necessity, Infinity War is a series of separated vignettes, pulling towards a connected conclusion (although again, that's what the whole series has been). The Russos hold things together well and keep everything focused, but the story is - and I mean this in the nicest possible way - absolute mayhem. Other than bursts of reminder-exposition in the first act, there's little in the way of spoon-feeding, and the film relies on its audience being up to speed with the state of the MCU. Every frame of every scene matters, nothing is wasted, and Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely's screenplay deftly combines action, humour and genuine emotion, all soundtracked by Alan Silvestri's majestic score.

The writers' decision to spread events across the cosmos is a wise (and fitting) one, and means that even at its most chaotic, the viewer never loses sight of who's in a scene and why. Little that happens here will necessarily cast a new light on the old movies, but characteristics and relationships we've previously seen are built upon, not just wheeled out for the sake of audience recognition.

And most importantly of all, there is a sense of consequence and finality in this movie. Maybe not all of it, but that's the nature of the beast*1. Crucially, this feels like some questions finally being answered, rather than another episode in a super-soap opera. The MCU can - and will - continue to expand after this, but the ramifications of Thanos will be felt for years to come...


The business-end (not spoilers, but highlight-to-read anyway):

Is there a Wilhelm Scream? If there is, it's not obvious.
Is there a Stan Lee cameo? There is a one, yes.
Is there a mid-credits scene? There isn't a one, no.
Is there a post-credits scene? Yes, there is. Stay for this.

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
The previous eighteen Avengers-timeline movies, to be fair.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
It is.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
All of the above.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
There's perhaps not enough screen-time for any individual to pull a 'best of' badge, but it's all top-drawer stuff.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
Well, that rather depends on you, doesn't it?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
I didn't notice one, but if you did then let me know.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: Dryden Vos is in this.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Because Marvel Studios' announced scheduling-plans are out there for all to see, and I defy anyone to not have a rough idea of that list in the back of their minds while watching Infinity War. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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