Thursday, 3 May 2018

Review: Avengers - Infinity War (second-pass)





Avengers: Infinity War (2D / second-pass / Thematic Spoilers)
Cert: 12A / 149 mins / Dir. Joe Russo & Anthony Russo / Trailer



Well, this is awkward. My second-pass review of a movie (particularly one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe variety) is usually an opportunity for me to unpack the contents a little; to try and break down everything which overwhelmed me the first time I watched it; to begin to focus on the cool details without being pulled back into the overriding plot.

But I watched Avengers: Infinity War for the second time on Friday evening, and as I finally write this the following Wednesday I find I don't have too much to add to my initial reactions (hence the five-day procrastination). And it's not that the film bored me - far from it. I gave the Russos team-effort full marks the first time and I stand by that*1. If anything, I probably got slightly more from the second-pass as I was able to enjoy what foreshadowing the relentless pacing allows, running alongside some of our heroes as they hurtle unknowingly to their doom*2. But other than a couple of minor 'how did he get there?' plot-points, the writing and execution is tight enough that it appears I caught pretty much everything at the Midnight-screening. Which, with a character-list of this size, is a gold-plated compliment, not a criticism.

The directorial brothers are adept (and proven so) at handling the in-universe politics, mixed with frantic action and character-appropriate quippery. Luckily, our chief antagonist - the mighty Thanos - is given enough ponderous depth to just about paper over one of the most slapdash Evil Plans ever to grace a cinema screen*3, and he's certainly got more personality than is normally granted to someone of his narrative status.

Infinity War is a precision-engineered rollercoaster of a movie, where every nut, bolt and rail is exactly where it's needed. The film is outstanding.

It's just that… well, as much as I was looking forward to this, and as much as I absolutely loved it - I just wasn't Excited™ before I first watched Infinity War, and my faith in Marvel Studios is such that it didn't surpass my comfortably-high expectations. MCU flicks used to be event-movies. I still remember (precisely a decade ago) grinning like an idiot at the end of Iron Man, when Tony Stark returned to his apartment to find Nick Fury had let himself in, announcing the gameplan from that very first chapter. This was A Thing. Slowly, the pieces came together, and even though Avengers Assemble was little more than a two-hour fight scene, it felt like the culmination of everything we'd watched up to that point. An event.

And sure, Infinity War is the beginning of the payoff for the last ten years of interconnected adventures, and really feels like it. But the paint isn't dry on Black Panther yet, and before this movie has been out a week, Marvel are already starting the promo-push for this Summer's Ant-Man & The Wasp*4.

The bottom line is, when you're putting out three movies per year in the same series, that's not event-cinema, no matter how consistently high the quality (or perhaps because of that consistency). Gone are the days when we could pore at our leisure over each scene looking for Easter Eggs, safe in the knowledge that the DVD/Blu-ray would be out to help us before we could ramp up the excitement for the next chapter. And even if you're only particularly bothered about the MCU strain of superhero, it can still feel a little… well, relentless.

Can you have too much of a good thing? There's only one way to find out*5. The cinematic sausage-machine is now in full production mode, and Marvel sure hope you like sausages…



So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
Well for the purposes of this question, the other MCU movies.


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


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


Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Best is debatable, but this will be a high water-mark.


Will we disagree about this film in a pub?
No, because you'll agree with me.


Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
One of my esteemed colleagues tells me there could be one at the moment when Ebony Maw goes hull-diving. That's not a plot-spoiler, I haven't told you how get gets on. Future passes will confirm of course, but by all means post below if you heard it too.


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


And if I HAD to put a number on it…


*1 I know it's by no means unusual for me to award MCU flicks either a 6 or 7 out of 7, but still. Infinity War really is amazing stuff. [ BACK ]

*2 Because I've marked this review 'thematic' spoilers, I'm not going to name the casualties at this point. Needless to say, I did make a point of compiling a list, as much to see if there was any hidden meaning in their order of exit, as anything else. And you've got to feel sorry for poor old [REDACTED], who got to buy the farm twice[ BACK ]

*3 I don't mean to be ungrateful - really I don't - because the last time we had a big purple Marvel villain trying to take out a huge cast of heroes, his only motivation was to smash shit up for the sake of it, and quite frankly it was boring as hell. But Thanos' plan of "bring balance by killing half the planet" stands up to precisely zero scrutiny. As greater minds than mine have pointed out, over-population isn't the root of the problem mate, that'd be the arseholes in charge. Especially if the killing is as random and indiscriminate as you're claiming. But hey, since when did a flawed supervillain have to have an un-flawed plan, right? We're not supposed to agree with him. I imagine this genius-scheme is what happens when you spend a lot of time sitting in a rock-throne on an asteroid with nothing but Jeremy Kyle and Homes Under The Hammer to watch. Although after that, killing half of humanity seems quite lenient, frankly… [ BACK ]

*4 Which, at the time of writing, is due to open in the US on July 6th, and in the UK on August the 3rd. A month later. The word on the street is that Marvel don't want to compete for viewings with the World Cup. Now, I understand that in the Venn Diagram of entertainment-pursuits, of course there will be some crossover between football and superhero movies, and lord knows that the recent entitled, tantrum-throwing to Star Wars releases have demonstrated that I'm not the petition-signing type. But this kind of bullshit can fuck right off. Either delay the movie globally or not at all, Marvel. And good luck trying to get the casual, less-disciplined audience into the cinema in August when the movie's already been on Sh*wbox for three weeks. Of course I'll be waiting for August, and of course I'll encourage everyone else to do the same. But do I support the month-long lag? Do I fuck.

And yeah, that's how annoyed I get when I have to think about The Sports... [ BACK ]

*5 And no, I'm not giving up on Marvel, and yes, I'll be seeing Infinity War again. But I'm probably going to let the dust settle for a week or two and see how it plays after that. [ BACK ]


DISCLAIMERS:
• ^^^ 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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