Avengers: Infinity War Review

Avengers: Infinity War Review
(3.5 STARS)

I haven’t truly loved an Avengers film yet. Both 2012’s original and Age of Ultron came out of the oven burnt and overdone. In an effort to give everyone a moment, the filmmakers made “moments” meaningless. (This was exacerbated in Marvel’s nadir: Captain America: Civil War.) With Infinity War, directors Joe and Anthony Russo say loud and clear: This movie and franchise has a star, and his name is Thor, motherfuckers.

While John Hero and Jane Hero are off fighting in Wakanda or outer space or New York City, Thor goes off on his own adventure. Yes, he has a sidekick rabbit raccoon, but in the wake of the destruction of his home planet and the death of his brother, Loki, which kicks off Infinity War with a surprising bang, Thor must find new strength to save the rest of the universe from suffering a fate similar to that of his own world.

That’s not to say the rest of the Avengers and their friends don’t do anything. Together for the first time all in one film, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), and the Guardians of the Galaxy (you know them) join forces to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from acquiring and using the six Infinity Stones to more or less erase half of the population of the universe at random. He believes that life is too plentiful and resources are too scarce. The only fair way to prevent suffering is to let fate decide who stays and who goes. He believes his mission is noble, and when he’s done, he plans to rest.

Gamora (Zoe Saldana) knows far too well the lengths to which Thanos will go to accomplish his goals. He adopted her after wiping out her planet (and family) many years ago, and as the keeper of the secret of the Soul Stone, she becomes one of the most valuable and sought after individuals in the universe.

I was prepared for Infinity War to be really heavy on life-or-death action, and it is. The Wakanda fight is as large in scope as anything this franchise (or most others) has produced, and the attempt on Thanos’ home planet (either engineered by Iron Man or Star Lord, depending on who you ask) is well-choreographed, fun, and ultimately very emotional. (That said, count me on team “Star Lord fucked up.”)

What I wasn’t ready for was a film that was as funny as any past Marvel adventure. Doctor Strange and Iron Man is a pairing I didn’t know I needed, but now I want, no, need more, please and thank you. And the Guardians are actually funnier here than any in previous Guardians film (small doses and such).

The film doesn’t feel as polished as Black Panther, its immediate predecessor and the obvious king of the Marvel mountain, but it sort of needs to hit a beat and move along to the next one in order to get every place it needs to. I realize that’s a recipe for a bad movie, generally speaking, but in this case, all these characters, so familiar to us from our 10-year history with them, make this journey with such swagger that you can’t help but get swept up in it. And along with an audience, Infinity War will be hard to top this summer for shared experiences.

There’s an obvious out associated with the film that will undoubtedly sap it of some of its power, as well as its unique brand of hopelessness, when future installments complete this story. But that doesn’t—or at least it shouldn’t—take away from what was a genuine thrill ride. It will have a really hard time beating this one next time out, but, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, I think Marvel’s prepared and that the Russos are up to the job.

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