Movie Review: Avengers Infinity War



The biggest Marvel film ever is finally here…

With ten years of experience and 19 films under it’s belt, Marvel Studios seems too big to fail. And while you might expect the quality of these high-powered action flicks to go down as they pump out more and more of them each year (and rake in the cash with every new release), the superhero juggernaut  has yet to stumble. Each new film seems bigger and better than the last, and their quality (both of production and of story) has gone up, if anything.

We knew this was coming: the crossover to end all crossovers. All the heroes in one big movie, facing off against a single villain with the power to snuff out half the life in the universe with a snap of his fingers.

Quite frankly, this movie could have been an enormous mess. There are about 40 speaking roles in this two-and-a-half-hour film, and if you don’t think that sounds like a lot, trust me, it is. Trying to work all these characters into a cohesive plot encompassing their motivations, past actions, and new revelations and plot twists is certainly a daunting task. Add in the fact that you’ve got rabid fans breathing down your neck, picking every trailer and press release to shreds and theorizing about everything, and it’s got to be quite a feat to formulate a unique and compelling film with plot twists to surprise even the most die-hard theorists.

Now, I’m not saying that Marvel was able to do that, at least not entirely. Just about everything has been done before in the comics at some point, so it would have been ridiculously difficult to come up with a totally new storyline for these characters. However, what the writers of Infinity War have done is to take a lot of storylines from the comics, weave them together, and then take the liberty to play fast and loose with fans’ expectations, the order of events, and with who they’ve killed off. I’m not going to totally spoil it here, but let’s just say that within the first five minutes of the film, two fan-favorite characters are already dead, and I actually really respect this choice. You want the stakes to be sky high in a film like this.

Thanos, the all-powerful main villain of the Marvel franchise, has been quite depowered from his godlike status in the comics. While he is more than a match for any one hero on their own, working together they are able to keep him at bay, at least for a little while. While Thanos grows more powerful throughout the course of the film, I don’t think that he is overpowered. There’s a really good give and take, a continual question of whether or not our heroes will be able to defeat him, and the stakes do feel very real. I didn’t think that anything in the film was played out just to make it longer, if that makes sense. Every fight happens for a reason. Every character dies for a reason. There are no superfluous moments bogging down what is already a massive storyline.

Another interesting thing about this film is that it’s Thanos who really steals the show. While you could try to pick a main character out of our legion of superheroes, Infinity War is really Thanos’s movie. I’ve heard people have called him a relateable character, but I don’t think that’s the correct term. He is sympathetic, even while he is terribly twisted and evil. He may be the most well-rounded villain Marvel has ever brought to the screen. It would have been very easy to make him a simple cardboard-cutout baddie for our heroes to battle against, but his depth of character and sympathetic nature are a huge factor in what made this film so good.

We never actually get all of the superheroes together in one big scene, which is fine, because that would have been completely overwhelming. Everyone gets kind of split into groups going after different objectives, and you’d think that might get confusing, but the each storyline balances very well with all the others, and it never feels like we’re getting too much of one group and not enough of the others. While most of the action scenes in Infinity War are absolutely cut the shreds (a complaint that I have with most Marvel films), the action, humor, and emotional moments of the film are perfectly balanced. It is neither overly humorous (like Thor: Ragnarok) nor overly dark and dismal.

I guess you could complain that in order to understand Infinity War you have to have seen all 18 of the previous films, but the story is so rich and so intricately and masterfully woven together throughout this franchise that, in my mind, it’s worth it. Unfortunately, at this point I haven’t seen either of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, so I did feel like I was missing out a bit on all the character dynamics and story from that group. But that’s totally on me, and not the film’s fault at all. If you are going to see Infinity War, I would definitely recommend watching (or re-watching) the other films first, just so you don’t miss out on any of the brilliance of the biggest (best?) Marvel film yet.

Now we’ve just got to wait for Part 2…

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars!

“To infinity, and beyond!”

Content note: As with most Marvel films, there is quite a bit of fantasy/sci-fi action violence in this film, as well as some bad language, and a bit of crude humor. I would definitely recommend caution for younger children.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Avengers: Infinity War! Have you gotten to see the movie yet? Did they kill off your favorite character? (The pain is real…) Let’s chat in the comments!

See you again soon.


Movie Review: Captain America Civil War

We sat there, in the dark, perhaps a hundred or so people crammed into the room, clutching popcorn and drinks, silent except for the few excited whispers and anticipatory giggles. A hundred people, jolted out of their world of cell phones and personal devices, about to be immersed, together, in an emotionally wrenching experience.

As a big fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of course I was excited to be seeing the new Captain America movie at our little town theater. I was expecting jokes and fights and a climatic faceoff between Team Cap and Team Iron Man, still not exactly sure why they were fighting, but really sure it was going to be cool. To tell the truth, I was expecting the clash of the heroes to be the real thing everyone was there for, the real reason for the film, not really knowing if there was going to be a truly credible reason for the Avengers to split up and battle each other, wondering which side was going to be painted as the villain, and who painted as the victim.

But the people at Marvel always seem to be one step ahead. After a cryptic prologue, we’re dropped into a cityscape, watching as the Avengers, undercover, try to thwart a terrorist attack. Things go wrong, of course, and one superhero is unable to control their powers, destroying a still-inhabited apartment building. This is what sets off the civil war, as the Avengers become divided over the issue of safety, and whether or not they should continue to operate without supervision. Iron Man fears that without legislation, the Avengers would be too powerful, and harm more people, but Captain America fears the opposite, that they might not be able to save people if they are under tight legal constraint. Add to the mix the fact that Cap’s old friend Bucky, who was once the assassin Winter Soldier, is suspected of instigating the terrorist attack, and Team Iron Man want to bring him in. And so begins a civil war of epic, or, if I may, marvelous proportions, with all the twists, turns, conflict and humor we’ve come to expect of a Marvel film thrown in.

Watching the film, there, with people I don’t know, laughing, gasping, sharing silence, disconnected from our own little personal, divisive devices, was something communal, something we all shared. All watching the same story masterfully played out on that big, communal screen, each drawing our own conclusions, finding our own hidden messages, feeling our own pain, cheering on our own heroes, calling for them to get up when they fall. I don’t know how you feel about watching a movie in a theater, but it gives me a feeling of connections, of community, not just with the people sitting next to me, but even those across the country, or the world, who may be watching. And not just watching passively, like they might when they get the movie on DVD in a few months and stick it in their computers and sit and watch it alone, but engaged, laughing at the jokes, hurting when a hero falls, imaging those bullets punching through their skin, wondering if they’d be strong enough to take it, strong enough to handle great power, and the great responsibility that entails. They can identify with these heroes. Perhaps it is only I who think about these things, but I really hope it isn’t.

And that is why I am so glad that Iron Man is not just a complete and utter stuck up, arrogant, narcissistic idiot, and Cap is not the perfect, all-American, admirable and flawless hero. Both of them make mistakes, and both will make more. There is bad on both sides, and a little good, too. There is heartache, and sadness, and humor, and loss, all the ingredients of good entertainment, which can be taken home and unpacked and thought about and discussed.  And though we may never know who was completely right, and who completely wrong, I rest assured that Marvel has once again brought real conflicts, real issues, real stories, real pain, and real people to the big screen in a great, and, if I may say so, a superhuman way.