FILM REVIEW: Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

The Verse’s Oliver Pendlington tells us what he thought of Avengers: Infinity War

Directors: Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.
Screenplay: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle. Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira. Letitia Wright, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Peter Dinklage, Benedict Wong, Pom Klementieff. Karen Gillan, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper. Gwyneth Paltrow, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin and Chris Pratt.

Story: Galactic warlord Thanos (Brolin) embarks on his quest to capture the six Infinity Stones. He wants to use them to alter reality to his will. The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and all their allies unite in the ultimate battle for the universe.

Over the last year or so, Avengers: Infinity War has perhaps generated more anticipation than every other Marvel Cinematic Universe film put together. This is understandable as it has been hyped as the perfect ending of a 10-year-old franchise that has revolutionised cinematic serial storytelling. In all fairness, the final product is an overstuffed affair. It brings together almost every major hero across Marvel’s universe into a pretty simple concept. But stunningly, directors Anthony and Joe Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have risen to the challenge. Like with The Winter Soldier (2014) and Civil War (2016),  they elevated it into something unforgettable and game-changing that can make its flaws forgivable.

The plot itself is a classic ‘hero’s journey’ formula: someone takes a quest and others try to stop him. But one of Infinity War’s strengths is how it plays around with this by having the villain take the quest and the heroes trying to stop him. Added to this are some genuinely shocking plot turns and powerfully emotional weight, something Marvel hasn’t always used strongly in the past. It’s a neat reverse in a superhero film that largely relies on a lot of humour and enormous battles, both established generic staples. But here too, the humour lands and the battle scenes feel distinct than previous examples. One plays out like a horror film while another is similar to Classical Hollywood’s epics. Anchored by Alan Silvestri’s sweeping score, the excitement never lags despite its 149-minute runtime.

Of course, all this weight relies on the ensemble cast of characters featured. While primarily an Avengers film, even the Guardians of the Galaxy have a bigger role than expected. Through all the affection they’ve garnered over the past 10 years, the characters all carry every joke and heartbeat superbly. The interactions are sublime: Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) clashing with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) encountering those aforementioned Guardians.  Seeing all these different characters, all played by A-game talent, interact seamlessly is amazing. Admittedly, they have developed some better than others. Thor has perhaps the strongest character arc. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is far more fleshed out than in both Guardians films. While Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) feels underused in comparison. But the audience can forgive this by the fact that everyone does get his or her moment to shine.

However, there is one character who surpasses them all: Thanos himself. Despite having a motion-capture role, Josh Brolin gives the film’s best performance. Playing Marvel’s most nuanced and intimidating villain who feels more in league with Darth Vader than most of Marvel’s rogue’s gallery. By having a really frightening and unstoppable villain, the film plays its trump card with its finale certain to leave a stronger overwhelmed feeling than any previous Marvel ending. But it’s perhaps best not to think of what lies ahead yet. Whether Avengers: Infinity War is Marvel’s best film can be debated, but it can certainly be viewed as its magnum opus for all its flaws.

Rating: 5/5

The Verse Staff

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