THE STORY – Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.
THE CAST – 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, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin & Chris Pratt
THE TEAM – Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (Directors), Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 149 Minutes
By Matt Neglia
Ten years. Lots of movies and even more characters. And they’re all (Well, almost all) represented here in “Avengers: Infinity War.” It’s the culmination of a decade’s worth of careful planning by Kevin Feige and the rest of the team over at Marvel, to bring all of these characters in the ultimate clash against Thanos, the biggest, baddest and best villain the Marvel universe has ever seen. Yes, it is true that “Avengers: Infinity War” is an appetizer before the main course which is set to come out a year from now. But my lord, what a large appetizer this is. It’s not only the most daring and darkest film the MCU has ever produced, it is also one of the funniest and maybe, just maybe, their best overall.
Set two years after the events of “Captain America: Civil War” and directly after “Thor: Ragnarok,” Thanos (Josh Brolin) finally makes his big entrance into the lives of our heroes in the MCU. His goal is to capture all of the infinity stones and with them, wipe out half of the universe so that order can be restored to save the universe from chaos. Already in possession of some of the stones stones and the others being held with some of our heroes (And another, a complete mystery), Thanos takes the fight to planet Earth, alerting the Avengers, Doctor Strange, the Guardians Of The Galaxy and the people of Wakanda of his presence, as they prepare their defenses for their greatest challenge yet.
Just as how it was some kind of a miracle that Joss Whedon juggled so many characters and plot lines in the first Avengers film back in 2012, the Russo brothers (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Captain America: Civil War”) accomplish the same task but with more than four times the amount of characters in “Avengers: Infinity War.” How do they accomplish this? By separating the characters into their own unique groups. There are two drawbacks to this: 1. Characters you expect to interact with each other never get a chance to do so. 2. Character development takes a backseat to the main plot of this film this time around. Some characters are actually very important to the plot that you would not expect to be initially but given the context of the story and what we know already about these characters, their roles in this mammoth sized film where everyone is fighting for screen time make complete sense. Even at two and a half hours, “Avengers: Infinity War” moves at a breakneck pace as it attempts to tell its story of Thanos and his quest to gather all of the infinity stones so that he can wipe out half of the universe.
The exceptional (And very large) cast are of course great but this film and the Avengers’ asses belong to Thanos. Thanos is given life by Josh Brolin who provides the voice of Thanos and his movements through motion capture. An entirely CGI character, Thanos now stands at the top of the mountain as the great villain ever produced by the MCU. Big, purple and with one hell of a complex motive that makes him startlingly three-dimensional, this movie is not as much owned by the Avengers but by Thanos himself. He might even have the most screen time overall but I cannot confirm this. His presence is felt throughout the film and the feeling is apocalyptic, making this particular Marvel film the grimmest one of all with the highest stakes we’ve seen yet. To reveal anything more would be a spoiler but here’s a word of advice: do your best to see every MCU film ever in the lead up to “Avengers: Infinity War.” The film is made with the expectation that you have which would explain why the film doesn’t attempt to play catch up with any of the characters and gets right to the action. It also should be seen in a theater with a large audience. There were NUMEROUS crowd-pleasing (And surprising) moments filled with cheers, laughter, as well as heartbreaking and shocking moments that had the audience literally screaming at times with horror and tears.
Every character gets a moment to shine, whether it’s through their actions, dialogue or the ever continuing character arcs, some of which, come to an end. To see how far the MCU has come and where it was all heading, even if it is Part 1 to something bigger which will come next year, is an awe-inspiring experience that left me with a mixture of emotions upon leaving the theater. The action is, of course, spectacular but this movie deserves praise for actually managing to capture what (As Peter Parker would say) that very old movie “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” accomplished many years ago. It challenges our heroes, puts them in the darkest place they have ever been and sets the stage for the ultimate finale, or the endgame as it were, next year. It features the boldest and daring ending to a major Hollywood blockbuster I have ever seen. Not only is it the best shot MCU film, with the best emotional beats and some of the best character moments (Small and large), “Avengers: Infinity War” has now officially taken “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” down as my favorite MCU film to date. Bring on Part 2!
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – The biggest and most daring MCU film to date with real emotional stakes. Also the best shot film in terms of its visuals and filled with many crowd-pleasing, shocking and heart wrenching moments. Josh Brolin owns this movie as Thanos. That ending!!
THE BAD – For such a large movie, with such a large cast and such a large running time, it still can feel a tad bit rushed when certain character arcs are put on hold just so we can move the plot forward.
THE OSCARS – Best Visual Effects (Nominated)
THE FINAL SCORE – 8/10