Spoiler-Free Review: Avengers: Infinity War Is a Gutsy Movie Full of Surprises
4 out of 5 Infinity Stones.
I’ve been writing about Infinity War for the better part of a year, but I was not prepared for what it had in store. I stared at it slack-jawed for the last ten minutes, astonished at the places where Marvel took this film.
It’s nearly impossible to review Infinity War without giving away the things that you’ll want to find out for yourself. It’s also relatively easy to review Infinity War: if you’re a fan of the MCU, you’re probably going to like Infinity War. If you’re not into superhero movies, it will probably seem incoherent, much too busy, and confuse the hell out of you. There are two kinds of people, and two ways to view Infinity War.
For those of us who are fans of the MCU, Infinity War is a sprawling culmination of 10 years of build-up. All the characters that we know and love are there, and many of them get to interact for the first time. That’s worth the price of a ticket alone.
After the screening, I asked two young women who had never seen another Marvel movie before what they thought. “I get the whole superhero thing now,” said one. “It’s never boring,” said the other.
Infinity War could be subtitled I Was Never Bored. The film moves at a fast clip, and two and a half hours vanish before you know it. It darts between a daunting number of locations, from New York and Edinburgh and Wakanda to many, many locales in space. Title cards remind us where we are, because it can be difficult to keep track. This is a Marvel movie on an epic scale, and the Russo brothers don’t want you to forget that; they are also making homages to many other movies. They want you to think of films like Star Wars and Indiana Jones and Aliens at certain junctures. Since it moves around so much, Infinity War can seem uneven at times and like many different movies pieced together. But you won’t be bored.
Because I feel like I can’t write about the plot without giving too much away—and you already know the basics, that bad purple guy Thanos wants to assemble the all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet in order to do away with half of the population of the universe, and the Avengers want to stop him—I’ll hit upon what I liked and didn’t like.
- The Guardians of the Galaxy. They really shine here. They’re given more screentime than some of our main Avengers, and in many ways, this feels like a Guardians of the Galaxy movie with some cameos from Earth.
- In that same vein, Rocket and Groot—on a roadtrip with Thor for much of Infinity War—are standouts from the Guardians pack.
- The contrived superhero strife of Civil War is easily forgotten, as it should be.
- I don’t know about Thanos being the best villain in the MCU’s history, as the Russos kept insisting. I think Killmonger and Loki still get to share that crown. Thanos is certainly more nuanced than many of Marvel’s villains, although he seems to flash back and forth from “sad dad” to “genocidal maniac” enough that you get whiplash. Josh Brolin does what he can, but it’s a damned shame about his CGI chin. Still, they’ve certainly made for a memorable character.
- Wakanda is glorious, and everything about Wakanda and everyone who lives in Wakanda is glorious.
- Many of my faves here are new faves for me: Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch bring the magic, and I may be a Tony Stark fan again for the first time since Avengers in 2012. Robert Downey Jr. gives his best performance as Tony yet, surprisingly softened after Tony’s arrogant bluster in Civil War.
- STAY UNTIL AFTER THE CREDITS FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING. You’ll probably be sitting and staring as you try to process anyway, but just a reminder.
- Thor is one of my favorite characters, but it seems like he’s in another movie entirely—he’s in a quest narrative—and I’m not sure that quest movie works or is necessary as part of Infinity War. It’s hard not to feel like his plotline could’ve been resolved in 5 minutes, and there were several scenes for him that were meant to be dramatic when the audience laughed instead. I miss the incarnation of Thor from Ragnarok a lot already. But at least his interactions with Rocket and Groot redeem the subplot, proving once again that Chris Hemsworth is best made for comedy.
- Some of the Avengers are surprisingly underused, considering that this is titled Avengers: Infinity War. It seems like Rocket Raccoon has more lines than Captain America, though that might just be what’s sticking in my head because Rocket is incredible here.
- Not nearly enough Captain America. See above. Underutilizing Chris Evans should be illegal.
- If you don’t know these movies or characters, you are going to be extremely confused. No one really gets any kind of introduction or explanation of their powers. Unlike, say, Black Panther, which was very much its own world apart from the MCU, Infinity War relies on you knowing everything about everyone going in. If you’re bringing a non-MCU friend with you, prepare for a lot of “Huh?” questions.
Ultimately, Infinity War is very much a Part One movie. It’s not hard to see why they filmed this and Avengers 4 back-to-back and why Avengers 4 was initially supposed to be Infinity War: Part Two. We’re going to need that as-yet-untitled next movie in order to be fully satisfied.
But the end of Infinity War is earned, and it’s going to blow you away. All I can really tell you about this film is that I’m seeing it again on Thursday, and I can’t wait.
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