They say too many cooks will spoil the pot, herein meaning the more people you introduce to a project, the more likely it is to go awry. But in the case of Marvel’s latest blockbuster entry, it makes the pot all the sweeter.
I’ll admit I was a non-believer when even the premise for Infinity War was pitched. That many heroes? In one movie? It could never work. They’d be spreading themselves too thin. The relatively tame cast size of the Avengers often times feels a little overstuffed by itself, not including the addition of even more standalone characters and the Guardians team. But people insisted if anybody could pull it off, it would be Marvel, and here we are.
I had two main concerns walking into Infinity War. One, that due to the cast size screen time would be hamfistedly chopped in uneven manners depending on character which would leave many without much to do except deliver a joke now and then. By the end of the first act, I had been thoroughly proven wrong. True, nobody here is getting as much speaking time as they would in their own solo films, or even as much time as they would in a regular Avengers entry. But that’s perfectly okay, because nearly everybody gets a satisfying amount of time both to talk and to fight, and it never feels like anybody is being played as the favorite by the writers. The cast is broken up into roughly 3 sub-groups each following their own subplot within the main story, however they frequently cross paths and the goal of every group feeds into the larger goal of stopping Thanos, so it never feels like anybody’s been sidelined into a pointless B-plot that just amounts to busywork. As well, everybody plays off each other very nicely, with relatively organic dialogue and interactions that largely defies the cliches of crossover specials. You can easily believe all these people exist in the same continuity and universe now, there’s no eye-rolling trickery to justify it like a wormhole to another dimension or some sort of bullshit science-y device to allow people to cross over. Some were fearful having the space-heavy realm of Guardians mesh with the regular MCU would result in them feeling out of place, but it’s clear to me now with how normal they feel being there that last fall’s Thor: Ragnarok (of which a good two acts takes place on an alien planet) was their attempt at slowing easing the two together, and it works marvelously.
My second fear was that after 6 years of buildup, Thanos as a villain could potentially be a let down. After all, that long of a hype period is bound to create some expectations that could be less than the final product. Rest assured, Thanos was well worth the wait. He’s hands down the most interesting villain the MCU has seen so far (which might not sound like much given that this is the same film line that gave us a Pinocchio-quoting robot with human-esque lips and some Russian guy with whips who really likes parrots) and offers a surprising amount of depth for someone who’s purely been billed as the “Ultimate Big Bad” for so long. While he does have great intimidating on-screen presence, never once letting you forget the threat he poses, his goals are surprisingly sympathetic, and open the door to some interesting discussions about when an arguably just idea goes too far. Thanos’ goal, as it is revealed, is to use the stones to “humanely” poof half of the population of the universe out of existence in an attempt to remedy overpopulation, something he sees as chaotic and unbalanced. At one point he even makes it clear that generations on planets born after his slaughter on them never go hungry and have reduced pollution, attempting to justify his extreme actions. I think most would agree attempting to curb overpopulation is a good idea in it of itself, but the film leaves it up to the audience whether or not Thanos is going too far in his pursuit of it or if the population of Earth is simply “too selfish” to see the big picture. As well, as we see in our first real on-screen interactions between Thanos and his (forcibly) adopted daughter Gamora, he does indeed have a genuine soft spot for her. Gamora justifiably hates him for, you know, being a genocidal space warlord, and Thanos indeed is the current #1 contender for the “Worst Dad of All Time” award for making Gamora fight her “siblings” for supremacy, but it’s clear despite not being a good person and his cold motivations that he does view her as one of his own. Gamora may not have grown attached to him, but we see he clearly has an attachment to Gamora, something that alongside his goals adds another sympathetic layer to him.
The action scenes are varied and snappy with a variety of fighting styles, so it never feels like you’re simply watching another overextended shootout. The color grading, while not the best I’ve seen in a Marvel film, allows the colors to pop, especially in more of the space-set scenes where there’s a wider variety of shades to look at. The score brings a return to the Avengers leitmotif, which is frequently used, however I don’t count this as a negative purely because it’s much more memorable than your average MCU score. The CGI is polished, the shots are well-cut, and while it begins to drag a little by the third act (granted, what two hour- thirty minute movie wouldn’t?) it never feels like its too much to handle. To say any more about the plot would spoil what is undoubtedly a somewhat historical film (2nd most expensive film ever made, highest opening weekend in history), and I’m not a jerk, so I’m not going to do that.
Avengers: Infinity War has my wholehearted recommendation as an excellent start to the blockbuster season that will satisfy those even with only a passing interest in superhero films. Granted, it’s not shakespeare, and never once should you go to a Marvel film expecting that, but it’s a well-balanced and well-crafted popcorn flick, and what else can you really ask for from an (early) summer blockbuster with a bunch of heros in it? So, don’t be shy to go see it sometime this week, because lord knows if you don’t the internet and various chatty IMC groups will make sure you don’t have to with how much they spill. However, if you don’t want to rush, Don’t worry! It’s not like your ticket sales are going to matter anyway, considering it already made back its budget within 2 days. See it now, see it later, see it 3 months from now when it comes to one of those teeny discount theaters that play older stuff, but either way, if you want to see it, have no fear: it’s one of the most entertaining films you’ll see this year.