Having moved on from the topic of mythology, this month we’re looking at cosmic threats and adventurers, in part to coincide with the release of the monumental Avengers: Infinity War.
I must confess that I struggled to think of an appropriate opening post to kick off the theme, but realised that perhaps the most appropriate ‘extra’ this month would be my review of said film.
So here it is, as we move into ‘Cosmic Month’, starting with Thanos/Infinity Week, here’s my review of Avengers: Infinity War, originally posted on my other blog Moungabio Movie Talk, if you liked this review, there are plenty of others going on there, including reviews of most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies and the entire Star Wars saga.
I also recently wrote a ‘Top Five Marvel Movies/Five Marvel Movies to watch before Infinity War‘ piece over at Cultured Vultures, so why not check that out too!
RELEASED: April 26th 2017
DIRECTED BY: The Russo Brothers
WRITTEN BY: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
PRODUCED BY: Kevin Feige
STARRING: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pratt, Don Cheadle, Zoe Saldana, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Chadwick Boseman, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Peter Dinklage, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, Benecio del Toro, Tom Hiddleston, Karen Gillen, Idris Elba, Benedict Wong, Sebastian Stan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Letitia Wainwright, William Hurt & Josh Brolin
Wow, just wow.
Back in 2012, the world watched in awe as Joss Whedon assembled the six Avengers. In 2016, the Russo Brothers brought together twelve heroes to throw down over the Sokovia Accords, and it was even more exciting. Two years on, and the Russo Brothers now have nineteen heroes under their command (and that’s not even including the various other side-characters like Wong, Okoye and so on) and would you believe, they’ve somehow managed to pull it off again. But this time, it’s even better.
After his various lackeys fail to claim the Infinity Stones in Avengers Assemble and Guardians of the Galaxy, Thanos leads his children on a cosmic rampage towards Earth to finally complete his spiritual journey to gain ultimate power. With the Avengers shattered after the events of Captain America: Civil War, what hope do the remaining heroes have against this threat of unspeakable proportions, even with the help of Star-Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy?
Although they’ve never assembled a cast on this scale, perhaps the biggest thing standing in the way of this movie succeeding was not it’s mass of heroes, but it’s villain, Thanos, played by Josh Brolin. Despite having popped up a couple of times over the past ten years, there was very little we knew about this villain-to-end-all-villains, bar the fact he wanted the Infinity Stones and was Gamora’s adoptive dad. There was a lot of work that needed to be done when building a threat that could hold up against Marvel’s two teams of heroes, and fortunately, you can see that that work has been done.
The writers of this film, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, have previously described this movie as a ‘Thanos movie’, and in a way it is. Of course, the events aren’t told entirely from his perspective, but you get a lot of insight into this character, the way others perceive him, his motivations and the things he truly cares about. And while you (hopefully) cannot relate to his end-goal of wanting to wipe out half the population of the cosmos, when you hear Brolin’s gruff, pained voice lecturing the heroes, you can understand what might drive a person/alien/conqueror to such nefarious goals.
Furthermore, on top of what’s inside, Thanos shows himself to be a physically formidable foe. He proves his power almost straight away, and doesn’t let up until the film’s climax. The brutality behind this character makes you honestly fear for the fates of the heroes, and with the marketing warning you that ‘the end is near’, you go into a lot of the fights (or even just the dialogues between characters) half expecting someone to come out of them dead.
Fortunately, this is helped by the fact that the film actually does have stakes. Characters die, but not just as a byproduct of wanton destruction – they are good deaths. There’s heart and emotion behind them. Each one is meaningful and poignant, even the ones you don’t neccessarily think you’d care about.
That’s because the story and writing behind this film is well crafted. In a movie which basically revolves around a villain chasing macguffins, it’s nice to see that every choice isn’t based around advancing the plot, so much as advancing these characters (and seeing different and unexpected groupings bounce off of each other). Of course, with so many running around, not all of them get as much time to shine, but the ones that do let you see raw, untapped sides to them that you may have seen before, but never on this level. The primary benefactors of this are Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy, who feature in some of the best scenes this movie has to offer. You can tell that the writers have a good time writing all of these heroes, but it really shines through when these seven are at the forefront – and unlike in Guardians Vol. 2 or Thor: The Dark World, humour never gets in the way. That’s not to say this film isn’t funny; it is, but it’s not the cringey, moment-ruining humour that can sometimes pop up in these films.
The actual production is also incredibly impressive. The pacing never leaves you wanting, hitting beat after beat in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming, but also like you’re not missing out on your favourite characters for too long – which is important for a movie with a two hour, forty minute run-time. As has always been the case with the Russo Brother’s Marvel movies, the action and fight choreography is excellent, with this film containing
some of the best fights in the Marvel universe. While it does sometimes seem unlikely that certain characters could hold their own against Thanos or his children, leaning things too far in their favour would probably make for a less enjoyable experience overall. Plus those that can hold their own? Boy do they cut loose – best Doctor Strange and Thor sequences in the series thus far.
This brings us to another, perhaps final, important facet of this film. The look.
With Doctor Strange, the Guardians series and Thor: Ragnarok having paved the way, the visuals in this film are beautiful; whether that be the creative use of different character’s powers, the strange new worlds the story takes us too, or even the appearances of different characters, this is perhaps one of the best three looking Marvel movies.
If I had to take issue with anything, it’s that towards the end it became evident that this film, for all it’s glory, was definitely just ‘part one of two’. It does have a distinct beginning, middle and end, but the overarching story has yet to be finished. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, gosh darn it, I do not want to have to wait another year for Avengers 4.
A more general problem would be that if you haven’t watched any of these films before, this may well make no sense to you. But if you’re only just planning on jumping in here then you’ve made some bad life choices – so that’s on you.
All-in-all, I give it:
For being a real fun time, with heart, stakes and consequence, that overall once again emphasises that the key to Marvel’s success is putting character first.