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December 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Marvel Studios
Release Date: April 27, 2018


Movie Review - 'Avengers: Infinity War'

by Adam Pavlacka on April 26, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

The Avengers and their allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Ten years and 18 movies, after Robert Downey Jr., first put on the Iron Man costume, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has reached a milestone. "Captain America: Civil War" set the stage for an epic crossover film, but "Avengers: Infinity War" takes the action and turns it up to 11. Cramming in this many characters was certainly a challenge, but Marvel and the Russo Brothers have managed to pull it off with only a few minor hiccups along the way.

"Infinity War" is the culmination of Thanos's (Josh Brolin) quest for the Infinity Stones. We've seen small bits of Thanos in previous films, and the Infinity Stones have served as plot points across multiple movies in the MCU. If you've been following along, you know the stakes. The fate of the universe hangs in the balance. That said, all 18 movies are not required viewing. While you'll miss out on some of the backstory, the core of "Infinity War" can still stand on its own.

As with most Marvel films, the strength of "Infinity War" is in its character interactions. Amazingly, the directors and writers have managed to accurately preserve the "feel" of each character. When you see Iron Man and Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) interacting, they are spot-on to the characterizations in their solo films. The same is true of every other character in what is a massive ensemble film. Yes, a handful do serve as the core drivers of the plot, but none feel underutilized or are simply there as throwaway references. If they show up on-screen, they have a role to fill. And yes, that means Tom Holland's Spider-Man doesn't miss a chance to remind the older fans in the crowd of exactly how old we are with his pop culture references.

Splitting up the action amongst smaller groups of characters and across multiple locations allows "Infinity War" to move along at a decent clip, while leaving time for the "Marvel humor" that fans have come to expect. If you like witty banter, it's here in spades. There are somber moments. There are serious moments. But there is also plenty of laughter throughout the film.

Surprisingly, the strongest relationship is the unlikely pairing of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper). It's not something you would expect to work, but it does. If Rocket doesn't show up alongside Thor and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in the next Thor film, I'm going to be disappointed. That said, it's easy to be biased in favor of Thor because he shows the greatest character growth from start to finish.

"Infinity War" builds directly on the events of "Thor: Ragnarok" (so much so that the very end of "Ragnarok" is the opening of "Infinity War"), and Thor continues the journey that he started in the prior film. In many ways, his journey is not unlike that of a character in a role-playing game, especially in the way he levels up. Iron Man is the core of the MCU, and Captain America is the heart of the MCU, but Thor is the MVP of "Infinity War." Even Drax (Dave Bautista) thinks so.

The version of Thanos that we see on-screen isn't identical to the comics, but Brolin has done an excellent job of ensuring that the character has the level of depth needed to be a believable villain. Knowing some of the changes, I wasn't expecting much out of Thanos, so it was a nice surprise to see that he wasn't an over-the-top villain in a cartoonish way. Thanos is a man driven, and nothing is going to stop him.

Where "Infinity War" falls short has to do with the crew that does Thanos's bidding. Fans of the comics will recognize Corvus Glaive (Michael James Shaw) and Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon) among the Black Order, but if you're not deep into Marvel lore, the entire Black Order may as well have been nameless flunkies. "Infinity War" doesn't even try to explain who they are or how they got to serving Thanos. They just are.

"Infinity War" also stumbles with the majority of the character deaths. For a film that is more or less the MCU version of "The Empire Strikes Back," only one death really felt like it had any gravitas behind it. The rest all just kind of happened, which made them feel somewhat superfluous.

With that said, parents should be aware of taking young kids to see "Infinity War" if they're heavily invested in the Marvel characters. None of the deaths are gratuitous, but there are plenty of them, so chances are good that one or more of the characters that your kids love aren't going to be around by the end of the film. This was put into clear perspective by the young boy who sat right behind me during the media screening. As the credits rolled, he proclaimed, "That SUCKED!" It was a vivid reminder that kids will likely have different takes on "Infinity War" than adults.

If you're wondering how to best view "Infinity War," it is worth noting that Disney chose to screen the film in a Dolby Theater in 2D. The added color space of Dolby Vision was put to good use in the cosmic scenes, and the Dolby Atmos sound mix shined in the battle scenes. I can't comment on the quality of the 3-D conversion, but nothing really stood out as being ideal for 3-D, so you likely don't need to worry about paying extra for a 3-D showing.

Ultimately, "Avengers: Infinity War" may not be the top film in anyone's personal ranking, but it's likely going to be in the top three of any individual "best of MCU" list. Your favorite film is always going to end up being about your favorite characters (for me, that is the "Guardians of the Galaxy," and for Rainier, that is "Captain America: The First Avenger"), though "Infinity War" is going to trail right behind it.

The only remaining question is, can next year's installment successfully conclude the story that was started here? Marvel may have dropped the "Part 1" from the title, but that doesn't change the fact that "Infinity War" is only one part of a greater whole.

Score: 9.0/10

"Avengers: Infinity War" is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 2 hours and 29 minutes. It is showing in 2-D, 3-D, IMAX, and IMAX 3-D.

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