The latest MCU offering is big, ambitious and has me conflicted. Much of what has me torn on Infinity War derives from the pivotal plot points, so this review is going to contain major spoilers... Consider yourself warned.
Generally, I like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What they've accomplished through nineteen movies and counting is impressive. There have been some bumps along the way, but Marvel has managed to create a universe of films that, when at their best, are gripping and emotional, and at their worst still entertaining. Doing what the DCEU was never able to, they transformed these somewhat familiar heroes into fully formed, flawed but relatable characters and, more often than not, placed them into stories highlighting their growth rather than their heroic exploits. The result is a group of fictional people the audience cares about and wants to see more of.
Nothing conveys the audience connection that the MCU has fostered better than the record breaking 250 million dollars 'Avengers: Infinity War' made domestically in its opening weekend. People flocked to the theaters for the newest superhero team up flick and I was one of them, seeing'Avengers' on Friday in a packed theater with a fully engaged crowd. They cheered the arrival of each hero, erupted with laughter at each joke and audibly gasped at the snap of Thanos's fingers. What a fan base Marvel has cultivated.
’Infinity War' Was everything you could reasonably expect, it was dramatic, action packed, funny and even broke the genre mold by sacrificing its heroes. I can say with some certainty that it is a top 5 Marvel film. So why, then, am I conflicted? In breaking that genre mold, directors Matt and Joe Russo attempt to set stakes and follow through on them. While I applaud their effort, the dramatic conclusion to ‘Infinity War’ didn’t work for me. They kill off so many critical characters that it cheapens the effect.
Marvel Studios has become massive. Part of their success has come from their ability to build anticipation better than anyone else, to present an exciting plan and execute on it. The consequence becomes a universal knowledge of exactly which movies, and subsequently which characters, are slated for the coming years. How can Thanos evaporating Peter Parker hold an emotional weight if we know a 'Spider-Man' sequel is in pre-production?
The whole film carefully builds to this dramatic conclusion that isn't really a conclusion at all.' Avengers' is so big it makes its stars feel small. Maybe that's the intent, meant to lend drama to the movie that its genre often lacks. In practice, this size means each character is allotted only a sliver of time, too often not enough to shine in the way they deserve. In fact, much of 'Infinity War' blends together, more a story of Thanos on his treasure hunt than that of the heroes trying to stop him.
I don't mean this as a total rebuke of the movie, rather an airing of grievances because it wasn't as good as it could have been. "Infinity War' is a good movie. It's packed with funny Moments, great action scenes and a worthy adversary. Every interaction between Thor and the Guardians is spectacular. Thanos's subplot with Gamora was genuinely good and could have been great with more time. Of course time for any one subplot was limited as the film was squeezed into 2 hours and 45 minutes. While that sound long, it went by very quickly.
For so long, Marvel has pumped out films that exist simply to make money and set up the next money-making film. Perhaps I was expecting too much from a movie whose sole purpose was teeing up next May's 'Avengers 4.' A whole universe building to a grand finale that just sets up another grand finale. That aside, as a set up, 'Infinity War' did its job. Judging by the carnage unleashed by the Mad Titan at the end of ‘Infinity War’ and by the uncertain contract status of MCU cornerstones, ‘Avengers 4’ has the potential to be great.
Ultimately, 'Infinity War' was entertaining. It was great for a Marvel movie, but I struggle with rating it separate from the MCU. Is it a good film? Certainly it isn't bad, but really thats beside the point. Marvel created a spectacle more than a film and in that it succeeded. Ripped away from the context and judged solely on its cinematic merit, ‘Avengers’ falls short. 6/10