May 1, 2018 – The title of this movie should be “Avengers: Infinity War Part One,” because that is what it is. It is not a movie that stands on its own. It is a leaning monolith that would fall flat without “Part Two” to lean against. That being said, I am all in for seeing Part Two, if for no other reason to see how the filmmakers escape from the hole they dug for themselves in Part One.
There have been a whole series of Marvel Studios films, dating back to “Captain America the First Avenger” (in fact a character from that film unexpectedly shows up in this Infinity War movie) which set the stage for these Infinity War movies. It seems like Marvel has been planning for this big Avengers send off for decades.
In this film, the Avengers, split apart by ideology in the recent Marvel film “Captain America: Civil War,” are reunited by a threat to the entire universe posed by Thanos, an extreme environmentalist who believes the universe is not big enough to adequately support the life it holds. His crazy idea is to kill off half of all life, everywhere, in order to make the universe more healthy. His plan is to acquire the six all-powerful infinity stones, and then kill half of everybody in the universe by literally just snapping his fingers. I know, this is all so crazy, in so many ways.
This insane plan makes Thanos the enemy of pretty much everybody else in the universe, so you'd expect everybody would gang up on this guy and take away his infinity stones, or kill him, or both, in any order that works. Seems simple enough, especially when you have a big bunch of brawny superheroes united against Thanos. But Thanos is a big, powerful guy with lots of tech and minions on his side, and the superheroes aren't very good when it comes to war strategy.
You can probably guess from the introduction to this essay above that this conflict between Thanos and the universe doesn't get entirely resolved in this film. If there is to be a resolution to this Infinity War, pitting the entire universe against Thanos, it will have to happen in the next movie, Part Two.
Following the pattern of the first Avengers movie in 2012, there are a lot of characters to keep track of in this film, including just about every superhero in the Marvel arsenal, and there are a lot of them. In addition, we have some new characters, like Eitri, a giant dwarf (an inside joke, as well as an oxymoron) and weaponsmith, played by Peter Dinklage of “Game of Thrones.” Bad guys include Thanos' minions, Cull Obsidian, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive, played by Terry Notary (who also does the motion capture work for the Groot character) Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Carrie Coon and Michael James Shaw, respectively.
There are not only a lot of characters to keep track of, there are some plot details from previous films, like “Thor: Ragnarok,” that you have to know and remember in some detail in order to keep up with the plot in this film. I have seen all the relevant Marvel films, but some of these details got past me when I was watching this.
This film is two and a half hours long, but it goes by pretty fast since there is not a lot of exposition. There is a lot of action and the pace is fairly brisk. There is the usual amount of jokes, including numerous movie insider jokes and hip cultural references, for this kind of Marvel film, but the humor did not seem to work as well here, perhaps because of the grim, operatic nature of the story.
I suspect the proper way to view this film would have been to watch “Thor: Ragnarok” (and maybe “Captain America: Civil War” as well) just before watching this, and the best way to prepare to watch Part Two is to watch Part One again just before seeing it. I am a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it seems to me this is getting out of hand. This film rates a C+.
A few trivia notes: Paul Bettany, who plays Vision, appears without his Vision makeup and costume in this film in some romantic scenes with Wanda Maximoff (played by Elizabeth Olsen). Captain America (played by Chris Evans) shows up with a beard in this film, so he looks a bit different. Oh, yeah, and of course there is one of those after credits easter egg scenes with Part Two hints.
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