Movies

Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War

Endgame, almost.

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Marvel Studios

There's just too much of this thing. Avengers: Infinity War is way overloaded with super-characters (I count at least 20 weighty names, plus plenty of subsidiary ones), and chaotically edited battles (some of which devolve into boring fistfights), and much leaping and hurling and just plain running around. There are too many fireballs and explosions and all-devouring CGI. And it all goes on for two and a half hours.

This is unfortunate, because the story here, in all of its several facets, is unusually appealing. And the movie has more heart-and-soul than you might expect, too, even in a Marvel production. It's possible to love this picture and occasionally grow tired of it, as well. There are worse things.

Most of the Avengers are on hand (Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Spider-Man, and so forth), as are the more comedically inclined Guardians of the Galaxy (Star Lord, Gamora, Groot, Rocket, those guys), and, repping for the latest Marvel blockbuster, Black Panther and his sparky sister Shuri and a couple of other familiar Wakandans). Also deserving of mention is the formidable Doctor Strange, who's unaffiliated, I think, although maybe he's an Avenger now, too, I'm really not sure. (Please do bomb the comments section with expressions of contempt.)

The motor of the main plot this time is the galactic destroyer Thanos, of whom we've heard whispers over the course of the last 18 Marvel movies. I must admit having been a little worried about Thanos after seeing him in the trailer for this film. He's about 10 feet tall, with a puzzlingly striated chin (ported over from the Marvel comics), and he looked to me at first like a big stupid cartoon. However, Thanos is built upon an extraordinary mo-cap performance by the always excellent Josh Brolin, who manages to project the conflicted nature of this character in ways that both solicit and repel our sympathy.

Thanos is on a mission to complete his collection of powerful Infinity Stones, which have been endlessly babbled about for the last 10 years. He already has two of these gems slotted into a cool gauntlet, and he knows that the Avengers and Guardians have access to the other four. Once he has all six, Thanos will be able to shape reality to his desires, and what he desires is to wipe out half of the universe. Why does he want to do this? Because natural resources are finite, and they're being over-consumed, and if he can just radically cull the cosmic population things will be better for everybody who's left and they can get back to nature and start inventing Birkenstocks or whatever. Thanos's economic education obviously never progressed beyond Malthus, but he insists he wants to impose his master plan for people's "own good." Don't they all.

But Thanos has a softer side, too, of which we become aware in his scenes with the green-faced Guardian Gamora (Zoe Saldana, at her best). Many years earlier, Thanos adopted Gamora as his daughter (right after murdering her parents), and she has always hated him. This situation makes Thanos sad (note the tear running down his cheek), but it also makes him angry, which as you can imagine is a very bad thing.

Meanwhile, Thanos's hordes of evil demons, led by the repulsively noseless Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), are becoming a worldwide annoyance. Word of their depredations reaches the cyber-brainiac Vision (Paul Bettany) and his honey, the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), who've been snuggled up in Scotland for the last two years and now realize they must rally to the assistance of their fellow Avengers.

Given the movie's overcrowded nature, not all of the Avengers get a lot of face time, if any at all. Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye never turns up, and Paul Rudd's Ant-Man gets only a passing mention. Anthony Mackie's Falcon and Don Cheadle's War Machine fly around a bit, but not much more, and even Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow seems under-underemployed.

This leaves a lot of the story to be carried—and carried very well—by the other super-beings. Doc Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) derides the tight relationship between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and the puppylike young Spider-Man (Tom Holland): "What is he, your ward?" Strange snaps. And Chris Hemsworth's Thor—now a full-fledged funny guy—has drawn the jealous ire of Peter Quill/Star Lord (Chris Pratt) and is working up a two-hander comedy routine with the wisecracking raccoon Rocket (voiced again by Bradley Cooper).

Not all of the Avengers are in a laughing mood. Chris Evans's Captain America—reluctantly returned from a self-imposed exile from the team—is definitely looking glum, as is Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, who's been having trouble triggering his inner beast lately. (A metaphor for whatever it was that cooled down his relationship with Black Widow?) Also short on smiles at the moment is Chadwick Boseman's T'Challa/Black Panther, whose country is under brutal attack by the Thanos hordes. (Sad to say, the over-extended Wakanda battle scenes are among the picture's more patience-trying problems—they go on for what seems like ever).

The movie concludes with a most surprising scene – a narrative sucker punch that wings in out of nowhere. (The fully grown adult sitting next to me at the screening I attended broke out in a cry of "Noooo…") But after the mile-long credits roll, an even more startling scene unfolds. Next up, next year: Part 2.

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  1. Saw it last night and liked it more than Loder. Some funny, cheer-worthy, and relatively weighty scenes that blended together well and went by faster than the run time would make you think. While one of my favorite characters got relatively little time, overall I thought the balance between everyone was pretty good. Several strong performances, not least of which was Brolin as Thanos (though I agree his started motivation, while perhaps better than simple revenge or just being evil for no reason, was pretty flimsy). Ending didn’t really surprise me and it already seems clear how they’ll resolve it.

    A good, though not the best Marvel movie. Still an accomplishment and a must see for the sheer audacity and pop culture relevance.

    1. (though I agree his started motivation, while perhaps better than simple revenge or just being evil for no reason, was pretty flimsy)

      Hey, it works for every government on Earth.

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  2. Rewrite this with a little more contempt for Loder’s opinions…

  3. So a guy who can easily travel anywhere in the galaxy, maybe the universe, is concerned about humans consuming too much resources on Earth? Really? Did somebody sneak this in to highlight the stupidity of environmentalists?

    1. He’s concerned with the whole universe, not just Earth. This was made pretty clear in the movie. I think Loder maybe wasn’t paying that much attention.

      Still a silly motivation, but it resonates with most people.

      1. You’re right, it’s the whole universe, not just Earth. Someone else pointed out this mistake to me, and it’s in the process of being fixed…

      2. Thought his motivation in the comics made more sense, plot wise: He’s fallen in love with the personal manifestation of Death, and figures half the population of the universe would be a good courting gift.

        1. Yeah, I actually like that motivation more, even as I realize that it wouldn’t work in the movies. At least not without a standalone Thanos movie.

          It’s actually hard to come up with compelling and relatable motivations for cosmic genocide, because the overwhelming majority of people aren’t psychopathic murderers.

          1. Good idea. A standalone Thanos movie. In addition they could have broken Infinity War into two or three parts.

      3. Not just silly, but nonsensical. If “it resonates with most people”, there is no worse testament to the lack of basic science education. What resources could he even be talking about? Air, water, fossil fuels, which are all specific to planets? Or stars, the actual sources of all energy, but which humans are far from directly harnessing. (Does the Marvel universe contain any civilizations that have created Dyson spheres or Niven rings?)

        Anyway, the Law of Conservation should be the end of the matter. On the level of an universe, all you have to worry about the rate of increase of entropy or the overgrowth of black holes.

        1. We get it, you really didn’t have to post this twice.

        2. But if he gets all this power, why not just create a whole lot more resources?

  4. May the force be with you!

    1. Is that before or after the Borg assimilate you?

      1. Nerds, this has nothing to do with Battlestar Galactica.

        1. Pffft, those were clearly Buck Rogers references, idiot!

          1. I thought they were talking about Flash Gordon.

            1. +1 Sam J Jones

  5. You really have to stand in awe of what Marvel/Disney have done here. They are completely dictating the terms of the conversation. To criticize Infinity War you either have to accept the premise of the MCU and judge it within that context, or you have to reject the whole enterprise of the MCU, and at this point the MCU is so successful that the latter is barely viable. It’s brilliant. If Disney hasn’t given Kevin Feige his own populated island to rule over as a god-king with absolute moral and legal immunity, then they are seriously underpaying him.

  6. Thanos will be able to shape reality to his desires, and what he desires is to wipe out half of the universe. Why does he want to do this? Because natural resources are finite, and they’re being over-consumed, and if he can just radically cull the cosmic population things will be better for everybody who’s left and they can get back to nature and start inventing Birkenstocks or whatever. Thanos’s economic education obviously never progressed beyond Malthus, but he insists he wants to impose his master plan for people’s “own good.” Don’t they all.

    Wait, I’m confused, it sounds like Thanos is actually the good guy. /progressives

    I jest, but I won’t be surprised if there’s at least a few “Thanos is actually the hero in Infinity War” articles written by Serious Thinkers in the coming weeks/ months. And probably at least one Cracked.com “6 Ways Thanos Was Really the Good Guy” listicle.

    1. Wait, I’m confused, it sounds like Thanos is actually the good guy. /progressives

      They already tried pulling this trick with Black Panther, where the “bad guy” has notions that progressives will sympathize with or in some cases, wholly support–whether it involves killing half the population in the name of saving the environment, or starting a race war where black people use advanced weaponry to commit genocide against white people.

      1. But if he can shape reality to whatever he wants, why not make more and better “resources”? Instead of destroying half the universe, double it in size?

  7. Anthony Mackie’s Falcon and Don Cheadle’s War Machine fly around a bit, but not much more, and even Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow seems under-underemployed.

    Of course, the black guys and the chick get downplayed. Between this and the “villain” being an eco-hippy, this is shaping to be one of the least woke movies ever. /sarc

    1. It would have been great if Thanos plan was to use the Infinity Stones to provide the whole universe with GMOs and nuclear energy.

    2. It also shouldn’t be allowed to slip by that the most powerful doctor in the universe doesn’t provide everyone with free medical care.

      1. Apparently the Hulk can’t get it up, so he’s got his own problems to fix first.

        1. Hmm. Another movie idea. Black Widow and the Hulk (transformed). Use your imagination.

  8. I liked the movie a lot. I think KL didn’t follow the movie as well as I did. Thanos starts with only 1 stone at the start of the movie, not two, though he gets the second pretty quickly. Scarlet Witch and Vision haven’t been snuggled up in Scotland for the last two years – SW has been working with Cap, Falcon, and Widow while hiding from the government as fugitives, and Vision has been working with Iron Man and War Machine while working for the government, and SW and Vision have been sneaking away from their teams to snuggle up occasionally. They don’t realize they must go assist the other Avengers, Vision and SW get ambushed by Thanos’ minions in Scotland and they are the ones who need assistance.

    Was Steve’s exile self-imposed? Civil War concluded him breaking some of the other Avengers out of jail. He’s a wanted fugitive, right? His exile seems externally imposed to me.

    You phonin’ this one in, KL?

    Meanwhile, I am still a nerd.

    1. Its self-imposed.

      Sure, if he came back to ‘MERICAFUCKYEAH! he’d be arrested (well, they’d *try) but he chose to go into exile, its not a punishment imposed by someone else.

    2. Thanks. Have resolved to pay closer attention to V & SW in the future…

  9. So Thanos is a militant environmentalist now? What the actual hell. Of all of the deviations from Marvel cannon (aside from making Black Panther a mainline character instead of the B list character he is), this is one of the most asinine. Thanos is perhaps one of the most sadistic and evil characters in the Marvel U and to water the Mad Titan down to tawdry environmentalism is sheer stupidity. Thanos sought out the Infinity Stones for one simple reason, he wanted to kill half the universe in order to gain the favor of the universal aspect of death (who in the Marvel U, is a woman). Thanos is the ultimate nihilist and his every action is driven by that ideology and that ideology alone.

    1. One bonus–thanks to this movie, I’ll be able to show my kids that environmentalists are evil murderers, so there’s that saving grace.

    2. A militant environmentalist who is apparently concerned with the resources of individual planets. Because on the level of a universe, over consuming of resources does not make sense unless someone is going around consuming entire stars and galaxies.

      Don’t get me wrong, I intend to catch the movie. But this is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

    3. Are you saying environmentalism can’t be evil and sadistic?

    4. This makes perfect sense. The most evil people in the world are all envirotards clamoring for everyone but themselves to line up become compost for not thinking properly and “killing the planet.”

      If this is news to you, then you haven’t been paying attention to envirotards for the last half century.

  10. Thanos’s economic education obviously never progressed beyond Malthus, but he insists he wants to impose his master plan for people’s “own good.” Don’t they all.

    Spoiler alert: Milton Friedman is the one who kills him.

  11. “What is he, your ward?” Strange snaps…

    taking a shot at Batman at the same time.

    1. Capitan Obvious, everyone.

      1. He gets his own stand-alone movie in 2020

  12. Is Strange an “Avenger”? I don’t think it matters. He can call himself whatever the hell he wants. After all, he has sole possession of an infinity stone.

    1. And if calling himself an Avenger doesn’t work out, he can turn back time and do it differently.

  13. Hold on just a minute. A movie villain who’s not a mustache twirling CEO?

  14. Jesus, who cares? Review a real movie with real people in real situations.

    1. What, like something starring Robert Redford or Meryl Streep? Maybe Loder isn’t a masochist.

    2. Those movies are boring and only appeal to low-IQ liberal arts types the world needs to be rid of.

    3. Someone cared enough to comment…

  15. A movie I have waited nearly 30 years for.

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