25th Apr2018

‘Avengers: Infinity War’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Josh Brolin, Chadwick Boseman, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dave Bautista, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Karen Gillan, Peter Dinklage, Bradley Cooper, Gwyneth Paltrow, Vin Diesel, Benicio del Toro | Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely | Directed by Joe Russo, Anthony Russo

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Rejoice, Marvel fans! Avengers: Infinity War is everything you’re hoping for and more. After eighteen films over the past ten years, this is the one everything has been building towards, an ambitious and audacious superhero epic that delivers action, humour and heartache in the mighty Marvel manner.

A film this big needs a huge villain and Avengers: Infinity War gets one in the shape of purple galactic warlord Thanos, played by Josh Brolin in a perfect amalgamation of mo-cap and state-of-the-art CGI. First teased way back in The Avengers (2012), Thanos is on a mission to wipe out fifty per cent of the population of the entire universe (for the its own good, you understand). To do so, he needs to collect six Infinity Stones in his specially forged gauntlet, the combined power of which will enable him to achieve his goal with just a snap of his fingers.

With one of the Infinity Stones embedded in Vision’s (Paul Bettany) head and another around the neck of Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), our heroes are understandably keen to prevent Thanos from getting his hands on them. Accordingly, groups of Avengers assemble in various different locations and take the battle to Thanos and his deadly minions (including The Cured’s Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Ebony Maw and Fargo’s Carrie Coon as Proxima Midnight) on battlefields ranging from New York to Wakanda to outer space.

This is an astonishing achievement in direction and the Russo brothers (who also helmed the last two Captain America films) deserve all the plaudits going. Not only do they juggle multiple storylines and more than thirty characters, they also maintain a breath-taking pace over the course of two and a half hours and keep a fierce grip on the overall tone. Credit is also due to the exceptional editing by Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt, particularly in the early scenes, which plunge you into the action much sooner than you might otherwise expect.

Throughout the film, the Russos are fully alive to the pleasures of the superhero genre, understanding that there is much joy to be had in the simple interaction of characters who have never met before. This is particularly true in the case of Thor (Chris Hemsworth, pretty much the MVP here) and the Guardians of the Galaxy – especially Rocket (Bradley Cooper), Drax (Dave Bautista) and sulky teenage Groot (Vin Diesel) – who basically steal any scene that isn’t nailed down.

Similarly, the script (by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) gets great comic mileage from the clash of egos between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) and Doctor Strange, with super-perky Peter Parker (Tom Holland) along for the ride, sporting a surprising new costume that’s one of several nods to comics fans.

However, though there are multiple laugh-out-loud moments, the film never lets you forget just how high the stakes are. To that end, the emotional moments hit extremely hard and it’s fair to say that even if you go into the film suspecting that certain characters aren’t going to make it to the end credits (a number of contracts are up with this film, after all), you still won’t be prepared for what’s coming.

Needless to say, the action sequences are both frequent and spectacular, encompassing some terrific punch-the-air hero moments that rank with some of the best Marvel highlights so far. Admittedly, the fight scenes occasionally lack the co-ordination and coherence of the equivalent sequences in The Avengers and Winter Soldier, but it’s hard to complain when the punch-ups are dished out so evenly between the multiple characters, with everyone getting their moment to shine. Similarly, the effects work is mostly excellent, with the exception of one particular shot, which is actively painful to look at and provides an unwelcome distraction at a crucial moment (you’ll know it when you see it).

As for the film’s finale, suffice it to say that the marketing has been somewhat misleading and this is indeed the first half of a two part story, with the mother of all cliffhangers thrown in for good measure. It probably doesn’t need saying at this point, but make sure you sit through the credits for one of Marvel’s time-honoured post-credits stings – just the one this time, but it’s a doozy. In short, Avengers: Infinity War is ridiculously entertaining from beginning to end and Avengers 4 can’t come soon enough.

***** 5/5

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