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Avengers: Infinity War review - what works as an event comic doesn't translate into film.


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*Contains spoilers*

Avengers: Infinity War has been long anticipated, hyped, and dreaded amongst MCU fans. Hailed as the most ambitious crossover in film history, it brings together characters and plot threads from Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Black Panther, Thor Ragnarok, Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man Homecoming, and Doctor Strange.

All our favourite heroes work together to take down MCU’s big bad, the purple titan Thanos. His quest to collect all six of the Infinity Stones is progressing rapidly, bringing him closer to killing half the universe – what he apparently sees as a merciful solution to an overcrowding and resource shortage problem. Go figure.

The first hour is of a high calibre, nimbly drawing out various plot strands so as to bring together the franchises’ casts. Brand new interactions between Tony Stark and Doctor Strange, Peter Quill and Thor, to name a few, truly shone, delivering on what the most optimistic fans had hoped for: it’s all back-to-back quips, action, and special effects of the highest order.  

For fans of the comics, most likely Infinity War will prove to be a dream come true. The film is essentially an events comic blown up on the big screen; it’s epic and ambitious, and relies almost entirely on the viewer’s knowledge of previous film for context. The problem is, it also relies on the MCU prequels for substance.

For all its flash and energy, Infinity War rings a little hollow. Because there are just so many characters on the screen at any one time, connections between them never evolve beyond witty one-liners. A glaring instance of this approach’s shortcomings is with Stark’s and Strange’s interactions. One second the two are butting heads the way any two egos of that size would, and the next, Strange is ready to surrender his life’s mission to save Stark’s life.

The result of including dozens of characters is that most of the heroes become only archetypal, diluted versions of themselves, and most of them are granted only a couple spoken lines. Sure, you get to see them all on screen, but are these characters even present? There’s hardly any sign of the people we’ve grown to love beneath their iconic appearances.

It feels like most of these characters are around for the simple purpose of being seen – it verges on looking like the whole film could just be a publicity stunt. Showing off all these heroes also requires so much jumping around situations and locations, that Infinity War feels like it’s spinning plates.

All the hopping around becomes increasingly frustrating, and makes it difficult to fully appreciate the visuality of the massive spectacles that have been created. The constant travelling between worlds becomes exhausting, and recognition of the settings’ mind-blowing quality becomes soon forgotten.

To the film’s most maddening aspect – the character deaths. Now would be the time to click away if you’ve not yet seen it.

The two characters who are killed and are most likely to stay dead (who would really be surprised if they bring Loki back once again?) are Heimdall and Gamora. Beyond their deaths alone, the most infuriating, and frankly disappointing aspect of their demise is for the purpose their deaths serve.

Heimdall dies after only a few minutes and a couple of lines, sacrificing himself to save the Hulk. Being such a fascinating character, his death feels like a huge waste of potential. Then Gamora’s death  is used to humanise the genocidal supervillain. An unknown force demands of Thanos that he sacrifice what he loves in exchange for the Soul Stone.

So far there had been absolutely no sign that Thanos was anything beyond a mass-murdering psycho who would go as far as to torture his own daughter. Yet there comes the time when he must make a sacrifice, and all of a sudden the audience has to watch him turn around, softly crying and broken up at the thought of losing Gamora. Are we supposed to believe that? Then he kills her anyway, throwing himself back into the action seconds later. Gamora deserved better.

Then there is Infinity War’s ending. It’s been glossed over in its advertising, but this film is in fact part one of two instalments. The climax is the darkest we’ve seen from the MCU and could have turned this film into something truly unexpected and audacious. The thing is, this being a Disney-run Marvel universe, there is no way that half of all its superheroes will stay dead.

The absolute certainty that these characters will be brought back in the next film mean there is hardly any emotional reaction to this apocalyptic outcome. All these impressive spectacles amount to almost nothing, given that the audience knows these painful consequences will be rebuffed.

Overall, Avengers: Infinity War might be fun, dynamic, and polished, but it has very little (pardon the pun) soul. The stakes for this film were set so high that it can’t be dismissed as a popcorn flick. For what it set out to do, the film works fine but it leaves you wanting so much more, and not in a good way.

Avengers: Infinity War is out now, distributed by The Walt Disney Studios. 


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