Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War (Spoiler-free)

This Avengers: Infinity War review could just be three words long: Go see it.

That’s really all you need to know! But I’ve got a few additional thoughts to share as well, completely spoiler-free, so read on to see what I thought.

Avengers: Infinity War is a cinematic feat

Trying to cram this many characters into one movie, including a brand-new villain (and establishing his entire backstory in a way no comic-book movie has ever done), and still finding room for a compelling plot, seemed like an experiment destined for failure. I guess we should have had faith in Marvel: they’ve been upping the ante for the past 10 years, after all. The progression from Avengers to Captain America: Civil War showed they were capable of making a movie featuring multiple stars.

But this really is something else. It’s incredibly rewarding for anyone even remotely invested in these characters; it doesn’t hold your hand or waste time with intros (although we do get some meet-cute moments when characters are introduced to each other); it just throws you into and then it’s go-go-go, with the only moments of pause really coming from Thanos himself.

It is long, yes—it’s an investment of time, at two hours and 40 minutes. But it doesn’t feel nearly that long; it moves quickly and every scene matters. Even Black Panther, a movie I really liked, felt slightly bloated, and I was more than ready for it to end when it did. I didn’t feel like Infinity War overstayed its welcome at all.

It’s a comic book event come to life

This phrase “this movie is like the comic came to life” has been said before, certainly for movies like Avengers and Civil War, and even as far back as Spider-Man 2. But this feels like an event comic: Like the Infinity Gauntlet series it was based on, or Secret Wars or Crisis on Infinite Earths, where characters from different parts of the universe who don’t normally team up come together to face down some overarching threat. Those aforementioned meet-cute moments are staples in those big events, and they’re replicated charmingly here. (There are a couple tropes that show up as well that comic fans will recognize, but I won’t spoil them). The good news about all of these moments is that they give you just enough; none of them hangs around long enough to bog anything down.

And the various pairings of heroes all work well. You can see them all in the trailers—there are no surprises about who teams up with who—and every fight scene is a blast.

Every review I’ve seen mentions that “every character gets a moment or two” and although some of those moments lack substance, it is pretty much true. Thanos’ henchman are never developed beyond just being “capable threats for the heroes to fight” and that’s a bit disappointing, but that’s all they really need to be; the movie rightly keeps the focus on Thanos himself.

Josh Brolin is incredible as Thanos

The screenwriters and Josh Brolin (and the motion capture/computer-generated special effects team) do a sensational job with Thanos. He’s a fully-realized character, with real motivations and pathos, not just a would-be conqueror villain. In a film with 30-odd characters, Thanos gets the most screen time—which makes sense, as we already know everyone else—and he makes the most of it. Not since Gollum has a CGI character become so real, and with the exception of Heath Ledger’s Joker, there hasn’t been another comic book villain who even holds a candle to everything Thanos brings to this film.

There are other standouts, to be sure

In terms of the rest of the cast, Robert Downey Jr. is excellent as always, and this might be his best turn as Tony Stark; you really do sense the gravity of every situation thanks to how seriously Downey plays the part. He tried the same in Civil War, but I think he tried a little too hard to be serious there, if that makes sense? It wasn’t totally believable. Here it feels more earned.

Tom Holland is also great again; as in Civil War, he really brings a young sense of wonder and awe to everything he’s seeing in front of him, and any scene with Downey and Holland is a treat. Seeing their relationship develop over three films and pay off here is excellent.

Speaking of relationship development, Zoe Saldana also gives her best performance as Gamora, and the relationship between Gamora and Starlord has developed nicely from the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies to here. And although the Guardians movies don’t tell us much about the relationship between Gamora and her adopted father, Thanos, Infinity War gives Saldana (and Brolin of course) plenty of room to breath life into it. She’s absolutely a highlight of the film.

Benedict Cumberbatch is probably the weakest link amongst the cast; I mean, he’s fine, but he just doesn’t seem to bring much charisma or presence to the role. I don’t quite buy in to his power as Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme. Maybe it’s the accent?

The End Really is Something

No spoilers as promised, but the ending is pretty great. It really pays off the 2.5 hours you’ve sat through, not to mention all of the other films to date. The climactic fight scene is, yes, another CGI-littered slugfest, but it feels more earned than those we’ve seen in the past—perhaps because there are so many characters in the scene that we actually care about, or perhaps because the stakes are so much higher.

Ultimately the entire sequence is clearly leading to a specific moment, and you can feel it coming the entire time, but it’s still stunning when it does. And it’ll leave you with your mouth hanging open throughout the entire denouement.

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So there you have it: I loved it. It’s not perfect—it does have some flaws, some of which I can’t really get into because they’re spoiler-y, but again: if you like these movies, even remotely, or action films in general, you’ll want to see this, and see it on the big screen. It’s absolutely worth the time.

I think the best compliment I can give Avengers: Infinity War is that as soon as it was over, I immediately wanted to see it again. That’s not something I experience often, and I don’t think I’ve felt that way with any other MCU film.

I’ll offer some spoiler-specific thoughts in the days to come, but that’s all I have for now. Go see it!

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