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Avengers: Infinity War Review

1 Jun

Credit where credit is due: this film took on a near impossible task and still managed to be semi-watchable at times. Most of it is legitimately bad, but when I say that it’s not a completely lost cause, I really do mean that sincerely as praise.

The problems that plague the film are predictable, numerous, and in some ways unavoidable: way too many characters, muddled motivations, “humor,” mind numbing repetition, lack of flow, and stakes that are weakened in many ways by the former problems. Take Thanos, for instance. His character journey on paper is actually more interesting than you’d expect, as are the overarching themes explored in his dynamic with Gamora. The issue is that every single conflict the Avengers have with him (or his henchmen) is exactly the same. It all looks the same. It all feels the same. On a purely action level, it’s almost like each scene is constructed by 1) Picking a few Avengers out of a hat to flit around him and deliver uninspired dialogue, and 2) Picking a few more Avengers to throw in the fight to do the exact same thing. They all have cool powers and technologies, but the film manages to make all of those powers and technologies feel banal and meaningless. Keep in mind we have 160 minutes of this.

The most egregious section is the beginning, which desperately has to coast on prior knowledge and goodwill because nothing about it has any cinematic merit. Certain introductory moments are fun (I quite enjoy Captain America), but again: none of the stakes feel present because the film has to reintroduce all these characters and try to insert drama where it can. It’s all perfunctory, rushed, and awkward. It fails miserably, and it honestly feels disrespectful to the franchise that’s been built up over many years and many films.

The final sequences on Wakanda are good. Those action sequences have an energy and inventiveness to them that gives the film a major boost at the end. The actual ending sequence is ballsy and almost operatic in a way that I didn’t expect going in. There are two ways to look at it, though. The first is as a piece of cinema on its own and as a conclusion to this specific film; that’s the approach I’m taking to this review because that’s only fair. But there’s that lingering other way to look at it: as simply Part 1 of a two part story, only allowing it to be ballsy because there’s a crutch called Part 2. In the end, that’s what sums up Marvel as a whole: fake, meaningless ambition packaged in shiny wrapping that provides nothing more than an illusion of stakes.

C+

(just FYI, I would take back everything bad I’ve said about this franchise if this were the end of Part 2)

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