Film Review – Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War
I’ll fess up right now; most of these Marvel movies are not for me. I generally don’t care about superheroes, but lest you think I know not of what I speak, I worked in a comic book store on and off for 10 years. I’ve read a ton of this stuff. (Mostly X-men and a few other Marvel titles. No DC except for their Vertigo stuff; Batman and Superman are BOOOOOOORING. Batgirl is cool though.) Over the years I’ve sampled some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and with the exception of the last Thor movie and Black Panther, I’ve been pretty underwhelmed. (Well, okay, the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie was kinda fun.) And honestly, I wasn’t very whelmed by the movies I did like. I tend to like my movies with more stabbing, but to each her own. Just so you know where I’m coming from, I’ve also seen the first Iron Man movie (boring), the first Thor (boring), and the first Avengers (left the theater it was so boring.) This review of the new MCU movie, Avengers: Infinity War directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo, is dedicated to all those folks who don’t care at all about the MCU but love their godchildren enough to take them to see the hot new thing.
So the film starts out on the Asgardian escape vessel (Asgard got blown up in Thor: Ragnarok) where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) are facing the threat of annihilation: Thanos has boarded their ship and has demanded the infinity stone housed at Asgard. (The background of the infinity stones doesn’t really matter. The movie will explain what they are, and mostly they are just an excuse for the bad guy to do bad guy stuff.) Thanos (Josh Brolin) wants to collect all six of the stones so he can wipe out half of all life in the universe. He believes there isn’t room or resources for everyone, and he is the only one who has enough stones to do what needs to be done to rectify the problem. He takes the Asgardian jewel and then sends his henchfolk off to Earth to get the two located there. One is in the possession of Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the other embedded in the head of some guy named Vision (Paul Bettany). (I have no idea who Vision, Scarlett Witch, or that guy named Bucky is and why he’s hanging out in Wakanda. He needs a haircut though.) Thor and the Guardian of the Galaxy folks deal with Thanos in space while the Avengers and friends cope with the situation on Earth. Then a bunch of stuff happens, a lot of which is not very good for our intrepid heroes.
If you are into the MCU and have been looking forward to a big-ass fight fest then you will probably not be disappointed by this film. I could care less about anyone in this franchise except for Loki (he’s cute) and Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson (who died in the first Avengers movie, but is alive on television) and even I was moderately entertained. There is a lot of punching and flying, and that’s kinda cool I guess. The plot makes sense (Thanos wants to kill people; Avengers want to stop him.), and almost all your favorite characters show up to do their thing. Which is fun for the MCU enthusiast, and less fun for the dabbler, because who the hell are all these people? There are so many characters that no one other than Thanos, Gamora (his adopted daughter), and Thor have anything even close to an emotional arc. Even Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Thor are written pretty thinly, but both actors have enough charisma to make their parts look better than they actually are. But, if you are looking for big dumb fun with dark edge to it, then here you go.
However (you knew there was going to be a however, right?), there is one really big problem with this film and that’s Spiderman. Tom Holland, the actor who plays him, is fine. No film I’ve ever seen has ever been able to make Spidey look good when he’s flying around, and it’s the worst looking CGI in this film. But that’s not the real issue. For one, he’s your neighborhood hero and really isn’t meant to be running around in space; he would be helping the people at home deal with all the evil space crap falling from the sky. But more importantly, he is a constant reminder of the impermanence of the MCU. I believe Tom Holland plays the third incarnation of Peter Parker? Once he ages out of the role, they will probably reboot the franchise all over again, and anything meaningful that happens in his story will float away into nonexistence. He is a constant reminder that there are no consequences for characters in the MCU when there is money to be made on rebooted franchises. (The X-Men universe is another example of things just getting reworked into oblivion.) His large presence in this film is a constant reminder to the audience that no matter how badly things turn out – I don’t think it is a secret that some super hero-type folk die in this film – there will be an opportunity for reboots and do-overs. If Chris Evans doesn’t want to play Captain America anymore, how long will it be before someone comes up with a really great storyline, and the whole thing gets rebooted with a new actor? Maybe never, but that is not the lesson Spiderman teaches us. To take the idea of impermanence a step further, one of the infinity stones controls time. That is probably going to factor largely in the next film, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out there will be some rewinding taking place. (I know who dies in this, and I’ll tell you sure as shit some of them aren’t going to stay dead.) I liked the darkness of this film, but I don’t think it’s going to carry over to the next one, not when there is franchise money on the line. It strips the film of it’s gravitas when you remember that none of it is meant to last.