#ThanosDemandsYourSilence, and when a Titan speaks, you listen. This is a spoiler-free review.
Directed by the Russo brothers, Avengers: Infinity War stars pretty much everyone who appeared in a Marvel movie. Most of the original Avengers are back, as well as some from both sides of Captain America: Civil War. Joining them are the Guardians Of The Galaxy and Doctor Strange. I won’t even begin to name all who show up, but suffice to say there are some very nice surprises. Wondering about Hawkeye and Ant-Man? Well, you’ll get your answers.
And if I haven’t lost you yet – you’re the fan the movie is for. The fan who sat through hours upon hours of Stan Lee cameos and end-credit sequences, and one who, at the very least, watched most – if not all – of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s because beyond Thanos demanding silence, Avengers: Infinity War demands that you know at least a smidgen about its universe. The movie continues the different threads from past movies, especially Captain America: Civil War and Thor: Ragnarok. But even if you haven’t had your own movie marathon, the film does an exceptional job of catching you up – as long as you know who each character is.
LONG ROAD FOR THE MAD TITAN
Since we first saw Thanos’ mottled chin in 2012’s The Avengers, there has been the question of just how and why the Mad Titan would visit our heroes on earth. It turns out he’s after the infinity stones, most of which have appeared in previous movies in various forms. Thanos is burdened with purpose: He believes too much life in the universe will deplete its finite resources. And so he aims – with the Infinity Stones – to eradicate half of all life. Earth has quite a few of those stones – The Vision has one displayed on his very forehead – and so earth’s mightiest heroes have to band together with new allies to stop the purple one’s path of destruction.
Thanos could have easily been a run-of-the-mill superpowered villain, a sheer force of evil that just blows things up. But here Josh Brolin (with CGI) does an amazing job of bringing him to life. Thanos is quite simply one of the best villains in the Marvel universe yet (not the highest of bars, I know), and Brolin just brings so much pathos to the character. There’s so much to be said about how good a villain Thanos is, especially with the gravitas Brolin brings to the character. It’s been a long tease since he first appeared, and this version of Thanos is worth the wait.
But it’s not an Avengers movie without the heroes, and you won’t have enough fingers to count them all. Even then, (almost) everyone gets their day in the sun. It is such a joy to see how some heroes interact for the first time, it here the Marvel movie magic shines with the often snappy and hilarious dialogue. It’s almost gotten to the point where it’s absurd to have such hilarity in the midst of an extinction-level event, but yet it just works. Kudos to writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely as well as the actors, who have done a great job to give a voice to the characters we all know so well.
(Which makes it all the more painful when a key moment happens to a character, and they react in the exact manner you expect them to. It makes logical sense for the character to react that way – I almost hate the writers for putting him in that position.)
Still, what works best is how the movie swerves expectations in many ways. Sure, with the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe mapped out, and with contracts running out for some actors, you would think some outcomes are a done deal. But forget what you’ve read in terms of rumours.
The crew have done a fantastic job of keeping the plot under wraps. Who lives and who dies is not a done deal, and even some of the preview images or trailers you have seen might not tell the whole story – we’ll leave it at that. Avengers: Infinity War manages to play with your expectations in many ways, which means … it’s going to be pretty fun if you manage to remain spoiler-free.
You know, that made it pretty hard to review. Because what you will want to do is to talk about the cool moments, but a promise is a promise, Thanos! And there are so many moments that will make any geek want to shout for joy. It’s not just a matter of who lives or dies, but even the mere appearance of certain objects or people is such a thrill.
A NEW DIRECTION
Avengers: Infinity War is the first Avengers movie not helmed by Joss Whedon, but the Russo brothers have shown that they can juggle a large cast in Captain America: Civil War. They’ve gone and bettered it here, and Avengers: Infinity War doesn’t let up the moment it starts. There’s so much going on in the film, yet it never feels confusing.
The movie moves briskly, making its 2h 29min runtime go past in a jiffy. There’s very little fat in the movie, even with all the exposition in the beginning, and soon you’re just hurtling along for the ride. The stakes are high – many characters have the opportunity to bite the dust in this movie – and more importantly, the stakes feel real. The opening sequence sets the stage for the rest of the movie – and soon it is clear that anybody can die.
THE MOST COMIC-BOOK OF MOVIES
What Avengers: Infinity War is a comic-book movie distilled into its very essence. I don’t mean it in a bad way: Comic book mega-crossovers are all about one epic moment after another (rather than social commentary), and that is what this movie is. It is a pure action film, full of memorable moments with with characters we’ve known and loved for years or even months.
Avengers: Infinity War shows that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still trying to improve its formula. It’s currently a formula that works, whatever people might say about superhero fatigue. This movie brings me pretty close to how I felt after I watched The Avengers back in 2012, where I left the cinema with my hands shaking. Back then, it was proof that we could bring all our heroes together and make a great movie. This time my hands weren’t shaking, but I left feeling that this was the true next step for the franchise.
I went into the cinema with trepidation, because it could have easily gone all wrong. But I left feeling a sense of stunned awe at what Marvel managed to achieve. And so the wait begins for the next Avengers movie, currently subtitle-less. Avengers: Infinity War does do a good job setting the next crossover up, but if you think you can guess what will happen, well, it’s not going to be easy.
And the most important thing: There is ONE end-credit scene.
Avengers: Infinity War opens in Singapore cinemas 25 Apr.